I am more than the number on my tag. I am more than the fads in the magazines. I am more than the words of a critic. I am so much more.
I admit, things have been a bit rough for me the past few days. It’s amazing how just one small crack in your foundation can bring everything tumbling down. For me, this crack was a few damaging words about my weight from a close friend. I am not going to recite them, for the sake of this friend, but they inadvertently made a speculation about my body size. As this comment was being said, I felt my face getting hot, hands get shaky, and eyes fill with tears, before asking this individual to take me home.
Once home, I broke down. My body was shaking uncontrollably out of anger and humility, streams of tears were only interrupted by gasps for air and convulsive coughing. I was a mess. Even after the initial night of tears had ended, I was starkly reminded of my insecurities while trying on 15+ outfits over the course of two hours the next morning.
Words are incredibly harmful when spoken by ill-intentioned adversaries, but can be near fatal to one’s self-esteem when said by a close friend. A girl’s body image is often the most fragile part of her confidence and the largest source of her insecurities, thanks to the pressure that society has placed on us. So while it is one thing to have insecurities that you keep to yourself and maybe a couple of close friends, it is devastating to have those insecurities actualized by another person.
Being completely transparent, I have always been a “bigger” girl. I’ve always been aware of it, but that does not mean I am okay with it. I was a year-round athlete my whole life (up until this year), and have certainly been careful to watch what I eat. I have tried most diets, made up some of my own, and even gone as far as to eat only 20 carbs a day for four months at one point in my life. Despite all these efforts to try to “look like the other girls”, I have consistently remained basically the same body shape.
While I am sure that there is more I can do to get that body that I’ve only ever dreamed of, I also realize that I do not want to be defined merely by how I look. I strive to be defined by the impact that I make on other people’s lives through relationships, the passion that I put into every task I complete, and the love that I show to everyone who crosses paths with me. I want to be known as a world changer, not a girl who let the world change her. Those are the qualities that I want to be invested in. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly work hard to ensure that I am healthy and happy with my own body, but I refuse to let others think it is okay for them to compare and evaluate it.
My first memorable encounter with this took place in Jr. High, when a boy outright told me (to my face) that I was fat. Though I did get some consolation in his best friend shoving him across the room after hearing that, the comment was forever etched into my ego. These words, and the words of a variety of people in the past who have made me feel uncomfortable in my own skin, are what brought me down the other night. My friend didn’t realize how badly they had hurt me in the moment, but those couple of remarks cracked open the giant can of insecurities that I had sealed away years ago. Once that can is cracked open, the flood of thoughts that come rushing in to follow is overwhelming.
“If one of my best friends thinks this of me, who else thinks that of me?”
“You wrote down that you need a large t-shirt on the ordering sheet, are you sure? Surely you aren’t a large.”
“How can anyone ever find me attractive if they think I can’t control my body?”
“Maybe if I stop eating for a couple of days here and there, it will make me feel normal.”
“Remember that time you went shopping with your friends…and they were all 2 sizes smaller than you?”
“I can only be successful if I am skinny, then more people will like me.”
….and those are just the tip of the iceberg. The sheer amount of doubts that ran through my head the other night were staggering, and quite frankly it will take a couple of months for me to wrangle them all back into the little part of my brain where they stay locked away. But they are always there, waiting to be set free again by any little disturbance of body confidence.
I am not writing this post to try and make “fat” seem “cool”. “Fat” is a word that needs to be left in the past. The only thing that should matter when evaluating oneself is whether you are happy, wholesome, and healthy. I say “evaluating oneself” because it is not the place of any other regular person to judge you on any one of these qualities. Yes, a doctor can measure how healthy you are, but only you can make the changes necessary to achieve all three aspects.
Lastly, for those of you reading this who are fighting off your body image demons currently, I challenge you to find a mirror right now (a front facing camera will do) and repeat these words back to yourself until they stick:
You are stronger than you realize.
You are more unique than will ever be appreciated.
You are more beautiful than most are willing to admit.
You are more loved than you could ever imagine.
It will take a bit for those words to find refuge amidst your doubts, but I challenge you to let them sink in. There may be tears, in fact there will most likely be tears. Do NOT EVER let yourself think any less than what you have just told yourself.
You are more than the number on your tag. You are more than the fads in the magazines. You are more than the words of a critic. You, my dear, are so much more.