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Not Fitting In: Growing Up as a Plus-Size Woman in a Straight-Size World

I’ve never been skinny. I’ve always been the bigger girl out of my friend group since I can remember, and I began to worry about this small difference from an age way earlier than I should have.

I remember standing in front of the mirror at eight years old wondering what was wrong with me. I desperately tugged at my uniform searching for any way possible to hide the thing that separated me from most of my friends. I had never really noticed my difference in size from the rest of the people I was surrounded by until I began to pay attention to everything that reminded me of what I should look like.

At around this age, I became obsessed with magazines. I was most captivated by the pictures because the girls featured on the front cover seemed to radiate a sense of beauty that everybody strived to attain, so I thought I should want that too. I understood that I looked different from the girls who were constantly praised, but I never thought these differences were bad until I realized that in society, beauty came in one form. The way I looked to others completely consumed me. I used to wear jackets even on the hottest Florida days to mask the extra weight the other girls in my third-grade class just didn’t seem to have. I dreaded anything that had to do with the beach or the pool because I knew it would be a crime to sport the bikinis every other girl could. So instead, I always had to opt for the one-piece that perfectly covered everything I wasn’t supposed to have. In the coming years, I would begin to be conscious of what I was eating and pay attention to how many calories I was consuming, something many elementary schoolers weren’t even familiar with yet.

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I got this idea that something I had always lived with was something I should be ashamed of. Wherever I looked, I was surrounded by women constantly doubting their appearances and practically starving themselves to fit this image of who we should look like. Even though not many people directly ridiculed me for my difference in size, it was still something I desperately wanted to change. I always thought about how my life would be different if I could just fit into this norm. I dreamed of the confidence I could maybe have in myself and how everywhere I go I wouldn’t be constantly thinking about others’ opinions because of my appearance. While it may seem crazy that I care so much about strangers’ thoughts on my body, it’s hard not to be afraid when I see so many girls who look like me being constantly criticized.

 Though social media holds a lot of the responsibility for these negative ideas I had about myself from such an early age, I can also credit it for a lot of the progression I’ve had with my body image. Finally being able to see women within the plus-size community gain roles where they are placed on the front covers of magazines or modeling for New York Fashion Week is very encouraging for someone like myself who felt like the only way to finally reach being beautiful was by conforming to society’s standards. Of course, self-love is a journey and at some points, I will revert to my eight-year-old self standing in front of the mirror for hours on end wondering where I went wrong. It’s important to understand that while we are moving forward in praising all body types, it is normal to have days where you don’t feel your best about what you look like. I am proud to say that I can confidently wear most outfits that my past self would have never been able to imagine, but at the same time, I still have days where I want to cover up and that’s okay. Even though my size seems to be at the forefront of my mind a lot of the time, I hope to continue on this journey toward self-love and start a conversation about body image I wish my eight-year-old self could have heard.

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Christian Pruitt is a Senior at Florida State University, majoring in Digital Media Production. In her free time, Christian enjoys eating blue raspberry snow cones and exploring the town with some friends! She is a lover of all things pop culture and hopes to pursue a career in media one day.
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