I didn’t realize that I was chubby until a few boys started calling me sea cow in middle school. I don’t remember what grade I was in, but I do remember the fact that they made it their job together to torture pre-pubescent me into feeling horrible about my body. Up until that point in my mind I was perfect, I looked good, I was fun and I loved life. The day the comments started I started to doubt my self-image. I began to feel fat, shameful and unworthy.
Luckily I never got to the point where I was anorexic or bulimic but I definitely developed a major body image disorder. I vigilantly started watching my food intake, at that time the fad was watching your fat intake so everything for me became low fat or plain. With the addition of food restriction, joining the track team and making the high school cheerleading squad things began to change. Between the end of eighth grade and the beginning of ninth grade I transformed from a size 16 to a size 6. The rumors swirled! She must be anorexic. What did she do to herself? So when you are fat you are a sea cow and when you are skinny you are anorexic! Geez! A girl can’t win!
I didn’t lose the weight for those boys but it was really nice to see the look on their faces when they saw me in my new thin body. Does anyone see a problem here? I will point it out, this was the beginning of an internal struggle that rewarded me for being thin and shamed me for being fat.
What about healthy? I believe I have this figured out now at age 37. (We will talk more about the years between middle school and 37 later) Healthy is loving your body, healthy is feeding your body to fuel it and moving you body because you love it. Healthy is not a size, a number on a scale or compliments from strangers. Healthy is self-love. I want to share my story with you because if I can spare you even one day in your mental hell of body shame, I am going to do it!
How do we begin to love our bodies when we are constantly bombarded with an image of the perfect female specimen in advertising and on television?
1. Acceptance. Of who we are, whatever size we are, whatever shape we are.
2. Stop comparing yourself to other women! Celebrate another woman’s beauty instead of condemning her because of your own insecurities. (This is so freeing btw)
I have grown to enjoy working out, but some days it is very tough to get motivated. I do it now, not to be skinny but to be healthy and strong. This is what I tell my young daughters as well. It is so important to me to be body positive around them. I want them to have the proper mindset for what healthy is. I also want them to learn how to treat their bodies with respect.
I don’t allow myself to speak negatively about myself; I have changed my inner monologue. I am a size 12 and I am 5′ 9″ tall, so I am not and will never be a little waif. Who cares anyway? I have way more important things to do with my precious time than beat myself up over what size I wear. I have three daughters and a husband to love. I have a successful business to run. I have traveling to do. Hell, I am almost 40! Enough with the trying to please everyone else crap. My life is half complete. This is about me, because at the end of it all who is there? Not the bullies, not the fat shamers, not anyone who didn’t care enough to think of your feelings; it is just you. You ARE enough, you ARE beautiful and you ARE alive! LIVE! I don’t want to wait until it’s too late to start living. How about you?