I was looking in the mirror a few days ago at my mom’s house, because being in a different house with different mirrors — full-length mirrors, at that — really helped me see where I’ve made huge strides in losing 23 pounds since February. I actually see a fitter girl now. I can physically see a skinny girl coming together. And you would think that would make me feel overjoyed, freaking amazing, ready to run a marathon because I’m so excited by the prospect of finally being where I’ve always wanted to be. And to a certain extent it does, but there’s another part that looms saying that prospect is scary. Terrifying, even, because of one thing.
I don’t know how to BE a skinny girl.
And that sounds weird to say. There shouldn’t and isn’t really a way of “being” a skinny girl or a fat girl. You just develop your personality the way you develop it, and for some that means different things than for others. But the thing is, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t overweight. I started gaining a lot of weight when I was about 12, and went up and down throughout the next 10 years of my life. I got used to being the fat friend, the fat classmate, the fat family member.
And those weren’t all necessarily negative roles to me, I just adapted to them. I learned to accept the fact that I would never fit into clothes at Wet Seal, where my 4’11”, 95-pound friend could shop, or any of my other naturally skinny friends. I learned to accept that I wouldn’t get hit on at the water park or restaurants, or get asked to dances. That’s just how it was. I had pretty good friends who accepted me the way I was, a family that loved me the way I was, so why be that invested in changing it? Too much work.
But my personality developed around those roles. I learned to use sarcasm, self-deprecation and dry wit to gain people’s affection, making them laugh. I learned nuanced details about friends that others didn’t take the time to do, and I was always, ALWAYS there for them. I learned to seek out the misfits like I felt I was, and let irritation and jealousy take over when it came to the girls I secretly wanted to be more like. I learned to dislike them for their popularity with boys, for the way their clothes would always look better than mine, for the bikinis they wore all summer. I would never be those girls, so I might as well hate them (though hate is a strong word… I just strongly disliked them).
But now I’m faced with the prospect of being one of them, and I have no idea what that means. I find I don’t know how to shop for my body anymore, because it’s so different, but not yet where I want it to be. I don’t need to shop exclusively for shirts that don’t show my stomach. I don’t need to compensate with my boobs so much. I don’t have to shy away from tank tops and tube tops and shorts as much anymore. But that isn’t how I’ve ever dressed my body, so it’s all completely foreign. How much can I show off without being at goal weight? Will I ever feel okay wearing a bikini? How short of shorts are too short? Will people think I’m slutty, like I used to think of some of those girls? God, I was a judgmental little jerk. How can I not feel like a hypocrite if I turn to this lifestyle?
I know I’m overthinking it all. I know that it’s not about all of this — it’s about being healthier, happier, more confident. And all of those things are happening. But the tangential feelings still matter, and they’re still scary as hell. It’s like getting to know yourself all over again.
But at least, so far, I like the new me. That’s a positive step as well.