“Loving yourself isn’t vanity. It’s sanity” -Katrina Mayer
I haven’t been skinny since I was like 9. I wasn’t one of those husky little kids either. You know how some kids are just, bigger? Even at around 5 or 6 years old you can see it in their tummies and face. God bless ’em I am NOT fat shaming kids. I’m just saying, you can see the weight problem REALLY early in some kiddos. Many of those children are fighting a genetic predisposition to being overweight. I did it all on my own. Now, starting to show extra pounds at the age of 9 isn’t exactly a crowning achievement… I didn’t make it far into the skinny life. I used to eat macaroni and cheese for breakfast. Blue box. For breakfast. I also had an affinity for nachos and cheese, which is overwhelmingly still relevant today. (I’m pretty sure I just like anything with cheese.)
My parents never commented on or made me feel ashamed for looking different, bigger. I can also make a statement that VERY few young people who are overweight can say: I was never, not in middle school not in high school, ever bullied or called fat once. Ever. This does not mean that I didn’t have my own self image and confidence issues. Just because no one was saying it doesn’t mean that they weren’t thinking it. I was acutely aware of that, walking around always smiling, wondering who was thinking about my fat… Judging me quietly, or behind my back. To give my high school some real credit though, being bigger never stood in my way of advancing socially. I was Homecoming Princess my junior and senior years (and not ironically, but because I was popular). And in my crowning social achievement I was voted “Best All Around” by my graduating class (of 400+ students, you don’t brag when there’s 20 kids in your class). I mean, a thick girl was literally chosen as the school favorite.
I went to college with plenty of confidence. I wasn’t “fat” I was curvy. I joined the hottest sorority. And even though I was obviously the biggest girl in the bunch I still wasn’t deterred because I felt like I had made it. An important footnote to this time in my life though, is that I consciously worked hard to at least maintain. I always liked my curves but I was not willing to accept anything spilling over or jiggling. Even though no one ever made a comment to me about my weight in college, again no bullying, for some reason I felt more acutely aware that it was… noticed. Being in Greek Life promoted a certain amount of pressure on physical appearance. Vanity ran rampant. This was easily the healthiest time in my life. Even eating healthy and working out never made me skinny, though.
Genetics do play a big factor in weight, so I was just born to be curvy. I stayed this beautiful shape for about a year after college before it all went to shit. Once I was a few months into dating my boyfriend I did what a lot of people do, and what he did as well, I let myself go. I didn’t care about what puffed up or what poked out. I lost my confidence but I told myself it wasn’t important, there was no need to be confident when you’re in a committed relationship. Looking back I realize how completely ridiculous that thought process was.
When we broke up I lost a few pounds, hoping to feel sexy to get back out there. It’s easy to be motivated when you feel like you’ve literally been handed a fresh start. Also, in the spirit of transparency, I was taking Phentermine at the time as well. I was ready to get my college body back and the diet pills did help to give me the push. I felt beautiful, like my outsides finally matched my inside. I’m not built to be skinny, this was my truest happiness with my body.
When my then ex-boyfriend and I started speaking again, the confusion and emotional distress of the whole thing caused me to really put on weight. And fast. I was definitely my biggest. It happened so quickly. It’s true what they say- use diet pills and you’re likely to regain the weight and then some. I completely regret ever taking them, they were a temporary fix to a life long struggle. In retrospect it has also become very apparent to me that I am an emotional eater. I never thought of myself that way but when your size is a direct correlation to what’s going on in your life- you can’t deny it.
Now, in the past year, I have lost a few pounds- but not enough to make much of a difference. When you’re a big girl 10 pounds is not exactly noticeable. For some reason this is the first time in my life that I don’t embrace my weight. Maybe it’s because I’m at an age where I can start to feel the pounds. It’s like when I hit 30 pretty much everything got more difficult. Just walking around the park or zoo is all of a sudden a struggle. I’m also terrifyingly aware of the health risks involved now. Twenty-year-old me did not give a shit about the consequences of my weight. Now I worry about things like heart disease and diabetes. The cruel joke about that is that aging also seems to have dissolved any metabolism I may have had. Being older (not necessarily wiser) and observant has also made me sharply aware of where I stand. Like upon entering a room, I always know where I place on the scale (no pun intended). The problem with that is I’m often the biggest girl in the room, and that suuuucks. Clothes don’t seem to look as good on me as they used to. Whereas most people with weight issues have the confidence crisis in their young teen years, I seem to be falling victim to it when I’m a grown ass woman. Even though I know my weight is a problem and that I need to be healthier I still haven’t changed a single thing about my eating or activity habits. I take full responsibility for that. I definitely have an unhealthy relationship with food, and all the wrong kinds of food. I don’t crave salad, I crave chocolate. I am comfortable though with who I am and how I look, I’m just not proud of it if that makes sense.
The world today is also very different from the one I grew up in. Sure there were models on magazines and on TV, but I didn’t have it constantly in my face. Social media and our constant connection to celebrities and every other damn thing around us forces this image of an ideal woman down your throat. To have a moment’s peace without feeling ashamed while the face of some skinny bitch is staring back at me on a screen… I would basically have to lock myself in the bathroom. What is considered “normal” these days is also quite different. Average women used to be portrayed more relevantly and even called beautiful. These days it’s skinny skinny skinny. Skinny is beauty and beauty is skinny. Bullshit. Size doesn’t matter (isn’t that right gentlemen). Women of any and every size can be and are beautiful. And here’s a real bombshell, not all skinny is attractive. The important thing is to be healthy, and there are just as many bigger girls as super skinny girls that are in pristine health. I wouldn’t have a bad thing to say about my weight if I had the right to call myself healthy. But I’m wildly unhealthy, so my size really is something to be concerned about. Either way, I still love me. No matter your size, shape, big, small… fuck what other people think about how you look. You need to love yourself. And just like our outward appearance, skinny doesn’t mean self love and fat doesn’t mean self hate (and vice versa). I hate when people say – you’re perfect the way you are. No. You’re not. But only because no one is perfect. The important thing is to love your imperfections. Loving yourself opens a whole world where people will love you in return. I know this all seems really easy to just spout out but when it comes to putting it into practice it can be a very different story. Work at it. Make a list of everything you like about yourself. Focus on all of those great things that make you, you. And as it will happen in other areas of your life, that like will grow to love. And the love you have for yourself is the one worth holding to and sharing for a lifetime. Because no matter what size you are today, you will still be the same person on the inside tomorrow.
(A quick social commentary: I have been called fat twice my whole life. That moment really sticks with you. And both times this happened it a) was within the past couple of years, and b) was told to me by a child under the age of ten. That is proof alone that society is starting to put more emphasis on size and appearance, and that this next generation is more exposed to these body image expectations than ever before.)