For most of my life I was overweight. It started around the third grade for me. I had recently gone through quite a few life changes, including making a new group of friends and quitting my after school activities. At first I didn’t realize what it meant. For years my parents had met my changing body with the words, “Look how BIG you’re getting!”
Despite my mother’s attempts to intervene, I continued to get bigger and bigger. By the time I reached high school, I had ballooned to well over 250 lbs. I had tried a new fad diet every month, two gym memberships and read far too many self help books.
As we know, the kids in high school aren’t kind. Every day, starting the very first day in grade 9, people would make the most offensive comments. It seemed to me that there wasn’t a single thing I could do to upset people that was more effective than just being myself. People I hardly even spoke to would walk right up to me and tell me how disgusting they thought I was. As you can imagine, I didn’t have many friends.
I can remember making a new friend, and being so excited that she would talk to me. We were inseparable for weeks. I didn’t have time to question it, because I was just so relieved to finally have someone . I shared everything with this girl, and she repaid me by using this information to publicly humiliate me. She set up a ‘date’ with the boy I was crushing on, with the entire grade waiting on standby to hear him reject me. After the 50 or so students had finally stopped laughing, I asked how she could do that to someone who considered her a friend. She only shrugged, as if I already knew. “Who would actually be friends with someone as fat and ugly as you?”
I developed a weird relationship with food, only eating when no one was around, and then eating too much. I would go most of the day and evening without eating at all, just to make up for the days I would binge. If I ever did ask anyone if I was fat, they would appear shocked and every single one would say, “You’re not FAT!! You’re curvy!!”
I adapted a tough skin and even harder fists. I continued to struggle to accept myself, so I created a mask that seemed unbreakable to my peers. I refused to let them see me for the fragile, sensitive person that I was, choosing to show them my strengths instead.
The year I turned 19 I found myself in a relationship where this was no longer an option. The egotistical, hypocritical person I fell into commitment with would not allow me to forget who I was. He would ask me everyday why I couldn’t look more like the girls he liked, why I couldn’t act more like them. I allowed him to beat down and break my remaining self confidence. I never thought things could get any better, and I now know it’s because I didn’t think I deserved it.
The day I left him I decided it was time to stop letting people make up my mind about myself. I was the one who had to live inside my head, day in and day out. I was the one who had to wake up and meet my eyes in the mirror. All of these people in my life had hurt me, or hurled their words at me like rocks. It was time I stopped allowing it.
I hadn’t asked to be treated this way in life, but I was not going to sit by and accept this as my potential. I started thinking about what my body needed, instead of what I wanted. I started eating regularly, having snacks and drinking more water. The changes I made were small, and it took a long time to complete the transition from the unhealthy me to the new me.
Every day I was lead by the inspiration of my daughter, Haley. I wanted for her to be free of this cycle I was stuck in along with the the other women in our family. I grew up thinking I had big bones, and that women from our family were supposed to be overweight. My mom would always say it was just the way we were. I wanted my Haley to see me making healthy choices. I wanted her to feel like the world was her runway and she was the star. Most of all, I wanted to be able to keep up with her when she got a little older.
Eventually the changes really started to make a difference. I couldn’t see it, but the scale did. I watched as the scale – which had until then only managed to offend me – pointed at a lower and lower number. I somehow succeeded at losing over 100 lbs. Of course, I still asked the same question of my friends, and even when confronted with the new me, they responded, “You’re not fat, you’re curvy!!” Apparently no matter how small I became I would still be a curvy girl.
An unexpected side effect of weight loss was that I found my love for food. Instead of seeing it as a patch for my emptiness, or something to deny yourself to shed pounds. I started finally allowing myself to enjoy meals again! I stopped myself any time I started to think about how others perceived my meal choices, or the amounts I was eating. I ate the pizza (some of it), I drank the beers, because sometimes it just feels good! I had finally found peace.
I still have doubts. Some days when I look in the mirror, the girl who looks back at me is still that bigger girl who is struggling to love herself. That’s when I have to step up, and just love her anyway. I’m curvy, but I’m learning to love my curves. They are – after all – the biggest part of me.