I’ve had a number of experiences in my life that have shaped my body story and self-confidence over the years. It wasn’t how I saw myself, it was how others saw me that perpetuated my impressionable little mind growing up. Regardless of how many compliments I received, being “fat shamed” as a kid cut me so deep that it stuck with me for a long time. I was very shy and relied on the attention of others to feel good about myself, so it was easy for me to accept when people called me fat because I didn’t have much confidence in myself to believe otherwise. But now that this journey of best self has led me here, I want to share with you a few of those experiences that played interference in my ability to see myself through my own eyes.
Fall 2001, I was a freshman in high school. My friend was visiting her boyfriend and wanted me to tag along because he had a friend she wanted me to meet. . . Y’all know how that goes. I could tell the boy wasn’t interested, but we both played along until we said our goodbyes (I had a similar experience in college). After we left, my friend called her boyfriend to see how things went. They didn’t know it, but she had them on speaker phone. Both boys talked so bad about me calling me fat and ugly. That hurt, Y’all. I didn’t say anything. I just let them laugh and make fun of me.
I played softball in high school, and I can recall my teammates calling me fat as they would joke about how slow I ran while running the bases. I would laugh it off as all in fun or just freshman hazing but of course it bothered me. I also thought since it wasn’t just coming from the big-headed boys it must have been true, right?
On my 18th birthday (pictured in the green above), I went out to celebrate with family. We met up briefly with some guys that I didn’t know. I don’t remember the encounter, but I must not have said something nice because the guy called me fat. Now, if you look at the picture, then you can see I wasn’t, however, mentally I was.
In my college days (pictured in the gray), I was a dancer and was always concerned about how I looked in my performance attire. I can remember focusing way too much on what I was wearing rather than the dance routine. I felt so huge and was always comparing myself to the other dancers. Y’all, I was size 9. A SIZE 9!! I’m double that size now. Damn, I was really tripping, but I also really believed I was this extra-large person everyone told me I was.
Looking back at pictures from those times, I’m mad at myself for allowing other people who didn’t matter to infiltrate my mind and control how I saw myself. To control my spirit so much so that it was so hard for me to love myself or allow my husband to love ALL of me. I hated looking at pictures of me because the only thing I saw was how big I looked. And, I would question my husband’s attractiveness to me because of my size. Y’all, this weight thing consumed me. It wasn’t until I was completely honest with myself and started to peel back the layers of hurtful experiences that I really started to love myself for who I am right now, stretch marks and all. LOL.
So, let’s talk. What’s your body story? Have you always been in love with yourself? Or, have you struggled to see your own beauty like I did?
Listen, I know that I’ll always be a work in progress and my body story will always be a part of me, but my body no longer controls me. I am the captain leading this ship. More than that, I have a daughter watching and emulating my every move. I am her example of what loving yourself looks like. Everyday we stand in the mirror with the messiest hair, crumbs on our faces, snot in our noses (well, her nose not mine. . . but you get the picture) and tell ourselves how pretty and smart and confident we are. I’m teaching her to see herself and love on herself so hard that no one can ever tell her who she is. When you look in the mirror, love on your flaws because we will never be perfect. We’re not supposed to be. And remember this, when you know your imperfections better than anyone else, there is no one who could make you feel less than the beautiful person you already are. So, please keep going, because you’re worth it!