I remember the first time someone called me fat.
I was in middle school, a time in anyone's life that's particularly trying unless you are Barbie doll perfect, and blessed with an iron clad, healthy self-esteem.
I was neither.
I was short, in 'advanced' classes, no one had taught me how to 'fix' my hair, I wasn't allowed to wear makeup, and I was still dressing in looney toon tshirts. The fact that I had sprouted ginormous boobs, seemingly overnight, did not go unnoticed or uncommwnted on by the woefully unoriginal adolescent males. Also, the little clique of perfect popular girls seemed set on making every day a misery for me.
The moment that was to be branded into my memory for all of eternity took place in the mandatory, co-ed Home Ec class that I was less than thrilled to be taking. This particular day, we were handed a brown paper bag and some strips of paper. We were supposed to write something nice about each person, fold it up, and put it in their paper bag. Then one by one we were supposed to stand up, pull out one slip of paper, and read it in front of the class. People stood up, reached in, and read things like 'I love your hair' or 'cool shirt'. Back then, I wasn't acquainted with my dear friend anxiety, so I wasn't particularly apprehensive about reading a strip of paper in front of some classmates. I stood up, reached into my brown bag, and pulled out a folded up strip of paper. My stomach crumpled up into a little ball and crawled into my throat when I read what was on the paper. Written in pencil, three little letters, written big enough to cover most of the paper, stared back at me: FAT. Back then I wasn't as talented at swollowing my emotions and hiding how I really feel behind a carefully constructed mask of cool indifference. I'm pretty sure my face turned red (which is impossible to miss on someone as pale as me), and I looked distressed because my Home Ec teacher marched over and snatched the paper from my hands. She was angry and lectured the class on how they should not be cruel etc. I just remember sitting back down, fighting to not cry, and desperately wanting to fold myself in to make myself smaller.
I remember hating my body all through my teens and twenties. There wasn't a diet pill that I didn't try, or a fad diet that I didn't subject myself to. Things had to get worse before they got better. It all started with a comment made by a guy I fancied myself in love with. We weren't 'together', but we were close friends, and we fooled around a lot. One day a mutual friend finally came to me and said he felt he needed to tell me something so that I would quit wasting my time with this guy. He told me that the guy I had been fooling around with said that I was 'too fat to date publicly'. It was like a punch to the gut. It broke my heart, it broke something in me. Then when he got involved with someone much thinner and younger than me I went into a deep depression. That on top of being laid off, sent me down a dark path, and when I finally shook myself out of it I had gained 100lbs.
If I hated my body before, it was nothing compared to how much I loathed it now. I could barely walk around campus between classes, and I was embarrassed for anyone to see me. I stopped going out, I refused to see my friends. The moment that changed everything was when I saw my graduation photos. It took me 10 years to finish college because I had to go part time, when I could, while working 40+ hours a week. I was proud of myself and I wanted the world to know that I achieved this goal. However, I was too ashamed of my body to even purchase the photos. After that. I started the diet and exercise regimen that I've mentioned before. I lost 120lbs, and I felt a lot better about my body...but what I had put it through had left its mark. My body isn't perfect and there are parts I still loathe about it. I still worry about anyone seeing me naked, that they'll be disgusted, and I'll once again be deemed 'too fat to date'.
The thing is, I've started fighting back against those thoughts. I have a belly pooch, stretch marks, and cellulite. My thighs touch, a lot. It doesn't mean that I'm not cute as hell. If I feel cute, and I feel like taking a photo of myself, it's my way of fighting back against my own negative self-image. What doesn't help at all is when friends/aquaintances make negative comments about me and those photos. I've spent so much time hating everything about my body, and it has taken me a lot of time and effort to get to a place where I feel good enough about myself to post pictures for the whole world to see and comment on. When someone I've allowed to be a part of my life makes negative comments about me posting these photos, they take a wrecking ball to all the work I've done. I wish I had a thicker skin, but I tend to trust people much more than I should. I'm working on it though. The encouragement and support of the amazing people in my life helps a lot.
I think what I'm trying to say is that you should really watch what you say to people. You never know how much your words are going to damage someone, or how they can scar someone for life.
To the people who judge me for posting cute photos of myself: Fuck you.