I once had an ex-boyfriend use his most mature conversation skills when I broke up with him by saying, “Well, I hope you know that no one is ever going to love you like me. And I hope that if you do find someone he doesn’t have to see you naked because you’re fat.”
Now, here I was, a girl who hadn’t yet hit twenty and therefore still trying to find out what she even is, having a boy who she had spent many, many months loving calling her that dreaded three letter word. The logical part of me heard that and thought, “Well that is clearly just not how you feel given that you started with how much you love me and ended with an insult.”
The dominant, dramatic side of me burst into tears.
Since I hit an age when I was aware of my body and that it can look different depending on what I do to it, I’ve acknowledged that I am not a “small girl”. Single digit pants are not my thing, haven’t been since I was twelve. My bra size hasn’t been smaller than a C since I was in grade eight. I’m five foot eight. I’m just not small in general. As a girl growing up in the age of stick-thin model magazines, a high prevalence of eating disorders, and diet suggestions everywhere, I can honestly say there were times it just wasn’t easy. It doesn’t matter if you have a family that loves you and supports you and tells you you’re beautiful (as mine does), because whether you like it or not, we’re all still self conscious.
So you can imagine what that one simple statement from my ex did to me.
Prior to him saying that, I was under the impression that I was, although not the skinniest, still a pretty good thing to look at. I had my bouts of downer self esteem but for the most part I felt alright. Shorts weren’t really my friend but I still wore two-piece bathing suits, super pale skin and all. Then he said that and shorts became my mortal enemy and my skin became translucent and none of my clothes looked good. It didn’t matter that he was a total dingbat, which I knew, it mattered that someone that I had always thought I could be confident around had just called me fat.
I know we’ve had this conversation before, perhaps not you and I, but you and someone else. The conversation about how we speak to young girls, what we call them, and what to criticize and not. We’ve had the conversation about images they see and things that they hear. We have spoken previously about negative influences and bulimia. I’m sure you have had your own moment where someone has said or done something that has destroyed you.
But on the off-chance you haven’t, know this: you never know how what you can say can impact a person in the long-term. You never know how one little comment can make someone else’s world fall apart.
I’m lucky that I was seemingly born confident, independent, and stubborn, otherwise I’m sure I would have been down on myself for a lot longer than I was. Although I may have been a little shaky and broken inside because of it, I didn’t allow other people to see it – anyone who saw me for the rest of that summer saw me in a two-piece.
Since then I’ve discovered the beauty of having a body that doesn’t look like the girls that I saw growing up on covers of magazines. I’ve discovered the beauty of eating carbs and simply being aware of the fact that they are going to have an impact on your body but enjoying them anyways. I’ve discovered the beauty of shorts.
In the six years since that conversation to now I have also discovered a part of my self esteem that no comment can ever touch. I’m a size twelve with a wobbly stomach, pale legs with a bit of cellulite, and a penchant for baked goods. I still eat my fruits and vegetables, my lean proteins and have a good breakfast every day. I’m not unhealthy but I know I could at least try to find the desire to work out more.
But I’m not fat.
And, to be honest, there was a time when I was in much better shape than I am now. I was working out consistently and making sure that I was eating properly. I looked good, I’ll admit. It didn’t make a difference in my attitude towards myself, though, if anything it made it worse. I was always trying to be better.
I have found the happiness in taking long walks and rewarding yourself with a cookie and pretending it evens out. I have found the happiness in having a relatively flat stomach that I can still grab a little bit of if I so desire (which often I do not because why would I do that?). And if you want me to be completely frank here I’ll admit that I don’t think I’ve ever looked better naked than I do these days (sorry for the TMI, dad).
And there is a beauty in that which goes beyond body fat percentage, cutting out carbs, and doing my lunges.
Because now I know that there are probably plenty of people who will never love me like he did, they will love me better. And they will all want to see me naked, especially my fat bits.