The winners of my last giveaway were selected based on their thoughtful answers to “What makes you feel beautiful?” One entry that particularly touched me was Cari Garvey’s. She talked about how growing up people taunted her for her size and how she will never forget the hurt that she endured for being overweight.
Her story touched me because I know the hurt. I was once called fat. It was 13 years ago. I was at a family birthday party, we were all eating together at this long table with all sorts of wonderful foods laid out. I was thoroughly enjoying my plate along with my mom and sister. Then this little girl who was probably a year or two younger than me looks at me and says “Why are you so fat?”
I stopped chewing. My eyes welled up with tears. The edges of my lips curled and I fought the quivering frown overcoming my face. I dropped my fork. Ran into another room. Cried. The kind of crying where you can’t stop and you can’t breathe.
It wasn’t long before my mom chased after me and held me in her arms. She didn’t know what happened but she did try to calm me down. When I could finally catch my breathe to tell her, she laughed it off, saying that the little girl didn’t know anything and that she didn’t mean it. I eventually stopped crying. But it didn’t matter. Kids tell the truth. And the truth was, I was fat. I’ll never forget.
I was 11 years old at the time and chubby. In my yearbook pictures, I had a double chin when I smiled. It was hard to find jeans that fit me. But none of it had even bothered me up until that point. I didn’t even know I was fat. I was active, happy, doing well in school, and had friends. That was all that mattered. But from that point on, I became self conscious. I lost confidence. Body image then became something I was constantly aware of. My body dictated my feelings.
Luckily as I reached puberty, I naturally leaned out as I grew taller. In high school, I was on the Varsity tennis team for 4 years and didn’t ever have to think about working out. It was just part of my routine. I didn’t know much about nutrition either so I’d notice that I’d get skinny on season and gain weight off season/in the summer. One September when I got back to school one of my closest friends straight up told me “You look bigger.” I clearly remember defending myself, saying “No, it’s just the sweater, really I didn’t.” I begged her to understand. It was like I was fighting for skinny. It hurt so much. That was 8 years ago. I was 16.
I would say that from that conversation on, I began my struggle with body image satisfaction. No, I never had an eating disorder or anything, but I can confess that I am very hard on myself when I look in the mirror. I see things I wanna improve, just like any other girl. It’s a bad habit, but being the perfectionist that I am, the goals get harder and harder to reach every time.
Do you know that every time I put up a new video, I have this fear that one of the commenters will say “looks like you got fatter”? I don’t think it’s happened yet, but it’s bound to. I’ve lost definition and put on a few pounds since I moved back to the West Coast. Not gonna lie. I can envision this happening when I read the fat comment…I will freeze up, have chills run down my spine, and think back in detail to when I was 11.
Being called fat is something that is offensive and hurtful. It’s something I can forgive, but I cannot forget. Being called fat is a personal attack on your most vulnerable self. It’s a physical insult that leaves an emotional scar.
But like anything else, we must move on to continue growing. Where do you go from here? You begin by removing yourself from that person or the situation that is making you feel horrible. You are still amazing, regardless of what you look like. (Remember how content I was before that girl called me fat?) If you choose to change your physical appearance/lose weight, then do it with passion and know that you’re doing it for the right reasons. Confidence. Health. Fitness. Then enjoy the journey. Find happiness in your day to day struggles and happiness when you reach your destination. Life is too short to be sad over things like this. Just keep remembering that you are resilient and that you can conquer anything you put your mind to. You just need to want it badly enough.
QUESTION: Are you hurt when someone calls you fat? How did you feel and what did you do to make things better?
PS: I’m banning the word “fat” from my vocab, and you should too. That’s no way to describe a person.