In this post, I am going to discuss something that affects me on an extremely personal level. Ever since I was a young child, I had always been overweight. When I got to my junior year of high school, my weight was at its all-time highest. Even with my height and frame taken into consideration, I was always considered the “chubby” girl. Now, I look and weigh a little differently, but I still struggle on a daily basis with my body image.
This is my story.
Note: This is extremely personal for me to write, and there are some things in here that I’ve never particularly told anyone. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to ask/make them, but please keep them positive and respectful!
“I want to be skinny.” Wow, this thought screwed me over.
I can remember this one time before a softball game in middle school. I was often teased for my size because I was bigger than all the other girls, and I remember being humiliated especially this one day when my team had a game and all of our jerseys and pants were were laid out for us in the locker room. When I went to put my uniform on, my jersey was fine, and my pants looked as if they were my size; the size on the label was correct and everything. Then I tried to put them on and they weren’t even going over my knees. I was freaking out. While they appeared to have the correct size label, they were child’s pants. Then, to make matters worse, the girl whose pants were switched with the tight ones I was wearing walked out and her pants (well, my pants) were falling off of her. Then some of my own teammates started laughing and making comments, and you get the picture. This was when my opinion of myself and how I looked changed. I get it. Middle schoolers are ruthless. But that still didn’t change anything about how I felt, even when I entered high school.
High school was actually a pretty decent experience for me. And as for my friends, they could have cared less about how I looked and how much I weighed and I had no reason for worrying about it at all, but it was still this dark entity that I had inside of me that wasn’t going away. I did one of the most dangerous things a girl could do and I compared my body to others’. I wished that my features were smaller, and that I just looked, well, prettier. I had this friend that whenever we went shopping, she was squeezing into small sizes and looked great in them. She could show off her form in anything and look fantastic, while I looked like the Pillsbury dough-boy in the same outfit. Size was more than a number, and I felt like it defined how I looked. And I didn’t get it either. I ate considerably healthier than most people I knew, and I did recreational softball after middle school (school sports=never again.). It just wasn’t fair.
Cue senior year. This meant senior pictures, senior prom, and my final season of high school marching band, in which I was the going to be the drum major. I was fresh off of a transformative summer program (GSE for life!) which made me grow immensely as a person, and shrink a size in jeans. I had lost a little bit of weight, and gained a lot of confidence. GSE was the confidence boost that I needed, but I was not out of the clear yet. I had graduation ahead of me and I still wanted to lose ‘x’ number of pounds so that I would look good in my prom dress. I spent so much time worrying about how I looked that I missed out. I started to miss out a little less when the second semester began, but yet again, the cloud over me wasn’t gone.
The January before I graduated, I got a gym membership. I focused more on my health (notice I said “health” and not “losing weight”) and ate a little better. This was a good first step. The pounds started falling off and I lost another few before prom and found a dress a size smaller than I expected. Then I fell back into the negativity again, and then that number on the tag wasn’t good enough for me. Why couldn’t it just go down? Why couldn’t my stomach be flatter, or why couldn’t my face be thinner? Especially after the prom when all of these pictures started to pop up on social media, I felt a little less better about myself. I am ashamed of how I felt, and how I even feel now (but now I kinda wished I wore a different dress, so that’s a different story…). I had a great time at prom; I spent it with all of the people I cared about and we had fun. That is what should have mattered.
Then I graduated, and in the fall I went to ECU. That was when I began to focus more on strength, and let me tell you, strong is amazing. I ran a 4k. I climbed a rock wall, multiple times (which is something I have never been able to do). And I also made friendships that I am going to treasure for a lifetime. Sometimes I even forgot about how my body looked and weighed.
Today, I am at the healthiest I have ever been physically, and while I’d like to say I don’t, I still struggle with my body image every day. I over-analyze what I eat, limit myself, and compare myself to others more than I care to admit. I regret ever comparing myself to others in the first place, and wish that I cared more about how decent of a human being I was than the size of my pants. I regret all of the negativity I fed myself whenever I ate something with minimal nutritional value that I actually enjoyed. Now I wish that my health goals are less size oriented and more strength oriented in the future. So I’m going to keep running and going to Bodypump classes. I’m going to lift more and eat more greens. But I’m also going to learn how to take naps and eat that piece of so-freaking-amazing cheesecake, without hating myself for it. My journey is not over yet, but it is getting better slowly and surely. I have only one life to live, and I have to live it to the fullest capacity.
So what does the term “skinny” mean to me? I made a post on Instagram a few months ago baring more skin than I ever felt comfortable showing and commented that “skinny” was unrealistic and overrated to me. It should be that way for everyone, no matter their size. “Skinny” is no longer a descriptive term that measures size; it measures worth. And that is never worth it. So what again, does “skinny” mean to me? I’m starting to discover that it means nothing.