Sometime ago, during my first semester in college, I befriended a girl I had in one of my classes. We instantly became close to each other. As time passed one night at her house, between watching movies, videos on the internet, “karaoke” night, laughs and pointless conversations, we brought up our childhoods. As I explained to her how mine had been, she listened attentively and every now and them commented on what I was saying. When I was done, it was evident that it was her turn to share her stories. After a couple of minutes of complete silence, she proceeded:
“This is something that I have slowly become comfortable sharing with only a couple. I want to open up to you because I would really like for you to get a more accurate sense of where my personality and some actions I take, come from.
As I have told you I before, I come from a big family. I also told you I was the 10th grandchild and I grew up surrounded by guys. Reality is I did, I was only really able to grow up with a girl cousin that is 1 year younger than I am. So right now she’s 17, about to be 18 on May 9th, I think. So growing up with her had its moments. She and I were always compared. She was the “skinny, light-skinned, “pretty” girly girl” and I was the opposite.
I’ve told you I was fat, and it is not an image I had of myself, that was really how I was. I was overweight and as you can see I’m more tanned skin, and I definitely was not a girly girl. I mean, I had dolls and stuff like that, but I liked playing outside, getting scars for falling on the backyard from running, playing hide and seek, doing “boyish” stuff, although I did sometimes liked playing with dolls. Although many may not have realized they often compared me with her, she would get all the nice clothes. If there is a comment that I will definitely never forget is one on a Christmas when we were little. As we were opening gifts, I received clothes, one of my aunts or uncles gave me a pair of jeans. When I opened them I was like, “ah okay cool, my first pair of jeans”. Then, I heard somebody say to me that if they didn’t fit me then I could just give them to that cousin in particular because they would definitely fit her. In that moment I really can’t remember what I did, but it’s one of the comments that I’ve carried with me all my life, it definitely shaped my mentality about my image.
I believe that another thing that also helped build that insecurity is social media (more now in my teen years than ever). I don’t want to point fingers like many women do blaming social media for their low-self esteem but I mean, that somewhat has contributed. As I scroll through news feeds and pictures, videos on my accounts on social media most of the time I see articles on how to loose weight, get a bigger butt, be thinner, and I’m advised on where my curves are supposed to be. Although I was not completely depressed about my image, I did grew into that mentality that I would do whatever it took to never be brought down by my image like I was back then.
Being a former fat kid, is really not being a former fat kid. I’ve grown with that mentality and fear that I’ll go back to being that “fat girl”, I really do. While growing up, we didn’t grow up with restrictions when it came to food, our plates would be served as for adults, drank vast amounts of soda, no exercise or sports were taught to us, nothing of that was expected from us, so trying to change those habits over time has been really hard, and to this day it still is.
There is a constant battle inside me between the former “fat kid” and my grown up self when it comes to food and looks. The former fat kid inside me says to not eat a lot, to only eat a little, to exercise like crazy, to do a million squats, hundreds of sit-ups, to not wear a shirt, shorts, jeans, and dress that will accentuate the flaws on my body. Then, the grown up woman inside of me says to eat whatever I want, that I should not care what others say about my body, it is my body. It advises me to eat 5 slices of pizza if I please, to be happy with who I am, to wear whatever I want, to buy a swim suit, a dress, lingerie, jeans, shorts, and shirts that I want, that I’ve come so far. That if I have cheated some days/weeks of working out that I will soon makeup for them, that if I don’t have perfect curves, to be happy with who I am. It is hard having those two voices debate with each other inside my head, deciding on which one to listen.
The “full of insecurities” girl image is more complex than that since my insecurities don’t always win. Some days I’ll wake up feeling really confident of the way I look, the way my body is shaped, I may have some flaws, not the perfect skin, other aesthetic “imperfections” from being a former fat girl, but I come to think that everyone has them. There is no perfect body so why should I surround myself with negativity about my own self 24/7. Other days, I do admit I look in the mirror and wish I had thinner arms and waist, more curves even a bigger butt, I honestly don’t see myself with bigger breasts, I’ve come to accept my breasts won’t come to grow 2-3 cups magically, so I’m okay with it, and tiny stuff like that. By the end of “judgement time” I pretty much shut those voices for the majority of the day, where I just become myself, be goofy, sarcastic, etc. I mean, they are not completely shut down for the whole day, but temporarily since I am a human being, and I know I’m not the only one who has these insecurities. I know in the past I have let them run over and do as they please but I have grown more and just basically learn how to attack them.
I admit, sometimes they do win, but I don’t let them get to me enough to throw myself in the bed, starve, and cry my way to depression. I know I sometimes, often, make comments about my weight, image, and body, and it’s not me judging because I’m superficial, but because there is that struggle between those “two people” Inside me…”
After she finished her story, she mentioned how she hoped I would understand better the reason for some of her comments about her body, her weight, and the flaws she saw in herself. To this day I still think about the braveness this girl showed, the strength she has and the struggle she has gone through every single day, a struggle that I assume many former “fat” kids may and might go through everyday between their former selves and the strong person they have become. Reality is, as I have said before, no one is perfect. I know every once in a while we all may judge ourselves and be hash with these judgments about the way we look, the way we act, but those “flaws” we see in ourselves along with the many attributes each individual has are what makes us the person we are and why not embrace them? We could all use some self love.