While I was in a committed relationship with Matt (PC), I gained what we might refer to as "the freshman fifteen." I just kind of ballooned up for a number of reasons. Some of which being that I was no longer the active teen I was in high school and also that I was eating out and eating unhealthy food with my then boyfriend.
My pant size kept going up and going up and going up and my self esteem kept going down and going down and going down. I have been taught since a young age (not by my parents, but by the world) that beauty comes in a size two. It looks like Barbie with blonde hair, big boobs, nice hips and a small waist. All my life I had never looked like that, but I distinctly remember watching the Baywatch lifeguards and thinking to myself that someday I wanted to look just like those women. Someday I would have that hourglass shape and I would be pretty.
But I slowly started to realize that I would never look the way those girls did when I kept stepping on the scale and seeing a larger number than I had ever seen before. I was unhappy in my relationship, I was unhappy with my body, and I was unhappy with myself. The world had told me that I needed to lose weight in order to be happier, and I believed them. However, I didn't do anything that would cause me to lose weight, so I just suffered in my "fatness." I use quotes here because I wasn't obese, I mean, I wasn't really truly fat, I just felt that way. And that made me all sorts of sad that I can't correctly put into words.
When Matt and I broke up, it was probably the most drastic emotional roller coaster I have ever been on in my life. I had lost my entire world when he told me that he didn't enjoy kissing me or being with me anymore. And I was angry. I was angry that he didn't have the balls to break up with me himself and instead just treated me like crap until I broke up with him. This took a huge mental toll on me. Why was I not good enough for him any more? Why did he go chasing after all those other girls? Was I not skinny enough for him? Pretty enough for him? Nice enough for him? And all this doubt just crept into my head and I couldn't push it out. I kept comparing myself and my body to the other girls that Matt was bring around and flirting with right in front of me.
It led to me being depressed for weeks. I lived on a diet that consisted mainly of Tostino's pizza rolls and chicken strips from Denny's. I never worked out, in fact I almost never left my room except when I would venture to the kitchen to microwave more pepperoni pizza rolls. I just laid in bed all the time. I missed a lot of class and I watched copious amounts of Teen Mom online. I have recently come to the conclusion that I watched this show mainly because I was living vicariously through those girls. Not that I wanted a baby, but those teen moms knew what it was like to date and break up with an asshole, and that was the kind of girls I identified with.
My alarm would go off in the morning and I would groan with resentment at the start of a new day. I would have a debate with myself about whether or not I should go to class and then I would open my computer and lay there until it was time to go to sleep again. I would heat up fifteen pizza rolls at a time and go hours and hours in between heating more up.
This led to losing about fifteen pounds in less than two weeks. I went from having five pairs of jeans (sizes 9-11) to having one pair that would barely stay up without a belt (sized 5). I remember being in complete awe when I finally went to put on something other than sweatpants and nothing would stay on my hips. It was joyous, yes, but it was also a little scary. I had started college as a nutrition major and I knew that losing 15 pounds so quickly was way unhealthy. So when I called my mom and told her, expecting her to be completely shocked like I was and a little concerned. But I remember that she seemed excited and congratulated me on the matter, which just left me in utter bewilderment.
I suppose mom was trying to find anything to make me happy, since I had ended up just been this wallowing puddle of self pity for an inappropriate and inexcusable amount of time. I'm pretty sure that this was when things in my brain started clicking and I knew that I needed to change my diet and get to the gym and start going to class again.
And that's what I did, and by the end of the semester I had managed to keep the weight from coming back.
Going through that experience though has caused me to reflect on why I felt so down on myself and criticized my body so much. It has been beaten into my head that I need to look a certain way in order for people to like me. My self esteem started coming back up once I had shed fifteen pounds and started looking more like what the culture told me I needed to.
Why couldn't I be happy with myself at a heavier weight? Why was it so hard for me to love my body, no matter what shape or size it was?
And therein lies the start of my journey to loving my body no matter what shape I am. I decided that I needed to have a healthy body, one that I was proud of. Not because it was skinny, or sexy or what-have-you, but because it was mine. Because it can do back-handsprings and cartwheels and it can walk and run and bike. I can cook with it, clean with it, talk with it, love with it, and do the every day tasks required by life.
I understand what it is girls go through every day, thinking about whether or not their body is good enough or thin enough or pretty enough. And it makes me incredibly sad to know that that's how we are raised to think. We think we have to be a size two in order to be beautiful. We have to dress in short skirts and shirts that reveal our cleavage in order to get noticed by a guy.
Those are lies, plain and simple.
I struggle with having a positive body image every day. There are things about my body that I don't like, and I am trying to change them. And there are things in my mind that I am trying to change too, because a lot of my doubts about my body are in my head and I am the only one who notices them.
It's important to have the kind of body you want to, and to be okay with whatever kind of body you have. We're not all the same height and we're not all the same shape and we're not all the same color. And advertisers should stop telling us that we should be. Love your body. Treat it well so that it's healthy so that you can have that body for a long time. And most of all, don't hate yourself for not being the right shape. The right shape is a lie. We are all the right shape.
This is what I looked like summer of 2010 on the left and on the right is what I look like now:
I'm the one in the white dress with pink flowers, in case you were wondering. this dress is also like four inches too huge for me now. HA.
i should have bought this dress, but i didn't. (it was a size three and i couldn't believe that it actually fit)