All throughout my life I have continuously been the “fat kid.” I didn’t look at myself any different than the other kids at school, but I just thought I was funny. I didn’t realize something was wrong when I would run the mile against my classmates and they would finish in half the time that I would. I’d laugh it off and think of it like a movie, like a punch line.
When you’re 6 or 7 you don’t see anything wrong when you look in the mirror. You’re only worried about who might be student of the week or if Jessica broke up with her “boyfriend” of the week. You don’t see the faults in yourself or start developing insecurities.
By the time I was 10, I had tried diets from a nutritionist, Atkins, wearing trash bags to help me sweat, and gym memberships. Being as young as I was, I mainly did it because I wanted to be like my step-mom. I didn’t do it because I thought there was something wrong with me.
Having my “friends” ditch me every other week and my parents going through a divorce, I found solace in food. Tipping the scale at 212 pounds in 6th grade I knew something was wrong. I started to grow angry and weary. I didn’t see the point to continue on trying because I thought no one would love me. If I didn’t fit the average criteria for girls my age than no one would ever love me. I planted that seed in the back of my mind and let it rot. It stayed with me for years and it still comes up every once in a while.
As I grew older I saw how the media portrayed women. Girls are brought up with the idea that they have to fit a perfect model. They can’t be stupid but not too smart, thin but not “anorexic” curvy but not “fat” athletic but not “boyish.” The list could continue for ages. Basically, you need to be Beyoncé, but only Beyoncé can be Beyoncé. You and I both know that she doesn’t wake up “flawless.”
What would have been the most beneficial to my preteen self would have been someone telling me that I am fine the way that I was but I needed to be cautious for health reasons. Instead, having that festering seed of doubt made me the person I am today.
Insecurity is something that is inside all of us; there is an entire industry that thrives off making sure that you feel terrible about yourself. Make up for the ones that feel ugly, diet pills for the ones that feel fat, drugs and alcohol to numb you out. Self worth is something that everyone needs work on.
I did an internship with Disney over the 2014 summer and fall semester. While I was there I met a lot of different, amazing people. Towards September I met two great friends Julia* and Tom*. Working in Disney, almost every guy I knew or worked with was gay. I started to fall in love with the idea of being with someone. Out of process of elimination I attached whatever idea I had of love to Tom, because he was the only straight guy in my group of friends. At the beginning of our friendship I knew that Tom would end up falling for Julia and that broke me. I had always been that friend, now termed the DUFF. I was tired of it. I didn’t understand why no one could love me. Months passed and my self-esteem plummeted. I started over analyzing everything and going to extremes. What was wrong with me? Why wasn’t I good enough? I continuously took it out on Julia, which wasn’t fair to her.
Eventually one night, Tom yelled at me and told me “being your friend is a chore.” This was the biggest wake up call I could get. I realized that there was nothing wrong with me. I shouldn’t have to apologize for my sensitivity or my heart. These are all parts of me that eventually someone will find “lovable.”
We shouldn’t try and search for love in the wrong places. We should find it within ourselves and give that love to others. Realizing that the people around me loved me should have been my focus. I had friends that cared about me and wanted me to be happy. My friend, Amanda, believes that “you don’t need to complete the checklist and get a boyfriend, but just appreciate what is already around you.” Once you start realizing your self worth you will only want to be around people who appreciate you, as well.
*Name have been changed