The Ups And Downs Of Being An Ugly Duckling

The way of things, at least from how my friends portray it, is that high school and college was supposed to be this magical, wonderful time where you have the time of your life. Nothing will ever compare to being young, beautiful, and carefree while going to prom, dances, and drunken parties…not to mention the multiple hookups. You wore these skimpy little outfits, danced all over each other at clubs, and got free drinks practically tossed at you in sexual desperation. Concerts, college dorms, and bars were places to flirt and have inappropriate fun with myriads of other attractive young people. Even now, my girlfriends can spend hours and hours reminiscing about how amazeballs it was during that point of their lives…living it up like only hot, young people can.

Then there was…very awkward me. My teens and early 20’s weren’t anything like described above. I went to a private Christian high school with a class of 15 people that excluded me (I started as a sophomore while they had all been together since kindergarten). It certainly didn’t help that I was 50-75 pounds overweight while the other girls were multiple sizes smaller than me. The boys found me amusing and sometimes treated me as one of the guys, but I didn’t get any romantic attention. I even had the mortifying experience of being stood up at my Junior Prom, this being after hours of trying to find a prom dress to fit a bra size 48DDD….and let me let you, they didn’t exist. I had to wear a mother-of-the-bride dress and then go alone, completely humiliated.

I used to want to cry every time I heard that I had such a pretty face, if only I “would just lose the weight”. Sure, losing that much weight as an insecure teen who uses food as a crutch seems totally plausible. *snorts* Like in a 90’s romantic comedy where they remove the “nerdy” girl’s glasses and all of a sudden she was so gorgeous that the entire football team wanted her, I used to wish that my fairy godmother would appear and melt my weight off then send me to the prom in a sexy little size 6 red dress. While the size 6 red dress eventually made its way into my life, it wasn’t until I was in my mid-20’s and prom was a distant memory (I wore it for my bachelorette if you were wondering).

I got my shit together after I realized that my life was passing me by. Not only were my weight issues making me feel insecure & rejected, I was destroying my body. I was in such constant back pain that I couldn’t handle everyday life. My friends even had to carry my groceries and laundry up to my second story apartment for me. I was 22, but I was living like I was in my 80’s. So I went to my doctor and said I was serious, I wanted a change. Gastric bypass and a completely new diet/exercise lifestyle later, and I was down over 100 pounds.

So here is when things got even more baffling for me. I thought that losing all this weight and changing my lifestyle would give me what I always wanted: Acceptance by my peers as an equal. The irony of this is that while I was losing weight and gaining confidence, a large number of my peers were starting to gain weight and lose confidence. I was the odd ball out again. No one wanted to go out flaunting how sexy we were on the dance floor, no one wanted to see how many free drinks we could get, and I had to beg people to take me somewhere I could wear a sexy dress.

When I was a teenager you had to drag me kicking and screaming to try on bathing suits and I honestly don’t think there was any motivation on this earth that could have crammed my fat ass into a two piece. Now that I finally have the figure that I always dreamed of, I wanted to buy a real bikini…but I’ve never bought one before so I wanted someone to come with me for support. My friends, on the other hand, were horrified that I even suggested going to try on suits together. “Are you kidding me??!! I utterly LOATHE bathing suit shopping!! I would rather DIE than have someone see me in a two piece!!” You would have thought I asked them to join me in shaving off my eyebrows and rolling around naked in broken glass. Wait….what??!! Are you fucking kidding me right now? I’VE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE AND MY FRIENDS WHO HAVE DONE THIS IN FRONT OF ME FOR YEARS ARE REFUSING TO GO WITH ME??!! *slams head into wall*

I felt utterly ripped off, angry, and bitter. I’ve had to sit back and watch my peers living the life I always wanted for almost a decade, and the moment I finally feel comfortable enough to join in, all of a sudden I’m alone on the proverbial dance floor. There were a few months where I tried desperately to get my friends to do all the young adult things that I had missed out on, but the efforts never paid off. They had already had their fun as teens and now they just weren’t interested any longer. For a while I honestly felt like I missed my chance and all the crazy, fun, and irresponsible activities I wanted to do weren’t going to happen for me. But then I discovered something that hadn’t occurred to me before. Maybe I could do all the crazy, irresponsible things I wanted to do….with my man.

I had met my now husband when I was less than 4 months out from gastric bypass. He has been there supporting me through my struggle to become healthy and happy with my body…and it wasn’t the most fun process to be frank. Losing weight and changing your entire lifestyle makes you cranky, but he was literally there for me through thick and thin. In fact, he was probably the only other person in the world who was as excited for my body and self-image changes as I was. So I sucked it up, crossed my fingers, and asked him: “How would you feel about going swim suit shopping with me?”

As much as most men hate shopping, the prospect of watching me flaunt ass in a bunch of bikinis like his own personal Victoria Secret model appealed to him (why didn’t I think of that sooner?) and I found out that I LOVED it. Next thing I knew, I was strutting around the local swimsuit store like a horny 21 year old on spring break in Mexico, shaking my ass at him. I felt amazing, not to mention a little naughty as the sales clerk was giving us a few “get a room” looks. And I realized, this was what I had been looking for…to feel young and stupid and unapologetically sexual. I didn’t need a bunch of strangers in a bar hitting on me, I just needed my man to affirm that he wanted me…in a crazy, slightly NSFW way. After finally picking out a new bikini in purple, we drove home with our hands all over each other and had hot sweaty sex like insane teenagers practically in our garage. Bathing suit shopping as an adult can be sexy and fun? Who knew?!!

After that, if I wanted to do something flamboyant and a little risqué that my friends weren’t interested in, I asked my husband. Our relationship became the most freeing and exciting thing that has ever happened to me. At first it was little things like shopping for lingerie together or flirting outrageously in public…. that turned into going out to bondage clubs together, dressing up in sexy little outfits and having him take seductive pics of me…and eventually he even talked me into going to a Jamaican nudist resort. He took the time and effort to make me feel beautiful, accepted, and young. In return, we have the most romantic, sexual, and freeing relationship that I’ve ever experienced.

The point of this story is to tell people that sometimes things happen out of order in life. You don’t get the expected A to B to C experience. Maybe your childhood and teenage years were horrible, but that doesn’t mean that your future has to be. Maybe you missed out on something that you wanted SO DESPERATELY that you can taste it and you think “Nope, I’m not going to get that” and you might be totally correct. But you might end up getting something even better in return.

I’ll always feel a little sad that my prom was a disaster, that I don’t have a bunch of high school & college glory-days to tell stories about, and that I won’t even have the opportunity to show my classmates that I’ve changed (you don’t get high school reunions when you graduated with 14 other people). But you know what? That’s OK. I’m doing more inappropriate, crazy, fun things now than I ever would have in my teens and I can even afford my own drinks (though my wonderful man makes it unnecessary). A kickass added bonus is that I don’t have to worry about STDs, being robbed, or that my friends will drunkenly abandon me at a club….I’m having young adult fun in my late 20’s and 30’s with a man who truly loves me. And that beats going to some lame ass prom with a pimple-faced teenage boy any day of the week. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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