Disclaimer: This article has been a long time coming. I work on it in my head occasionally, but I am now finally sitting down to write it.
it was when i stopped searching for home within others
and lifted the foundations of home within myself
i found there were no roots more intimate
than those between a mind and body
that have decided to be whole
– rupi kaur
Growing up was pretty normal I guess. I had an older sister, a mom, a dad, and some dogs. We weren’t rich but we were well off. I was a spoiled little girl who loved to dress up in princess dresses and wear socks on my hands to keep the mosquitoes from biting my fingers. I had your standard amount of friends, I wasn’t unpopular. I was pretty happy. As happy as a kid could be, I suppose.
My family was by no means perfect. We had our issues, some of us more than others. Life happened and things got hard. It’s difficult being a kid in an adult situation with things you don’t understand and can’t control. But I dealt with it. I learned to be strong for myself and for my family. I didn’t like to show emotions. I felt that I always had to be strong, that I had to be the one to hold things together.
Crying in front of people was and still is a big no for me. So, I learned to keep everything inside. I couldn’t show weakness; or so I thought.
I never really had a problem with my weight until around 3rd grade. I’m pretty sure I gained all my weight during the summer of 2006. The infamous “Mother’s Day Flood” of 2006 in Lowell, Massachusetts changed my life forever. Healthy eating wasn’t necessarily number one in our top priorities. Finding a place to live, rebuilding our home, and managing to pay bills and stay afloat were the most important things.
I remember staying at hotels a lot, and finally settling into an apartment. I also remember that McDonald’s became our go-to hot spot. No time to cook? McDonalds. Too busy to go food shopping? McDonald’s. It was convenient and cheap. Not surprisingly, with the fast food, came the weight.
This is honestly the only event that I can think of that correlates to my weight gain. I look back and I was a tiny little person until this all happened. That doesn’t matter anyway though, it’s not the point.
People in school weren’t mean to me. They didn’t make fun of my weight the way you see on TV. I know it is a real thing, and it happens, but it didn’t to me. I was still a happy child, just with some extra chub rolls on my stomach and neck. Nothing to think much about. Nothing that phased me.
It wasn’t until seventh grade that I realized I wasn’t like the other kids. I couldn’t run the mile like everyone else. I was almost always the last one to finish it. A steady walk brought me to 15 or 16 minutes. I was pretty athletic when I was younger though. I played soccer and softball. But, even playing softball , I wasn’t as fast as the others because I had the extra weight on. But I didn’t let that stop me.
High school came and everything was different. I didn’t have my best friend by my side and I knew no one. I was surrounded by athletes in my classes and it was scary to me. I was bad at sports, I was too embarrassed to try to play anything, and I was overweight. I became very self conscious and started secluding myself from the others.
Freshman year was the hardest year of my high school career. I felt like an outcast. I felt that everyone hated me. All the whispers seemed to be about me. That is when the depression and anxiety set in. It’s one thing to be sad and nervous, but it’s another to be depressed and anxious. All the time.
When I say this, you either know what I’m talking about, or you think you know what I’m talking about. But until you’ve been there, you can only assume the feelings.
Anyways, that’s not the point. I became very self conscious in high school. I am very critical of myself to begin with and this only made it worse.
Ok. Flash forward to present day. The body positive movement has become a huge thing recently and I think it is amazing. Always feeling like my body wasn’t good enough, I started to pay attention to this movement. People that looked like me were posing half naked online in cute clothes that I dreamt of wearing. And they looked good! They were confident and they were happy with themselves. I wanted what they had. They were happy.
Always judging myself and comparing my looks to others, I never felt good enough. This led me to be unhappy with who I am. It came to a point where I just had to say eff it and embrace my flaws. I am one person and I am a good person, I shouldn’t let my outsides define how I felt about my insides.
At this point I think my writing is getting a bit jumbled. Bear with me. I’ve never been that good at organizing my thoughts.
Ok, let’s continue.
I have been criticized by people close to me on my body. Hearing “you need to lose weight” multiple times a month. I would then go on to eating less out of shame or overeating out of spite. I would act like I didn’t care, but let’s be real, I did. Every time I started to love myself and feel good about how I looked, I would be sat down and spoken to about my weight. No one understood when I said I am happy with who I am, either that or they didn’t care. Either way, it sucked. So my confidence would plummet and I would hide behind clothes, and food, or the lack thereof.
Over time though, I have been able to block out the comments from others for the most part. I learned to do what I want and to do it for myself. I don’t do things because they are popular, I don’t feel that I have to look like a certain model in a magazine. I don’t try to conform to fit into society’s standards of what is “beautiful” and “acceptable”, and I love that about myself. I try my best to spread the same positivity that I bombard myself with. I want everyone to know that it is okay to look different from others, and it is okay to love yourself.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have my bad days. More than I would like to admit. But it’s a part of recovery and accepting yourself. It isn’t the bad days that mean something, it’s how you deal with them. I could easily curl up in a ball and hate on myself until I cry myself to sleep, or I can stand in the mirror, put on a cute outfit that makes me feel good and say, “I see you. I see the flaws. I see. But I am choosing to love myself anyway.”
Some days, I see myself and I think “I bet if I were skinnier, or prettier, I would have a boyfriend.” “I would have more friends if I were thinner.” “I bet if I looked better, I would be more popular. “I bet my music would be more talked about or I would have had a big break by now if I was easier to look at and fit the norms of the society.” But I can’t walk around thinking like that. None of it is true. And I may be telling myself that it’s not true and not believe it, but I have to start somewhere. One day, I will believe it.
I used to look at “plus-size” models or just regular girls online, wearing a bra and underwear, dancing to music and posting it online. Their smiles and their confidence radiated and resonated with me. I wanted that. So I went out and I searched for it. In no way was it easy, but there comes a time when you have to take control of your life and yourself because it is what is best.
Nothing worth having comes easy, and that applies to confidence and self-love. You have to work for it.
I am not ashamed of my body. I embrace my flaws. I embrace who I am. I love myself. No matter what anyone else says to me. I will never let what someone says dictate how I feel about myself. Ever.
I found a beautiful quote on Pinterest that I want to share with you.
I wish you luck on your journey to self-love. Remember, you are never alone.
(If you are interested in the body positive movement, feel free to follow my journey to self-love on Instagram.)
Also, if I am being 100% honest, I never thought I would ever publicly post this account anywhere for people I personally know to see. By my doing so, I look at that as a step in the right direction. I have nothing to be ashamed of, so why hide?
xoxo Christina Cecilia