#MyBodyStory is a series of reader submitted pieces about what it’s like to live in your body. Because every body has a story, and every story deserves to be heard.
Do you have a #MyBodyStory to share? Send it to Story@DoTheHotpants.com
And now, here is Barbara’s Body Story:
The opinions expressed in #MyBodyStory are the writer’s own.From the beginning I was I fat. Okay, from the age of 7…I was fat.
My fatness was always viewed as a “problem.” A problem that my parents were very concerned about fixing. Growing up, it seemed being fat was the worst thing that could ever happen to a person.
I have memories from the age of 10 of my mother going on diets and asking me to join. I was dragged to Weight Watchers meetings, church diet support groups, and doctor visits. At regular doctor visits my mother would ask: I know we’re here for strep throat, but I’m concerned about her weight.
I remember if I complained about any pain or discomfort, my dad would say: Well your -blank- wouldn’t hurt if you lost weight.
Not to mention, all four of my sister were tiny, athletic and conventionally attractive. I never felt like I fit it with my family, and my fat body was just a disappointment. I felt so much less loved because I grew out of my cuteness and just became this fat kid.
In school, I had the hardest time making friends. I struggled heavily with social anxiety and depression and was very shy. So, I was deemed “the weird fat kid”. Being a mixed raced awkward fat girl did me no favors in school. So, I spent a lot of time alone. I eventually transferred to a private school because I was so unhappy and I was struggling to keep up with my education. It was a much smaller school and all the kids were also kinda weird and awkward like me, so I made a few friends.
But by high school I had completely isolated myself from my family, and made no effort to make new friends. I felt like I was an inconvenience to my parents, my teachers and my classmates. The only true attention I received was from people pointing out my fatness. We all know that kids are mean; but so are adults.
Because of my color, body, religious upbringing and lack of social skills, growing up in a small midwestern town did nothing for my dating life. And because of this, I was a late bloomer and didn’t even hold hands with a boy until I was 18. Dating was nothing I had any practice with in my adolescent years and I was very naive.
By then, I was in desperate need of love and looked to the internet for it. I met a lot boys who were into my fat body, but upon reflection, I learned that they were ashamed of their attraction to fat bodies and took that shame out on me. My last boyfriend took the last ounce of self-esteem I had, and put it in a blender. Cue, that Eve 6 song everyone knows.
After he destroyed my self image, I had to start all over again. I had to refigure out my relationship with myself. So I did. And this is want I learned:
1. I never hated my body, I hated how other people felt about my body. Because of this, I did everything I could to not offend other people in the world, which is bullshit and not a way to live.
2. There are a ton of people who are attracted to fat bodies.
3. I shouldn’t have to change myself to appease others. If they don’t like who I am, the can leave and it’s no loss to me.
4. Fat people have sex too.
5. Loving my body is nothing to be ashamed of.
Discovering these things totally changed my life. I was able to share my body with the world without any shame or apology. I became fed up with the fat shaming, diet culture, fatphobic world I live in, and I started calling out my friends and family for saying fatphobic things, or fat shaming others or themselves. I started calling out the men who when rejected called me “fat.” But I no longer found that offensive.
I started wearing crop tops and taking scantily clad photos for Instagram. I started using my voice to start discussions and bring attention to the issues of fat people. I became an admin for a fat positive facebook group that encouraged group discussions for fat people. In doing all of this, I felt so much freedom. No longer being afraid to live in the world as an apologetic fat person has given me so much less to worry about. I can focus on other things, like my Millennial problems!
I love my fat body. I love it’s curves, it’s dimples, it’s rolls. Every stretch mark, scar and spot. I could do without the chub rub though. And yes, there are things about my body that I’m not super happy with. But, my body keeps me alive. It pumps blood through my veins, keeps air in my lungs, and heals me when I break. My body is mine and I make great efforts to treat it well. Emotionally, physically and spiritually.
At the end of the day, you only get one body. I find that life is more fulfilling when you live your life for you and not for the world.
My goals moving forward are to help people find body positivity for themselves. I believe that everyone can benefit by developing a loving relationship with their bodies. And like every relationship, it takes work and time. I didn’t wake up just loving my body. I didn’t just figure out what my issues were in a ten second thought. It took a lot of time and effort on my part to do this. It’s not going to come easily or quickly. But I promise, it will come if you put in the work. It’s still a struggle some days, and I do have to check myself. But, It’s now second nature to find a kind thing about my body. Even on the worst of days.
The relationship with yourself is the longest relationship you will ever have. It only makes sense to put the most effort into it. Finding self love and love for my body was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I’m thankful for it every day.
So, here are my truths.
-I am a smart beautiful black fat woman.
-I have people in my life who truly loves and care – for me. At that’s the point.
-I’m fully capable to do whatever I want to do.
-I am flawed but it’s okay.
-Sometimes, people need to let you go and that’s okay.
-Not everyone is worthy of your forgiveness. But let that shit go.
Follow Barbara on Instagram