I’ve been contemplating writing this as it is a personal topic that I think a lot of people can connect with and understand, but, for me, it is a scary topic to discuss on a social platform. What am I going to talk about, you ask?
My self-consciousness started in elementary school. I remember a girl telling me that my clothes were stupid and that had a lot of merit since she was the “popular” girl. Her opinion meant a lot and I stopped wearing the striped top I really liked because of her comment. In middle school, I had braces, glasses, and a lot of acne. I mean, a lot. There was another “popular” girl in one of my classes in seventh grade, who had a perfect complexion (jerk) and one day complained about a spot on her chin. She then looked at me and said “you don’t have to worry about this kind of thing because you have a pizza face and no one would notice a new zit.” Now, this is mean to say to anyone, especially an impressionable teenage girl. It made me feel horrible about myself, and I remember crying in the bathroom during lunch.
It was during the next year, eighth grade, that I started to feel fat. My thighs touched. My mom would ask me “are you really going to eat that?” when I would put another cookie in my mouth. I wasn’t able to fit in the clothes that I was wearing the previous year because I developed a butt, hips, and breasts. Something that happens to any girl once she reaches puberty, but that fact didn’t resonate with me. I was just fat.
My best friend at the time was model skinny. She had a collarbone that protruded. She had small arms. Her hipbones stuck out. It was everything that I desired because I thought that being skinny would make me happier. I thought if my hipbones stuck out I would never complain again.
High school was a blur of wanting bigger boobs and smaller legs. I hated so many parts of my body and thought that everything would be better if I had this and that from other people. I was never happy with myself. When I would eat more than usual at dinner, I would constantly feel guilty and think that my mom was silently (sometimes not so silently) judging me for the things that I ate. I would go on stupid diets where I would just drink various juices and ward off my hunger pains by chewing gum. I was a constant calorie counter. I measured out my food. I exercised an insane amount. But, I hid this from everyone. I didn’t want them to know that I was becoming overly obsessed with my body. During my Junior and Senior years of high school, I was the biggest I’ve ever been and I wasn’t even that big. It was at the first part of my Junior year that I stopped being so obsessed with calorie counting and decided that if I ate too much, I would just skip the next day of eating. Which was one of the worst things that I have ever done. Instead of counterbalancing my food intake, my body stored the food I ate as fat and I gained more weight, rather than losing any.
I was extremely unhappy. I felt that people were always judging me and the way I looked and thought if I was smaller, if I was a size 4 instead of an 8, I would be so much happier. And as I got older, I realized that wasn’t the case. I lost a bunch of weight through stress right after high school. A mass amount that worried a lot of people around me, and being skinny didn’t make me feel happier. I was sick a lot. I didn’t feel good. I was run down and my hair looked like shit. The comments that I got made me feel just as bad as the comments I got before: “Are you even eating?” “How did you get so skinny?” “Are you sick? You don’t look good.”
This was the point where I realized that maybe being skinny wasn’t the answer since it made me feel just as bad as those 20 extra pounds did. So, what was the solution? Is there a solution? For me, I just had to take it day-by-day. To this day I hate that my thighs touch just at the top, I hate that my arms jiggle and look like “mom arms,” as the term goes. I hate the way my legs look in shorts. The soft patch of skin that sits atop my invisible six pack (I just know there is one underneath it). The roundness of my face. The double chin I’m prone to getting at awkward angles in photos and from laughing too hard. I hate the small patch of cellulite (which 80% of women have!) right under the curve of my bottom. I hate it all when I look in the mirror on bad days but love it all on the good days.
Sometimes, you just have to have a different perspective of the world for you to look at yourself differently. Some days I wake up in the wrong mood. I hate that my clothes seem to fit me awkwardly. I hate the snugness around my wrists. Other days I wake up in a great mood, and realize that the same clothes don’t fit bad at all, and hey my butt looks really cute in these jeans! There are the same number of days that I want to cry looking in the mirror as there are days that I would grab my own ass (with consent only).
As long as you’re happy and healthy, that’s all that matters. It’s all about perspective and (trying) to love yourself and that’s often the hardest part.