As a child, I was what many would refer to as “chubby” or “plump” or “big boned.” These are all phrases meant to be polite but intended to convey the same meaning – I was bigger than what I was supposed to be.
I was consistently in the 80th percentile and above in weight compared to others my age and, when BMI came into the picture, I was above average there too. In doctors’ offices, these were statistics that were usually whispered and tip-toed around. “She’s [whisper] a little bigger [end whisper] than most children her age.” As an eight-year-old, this conveyed that my body size was a secret, something nobody should know, something of which to be ashamed.
Almost overnight (and with early onset puberty), these external ideas about my weight became internal thoughts about my body. I can’t remember a single instance in which I was bullied in school for my weight. I do, however, remember many instances in which I bullied myself. Breaking an ancient fraying rope swing at my cousin’s house turned into “I’m so fat.” Weighing more than my 70-pound crush in elementary school became “I hate my size.” Shopping for jeans in the junior’s section in fourth grade grew into “Why can’t I be skinny like the other girls in my class?”
So, it’s no wonder that by the time I hit high school, I was in an all-out war with my body. Even though I had gained about 5 inches in height and most girls had caught up with my curves, it was too late. I still hated my body and treated it accordingly in all the self-destructive ways one can imagine.
It has taken two decades, but I am finally calling a ceasefire in the war on my body. The smoke has cleared, and I can see plainly enough to share with you what you need to hear if you have ever struggled with your body.
To the woman who has been teased by her peers, siblings, or even her parents for her size as a child. To the woman who has been put on diets or sent to fat camps or enrolled in sports that she hated in an effort to lose the weight. To the woman who has cried in dressing rooms or in front of bedroom mirrors trying to find a pair of jeans that fit for the first day of school. To the woman who got changed in the bathroom stall in gym class in fear that others would make fun of her body. Listen closely:
You are no longer that girl.
You are no longer at the mercy of your parents, your siblings, or the popular kids in school.
You have survived the years of being mocked, not feeling good enough, or not fitting in because of your size.
However, there is one woman still standing in the way of loving the body you have. And that woman is you.
Look around. Chances are, you are the only person who is still mocking you for your body. When you look in the mirror, yours is the only voice that speaks.
What does she say?
Does she tell you all the things that should be different, could be different if you just tried a little bit harder? Or does she celebrate your form, your uniqueness, your beauty? If she doesn’t, you are now the bully. Denying your body and yourself of the love you deserve makes you no better than the snot-nosed kids who used to tease you in school. Belittling yourself as you stare at your reflection robs yourself and the world of the beautiful light that glows within you. It’s time to show that little girl inside that she is worthy of love, she is worthy of respect, and she will no longer allow herself to be bullied into submission. You have the power to change the voices in your head from those of discouragement to those of encouragement. In fact, you’re the only one who does.
Note: This post originally featured on Thought Catalog - view it here.