#MyBodyStory is a weekly series of reader submitted pieces about what it’s like to live in your body.
If you have a story to share, please send it to : [email protected]
Remember, every body has a story.
Please Note: The opinions expressed in #MyBodyStory articles are the writer’s own.
And now, without further ado,
Here is Kaylie’s story.
The road to adulthood does not run smoothly.
In August of 2013, my family abruptly moved out of the house I grew up in. Soon after that, I began struggling and stumbling through three semesters of college as a theater major at Loyola Marymount University (LMU).
During this transition after the move, I was desperately trying to collect the pieces of fading friendships and make them whole again…
And then I lost my grandmother, the woman who had been my lifelong cheerleader through all of my many endeavors.
How was I supposed to manage all this, during my last week at LMU?
Because of everything that had happened, I ultimately decided to take some time off from school so I could take care of myself.
And while I can’t say that a rosebud emerged from the thorns immediately, in the fluorescent lighting of a Forever 21 dressing room, I liked the way my body looked in a bathing suit.
I snapped a selfie, and I felt so silly and embarrassed because I had never been so scantily clad. I have always been fat, but I’ve recently stumbled upon the revelation that it’s my own perception of myself that’s holding me back.
It’s the fear that crawling out of the tiny box I created for myself might cause a commotion.
That if I used my body, as-is, in mint “Kaylie Condition,” to the fullest of my abilities, that people around me would use my fat to tear me down. And although no one has used my body or my appearance to hurt me since a stupid bully did when I was a child, I was consumed by the fear that they would.
Unfortunately, growing up in musical theater, your body is scrutinized and squeezed into one category or another.
I suppose I felt this deeply, more so than I could even admit to myself or put into words as a teenager, because I could never accept what I saw in the mirror. I loved to perform, but I always had a difficult time giving it my all until the lights of the theater were grazing my face. It was then that I could let go and become that awesome, interesting character I had been cast as.
In rehearsals, directors might ask me to “give more” or “go all out”, but I was always afraid that “going bigger” would just point straight to how big I actually was.
Even years later in an acting class in college, I was scared that all my classmates would see was the way everything jiggled when I moved. To be a true triple threat, you have to learn to dance. I love to dance, and I’m decent, but I always struggle picking up choreography, because I’m so trapped in my head. Of all the styles, tap was the only one that ever stuck. I can make magic with my feet, and the rest of me just tags along for the ride.
But I would always choose to be in the back, not because I thought I would mess up necessarily, but because it would mean that no one was seeing me from behind.
Growing up with traditional Christian values also played its part in defining my self-image. I’ve never had a boyfriend, I’ve never been kissed, and I want to abstain from sex until marriage. I always assumed that since I wouldn’t be offering what it feels like all boys are looking for, and that because my body is large, I must be wholly undesirable.
But how did I come to this conclusion?
Especially when my faith teaches me that there is so much more to a person than their appearance or sexuality alone?
What if it was actually my own perceptions and conclusions that brought me to this place of self-loathing?
For so long, I was so incredibly uncomfortable in my own skin. I believed that my largeness was all people saw when they looked at me. I whittled my self-worth down to just my appearance, and deemed myself unworthy of love, friendship, and even my own dreams.
Standing in that dressing room brought about the end of a chapter, and a new beginning. It wasn’t until very recently that I started finding my confidence again, and it hasn’t been easy. Every day I face the fears that I carry close to my chest, with their curves and folds and cellulite. But recently I just decided to share myself with the world. My dear friend David, who’s an aspiring makeup artist (@ella.men.tary), started sharing his art on Instagram, and it inspired me to believe that I could take a shot at sharing myself in the best way I know how: through my clothes and personal style.
For as long as I can remember, no matter how I’ve felt on the inside, the way I dress has given me strength.
My grandma taught me to be a good shopper, and I’ve been doing her (and my friends Stacy and Clinton), justice ever since.
I make no claims that I am the perfect picture of anything, but if I can take ownership of my body, from my frizzy curly locks, to my beautifully weird baby toes, maybe the fears will subside for awhile?
And maybe I can be ok, just as I am.