With 19 kids under one roof, the four oldest Duggar girls—Jana, Jill, Jessa and Jinger—were probably not at a loss for stories or inspiration when it came to their upcoming book, Growing Up Duggar.
Yet the girls mysteriously include a passage about a teenager named Marie, who struggles with an eating disorder.
“On the outside, Marie had what everyone else wanted, but on the inside, she felt sad and empty,” the girls write in the soon-to-be-released book, the Duggar Family blog reports.
“She began to envy the girl who tried to control her weight through what turned out to be a destructive eating disorder. Not realizing how dangerous it was, Marie thought it might work for her, and soon her obsession to stay thin started controlling her life.”
It is only after they recount “Marie’s” terrifying experience with bulimia they reveal her true identity—their mother, Michelle.
The mother-of-19 revealed she struggled with her weight until she began dating her husband Jim Bob and was able to talk about it with someone who cared about her.
“Jim Bob has never put me down for my body. He has never mocked me for my mommy tummy,” the Duggar matriarch told the TODAY show, when explaining why she loves her body—even after giving birth to 19 children. “He is one of my biggest encouragers.”
Another reason Michelle has become more accepting of her body is because she wants to set an example for her daughters, and teach them to have a better self-image than the one she had when she was young.
“A mama really sets the tone more than anyone else,” she explained. “It helps to talk to ourselves the right way.
"We are hard on ourselves. We believe lies. We’re constantly bombarded with, ‘oh, you’re so fat’—those are lies.”
She also found peace by no longer comparing herself to other women.
“We’re always going to find somebody skinnier than we are, somebody bigger than we are,” Michelle told TODAY.
“Every girl struggles with, ‘Oh, I wish I looked like that or I wish my hair was like that.’ We go back to the point of who you are and how God made you—you’re not your sister. It’s all about being who God wants YOU to be.”
The most important factor in embracing her body after baby (and baby and baby, and more babies!) is to remember that her changed body means an addition to her family—which makes it worth it, time and time again.
“The stretch marks and the little pudgy places, those are my marks of glory for my kids,” Michelle gushed. “I look at Jordyn, I look at Jackson and I think ‘I remember that stretch mark. You were worth it. And I wouldn’t trade that stretch mark for anything.’”