It’s taken me almost 24 years to learn how to love my body.
When I was younger, I’d rush home from school for my daily dose of TRL followed by 106 & Park. My eyes would be glued to the TV as I tried to mimic the latest dance moves and hairstyles. Around 13, I became obsessed with the video model aesthetic. I studied video vixens. Everything from their perfect long hair and amazing skin to the way that they were able to apply lipstick and hypnotize a man with their curves simultaneously, amazed me. My friends and I would often argue over who had a better body— Melyssa Ford or Gloria Velez.
We were all under the impression that our video vixen like curves would come instantaneously with puberty. My mother was tall and curvy, so I’d only hope to grow up and be shaped like her. My childhood crush used to tell me that if I’d let him play “hide the snake,” my hips would fill out.
I never did and in turn? I was stuck with the hips of Spongebob Square pants for another year.
Once high school came around, my weight became one of my biggest insecurities. Though I was always one of the tallest girls my class, I hadn’t quite thinned out as my older family members predicted. My face was as round as my stomach and the only things that were bigger were my boobs. By my sophomore year, what was once a small B-cup bra (that I lined with thick paper towel) was now a full blown 36 D. It didn’t help that Rich Boy’s “Throw Some D’s” became popular (and my theme song in school) around that time either. My chest was hard to hide and became the first place people looked before my face. I hated it. I resented my body for not being what I imagined it to be based off of what I saw on TV or Tumblr.
I hid myself in clothes that were bigger than me hoping that in some way they’d cover my problem areas and insecurities.
With a habit of eating chicken boxes twice a day, drinking liquor from Thursday to Sunday, and ordering pizza whenever I had enough money; I gained way past the “Freshman 15”. I was at my biggest my Sophomore/Junior year coming in at 219. My friends never really understood why I was so insecure about my weight. Because I was tallish, I never “looked fat” to them, I was just “thick”. But at the point, I felt fat.
I could see how big my face was when I went to apply makeup before class. I could see how my stomach wasn’t as flat as other girls in crop tops. My chest was a 34 F and I couldn’t fit the cute Victoria Secret bras anymore. My cups would spill out and I would find myself looking down and adjusting every five minutes to avoid a nip slip. I’d often avoid mirrors before going out to a party because I knew I wasn’t going to be satisfied with how I looked. Even when it came to sex, I’d make sure all the lights were off or I had a t-shirt on. If I didn’t wasn’t comfortable with looking at me, I figured he wouldn’t be either.
I played with the idea of loving and accepting my body for what it was, but I often relied on other’s compliments to feel good about myself— especially in relationships. Around the second semester of my junior year, I got really sick and lost about 60 pounds in a short time before summer. When I uploaded a picture to Instagram, my comments were flooded with compliments. “You look great” and “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing,” were just a few. I was finally at the weight I thought I needed to be. I was getting compliments every time I left the house. My clothes were fitting better. But, I wasn’t happy. In fact, I was hungry as hell. Living with gastritis ( an inflammation, irritation, or erosion of the lining of the stomach), meant that there were a lot of things I just couldn’t eat without feeling horrible.
Though I was “skinny”, I still didn’t feel comfortable showing off my body. I often wore my at the time boyfriend’s clothes over my own. As my health got better, I saw myself gaining the weight back and panicked. I was skinny when I met my “him”, but would he still like me the same bigger? Would he be ashamed of how I looked? I often forced and begged him to give me compliments on my body. Though I could tell he was growing tiresome of my constant need of reassurance, my confidence relied on what he thought of me.
After our breakup, I felt as if I had no one to lift me up anymore. My entire spirit was crushed and I felt horrible about myself. A few tears, 20 pounds and a couple of months by myself later, I’ve come to realize that I have to love my body before anyone else does. I stood in front my mirror and instead of poking, prodding, and sucking in my gut, I stared and pointed out the things about my body I liked. I love how thick my thighs are. I love the size of my waist. Though they’re a literal pain in my back sometimes, I’ve learned to love my boobs. And I love how damn near 24 years later, I’m finally getting some hips.
Before I start my day, I tell myself something that I love about my body. I’m comfortable and a lot more confident with my body and that’s the best part of any outfit.