I remember the first time someone pointed out my weight. I was in second grade and I overheard a classmate’s mom tell another parent that I had “some rolls on me” when I sat down and that I used to be such a skinny girl. I was 50 pounds.
I started to think of myself as “fat” the summer between sixth and seventh grade and would comment on my “gut” all the time. In eighth grade, I noticed that my cheerleading uniforms from last year were a lot more snug, and I stopped being a flyer. One of my teammates commented that I “was skinny last year” and that she wondered what had happened. From then on, I thought of myself as the fat girl.
Things changed in high school. The comments from my peers pretty much stopped, or at least they no longer talked about my weight to my face, but comments from authority figures in my life became more common. I was scolded for eating more than one Oreo because I was “already overweight.” A coach told me that I needed to start a tougher workout regimen so I “wouldn’t look bad” in my uniforms. Comments like that were small and didn’t have too much impact at the time, but they were there, and they sat in the back of my head 24/7.
I didn’t see anyone with my body type being celebrated, and it didn’t take me long to figure out that my body was undesired by the society I was living in. I hated myself for the way I had let myself go and gained weight. I hated myself for never sticking to a healthy diet or for never working out consistently. I absolutely hated myself.
I had already been struggling with depression, and my struggles with my body only made it worse. I constantly felt worthless and small, and I hated that I felt that way. I was angry that I had let others’ views of me make me feel so awful, but the damage was done. I believed that my weight made me disgusting and ugly.
I don’t remember discussing the concept of body positivity until college. It was foreign to me and was honestly hard to grasp. Why should I be happy in my less-than-perfect body? Why should I see my body as something beautiful when it isn’t? My thighs are too big, my arms are flabby, my hips are wide, and my stomach is far from flat. Why should I be proud of something that no one else is proud of?
I decided to take it step by step and start to identify parts of my body that I liked. There weren’t many, but it was a start. I soon began to appreciate more and more about my body. It’s been through a lot—almost twenty-one years of ups and down. It’s been to 5 countries and has held friends as they cried. It has walked, run, jumped, and danced. It has fallen down countless times, and gotten up more. It has been broken and bruised, and it has healed.
I’ve been fighting battles with my body for years, and I still do. Somedays I see the good in my body, and other days the negative thoughts creep in and I start to hate myself again. Being positive about the state of my body is not easy. It is hard work, and it is something that I have to consciously work at every day, but it’s worth it. It is so worth it to be able to look in the mirror and love myself, and it’s worth it to be able to go to the pool or the beach without crying before.
Every day is a battle, and sometimes I lose, but I hope that one day, I will win the war.