I’ve always been a bigger girl. The few times in my life that I’ve been thinner have taken months of endless trial and error strategies to figure out what works for my body. There were times I tried just about everything and there were times I gave up. I didn’t realize for the longest time that I was beautiful. At one point in my childhood, I noticed the girls who were thinner were adored more and considered prettier than me. I wasn’t one of those girls. I was laughed at, mocked, ridiculed and perceived as JUST the fat girl. I really did believe all of this. I believed that I just wasn’t blessed with beauty and was given a fat body. I believed that I would just have to live with this. And I did, for a long time. I wished for a beautiful body and to fit into this world where I wasn’t criticized and could just be purely loved, the way thinner women were loved.
By the time I was in high school, I had so much embedded in my brain and carved into my heart that I didn’t see that I had people who loved me right in front of me. It got worse and worse for me because I was looking in the mirror hearing and feeling the hateful remarks and actions made towards me that drowned out anything else around me. It got so bad, that by the tail end of my time in high school, it all came pouring out. It just exploded like a violent eruption and I began hurting myself. Physically. Emotionally. I was beginning to hear these voices in my head that were on repeat from my childhood. I would escape my home and walk the neighborhood almost like a zombie. I was so lost. I felt like I was in a cloud. The things people said to me at the time, I couldn’t quite hear or understand. Then someone who was friends with many of my own friends took his own life. And it hit me, I could do the same, too. What a solution that could be, I thought. The voices and the pain and the cloud would disappear. No one seemed to understand why I was feeling this way. No one seemed to get that it wasn’t what was currently in front of me: it wasn’t the friends, the band accomplishments, the home life, none of that. It was the past. I remembered the past but I couldn’t that it was what caused my present pain. I couldn’t get rid of the cloud that was growing thicker, faster and faster. The scars were getting so thick on my heart that it was like I had no way out.
I never realized any of this until I left the adolescent unit and spent time in therapy. By the time I graduated, the cloud was feeling less foggy. I spent the next few years of college accepting the way I look, understanding I wasn’t beautiful and being okay with not loving myself. The two years I spent completely devoted to my health is when my body began to change. About two months before I got pregnant, I told myself that I was beautiful, and I believed me.
And then my body transformed back to before once I gave birth. The rolls and the curves and the fat. All on my body, reminding me of what once was before. The unworthy woman and young girl who was mocked for the body she lived inside. But then I saw Maci in her little bouncer. She was 6 full pounds of the most beautiful little human.
And I knew it then, in that moment, they were all wrong.
I knew that she would grow up one day and see her mother, broken, and think she was the same. This was not going to happen. I stared in that damn mirror for the very first time, butt naked and bawled my eyes out. I am beautiful. I said it on repeat as my engorged breasts dripped milk that she couldn’t even latch on to during that time, swollen from the endless pumping. I am beautiful. I said on repeat as my stomach hung down low and covered up every bit of my womanhood. I am beautiful. I said on repeat as I turned to the side and everything jiggled. I am beautiful. I said to my stomach completely covered in stretch marks. I am beautiful.
And so I worked. I pushed and fought and showed up to work outs. I haven’t looked back since. And even though, I’m not there yet… I am beautiful.
But, then I get online, and I see this… (these are the actual quotes)
“You won’t live long looking so fat”
“Have you heard of something called a diet”
“Stop blaming having a baby for being such a cow”
“You should be ashamed for raising a child to think being fat is okay”
“Do yourself a favor and skip eating for about a month”
“The world would be better without fat pigs like you”
“Fat people are so annoying with their self love BS so just stop”
I could go on, but that’s what I’m sent sometimes. People think that hiding behind screens isn’t as bad as saying it in person. That it’s easy to just delete them or block them or not even finish reading the message. Or that having a public account means you can say whatever you want and that we should just be able to handle it. But no. That’s not the way it works. The people behind the photos you see are real people, like me. With real stories and real life experiences. With families and struggles and trigger words and therapy sessions and heart ache and feelings. The shaming and the bullying has got to stop. I’ve come a long way and have gotten stronger emotionally and mentally in my lifetime, but that doesn’t mean I can’t fall straight down to my knees and burn inside with hurt from words that are like gasoline on old wounds.
I am a strong woman,
But I feel pain, too.
I am a strong woman,
But I feel sadness, too.
I am a strong woman,
But, please remember, that
I AM HUMAN, TOO.