Body Positivity: Part One

I hired a personal trainer. Telling people was, and is, a big deal to me. It took a lot for me to take the initiative to even go to the gym and ask about personal training. I need to lose weight and I’m finally doing it for me, for the right reasons – it’s not so guys will like me or so I can be the pretty girl at the parties, it’s because I want to feel better, to be better. I’m still hesitant about telling people about what I’m doing. While I’m proud of myself, I am scared. What if I don't succeed? What if I can’t do it? But I’m here now, to share my journey with my friends, my family, and anyone else who wants know my story.

Here is how it all began:

Ninth grade I stopped eating – it wasn’t an intentional thing, I was just busy and tired. I liked to sleep in in the mornings so I didn’t have time for breakfast or to make a lunch, I was out after school and dinner easily became my only meal. When I felt the pains of hunger I would snack on a granola bar, a piece of bread, an apple, whatever was quick and easy and would satisfy me. I didn’t notice when I started losing weight until my aunt asked me if I had been dieting. I wasn’t dieting, I just had gym class the same semester; if I had dropped a size, it was only because of that. I wasn’t doing anything intentionally.  

Top row: Maggie Gauthier, middle of ninth grade

Bottom row: Maggie Gauthier, photographed by Beth Botterill Picture Maker, summer following ninth grade  

The girl in these photos doesn’t look unhealthy, but this version of me was. I’m always slightly turned from the camera because I thought this angle made me look slimmer. My arm is crossed in front of me to cover myself. My head isn’t in the first set of photos because I’m not wearing makeup. I read somewhere that a belt around your midsection made you look slimmer. It was this year, when I physically looked “my best”, that I was at my most insecure. It wasn’t a secret, people knew how I felt about myself – but the words “you’re beautiful” don’t mean anything when you look in the mirror and see only your faults.

The summer after grade nine, I went to stay with my mom in England. Suddenly I was eating three meals a day again and my body went nuts, finally receiving the substance it craved most: food. The bottom half of the above photos are from that summer. Ironically, when I started gaining weight, I started to gain back my confidence in some ways—I lost it in others. I gained confidence in my body as I learnt how to best dress for my body type. But I also made a promise to myself to do my hair and makeup Every. Single. Day. I wouldn’t go anywhere unless I felt I looked my best – my best being a girl with a caked on face and carefully styled hair, my best being something I hid behind.

Now I’m in my third year, 20 years old, overweight, and finally starting down a path of self-love. My hair is almost never done, always thrown up in a bun more often than not without any sort of product. I have stopped wearing makeup. This was perhaps the biggest deal for me; as a VIB Rouge member at Sephora, I love makeup, but I used it not only because of my love for it, but because I wanted to cover up the imperfections in my skin. At first, it was incredibly nerve wracking, walking around campus knowing that my pimples were out there for the world to see. I hired a personal trainer, and I wore a tighter shirt for the first time in years without stress.

I still have a long way to go. Watch for my next article on my journey towards body positivity.

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