Have You ever felt like this?
Since i was a young Lad, i have always been “big boned”, wait, there is no such thing as “big boned”, look i was a little chubby. What normal little kid wasn’t? I loved the attention from family members and especially my grandmother. She would pinch my cheeks and call me her “chocolate baby”. Those memories were the happiest of my childhood, until it wasn’t. My first realization that i weighed a little too much is when i was seven years old. My aunt and i was playing around and she decided to try and pick me up, oh boy why did she do that? not only did we both fall, but all the weight of my body landed on her big toe and that poor toe hasn’t been right ever since, travesty right? My mom wanted to set an example for leading a “healthy lifestyle” so she started to work out in the mornings, and drink slim fast like it was water. She had her insecurities as well and she wanted to become her small size that she was before she had me. After eating my oatmeal each morning my mom would turn on her exercise video, i would get on the floor with her and mimic every movement. I always wondered “why is she doing all these silly movements with her body? she sure has energy, and how can she drink those yucky chocolate drinks? iv’e tried them and they aren’t that great”. The workouts and slim fast payed off and she dropped the weight, but it seemed her habits and routines rubbed off on me. She would try to encourage me, but she stopped, i guess she figured since i was a little kid i would run around and all the baby fat would go away.
In elementary i was the “fat girl”. Kids made fun of me, not only was i chubby, but i had a very dark complexion. The names they would call me would sting in the beginning, but after awhile i just became immune. That is when my personalty flourished. I might have been fat, but i bet i was going to make good grades, run for student body president, and be the funniest kid in school. Some days the teasing was overwhelming. I would go home and tell my mom, she would tell me to not listen to those children and if i wanted it to stop then maybe i should loose weight. That is when it began, the low self esteem and humiliation for looking the way i looked. When i look back at it now, my mom wasn’t trying to intentionally hurt me, but she wanted me to be healthy. When i went to routine checkups at the doctors they would always classify me as being overweight for my age, and with that came resources and many brochures. I know my mom was concerned and it became a wake up call because she had gotten it confirmed from an experienced physician. From that point on my mother changed the way we ate, fried foods would be limited to once a week, vegetables were introduced, and kool aide was no longer the drink of choice. I hated it! I wanted that nice cold cup of sugary red kool-aide, I wanted those chocolate chip cookies in the pantry shelf. Coming from a low income neighborhood meant that we had little no any resources on healthy eating and portion control. The pamphlets from the doctor were the only thing we had to go off of, and some of the “healthy foods” were hard to purchase because of the price, most people in my neighborhood were receiving food stamps, including me. My mom was doing the best she could to make sure my sister and i always had a full fridge, we never went Hungry. I remember waking up in the middle of the night, sneaking cookies, and eating cake frosting. Some nights i got away with the crime, other nights the food police(my mom) caught me in action. Even though my mom tried to cook healthy meals, she would not have the energy for it at times because of work so we would stop by McDonald’s or grab a pizza. I didn’t overly eat, but i loved food.
As i was going into junior high school i started to become more insecure about the way i looked. I was at a stage where puberty started to set. I hadn’t come into my girlish looks yet. Being fat gave me a identity, i also identified as a Tomboy.
I would wear the most baggiest clothes. I thought they would make me look cool, and i would be able to hide my body. I hated dresses and wouldn’t be caught dead in a skirt or tight shirt. This was also a time in my life where i started to like the opposite sex. I had a major crush on this boy Ariel, he was the hottest thing since sliced bread, and he had the eyes that were just as blue as the ocean. I lurked in the background while all the cute light skinned skinny girls would flirt and giggle with Ariel. I noticed that he never talked to the girls who had darker skin. But All i could do is admire him from afar, he would never take a second look at a girl like me. I would go home, look in the mirror and wished the my skin was lighter and my body was thinner. My mother always told me how beautiful i was, and how i should be proud of my complexion, and that she only wanted me to be healthy when the subject of weight came up, but at that age i didn’t want to receive it, i didn’t believe anything because my looks didn’t catch the attention of my peers and Ariel. I wished that i could be as thin and pretty as the late singer Aaliyah and a frame like the singer Mya. There was no Lizzo or Joanne Borgella, Ashley Graham, Tess holiday, or Dainielle Brooks. In the 90’s there were no child/teen that was my complexion and that looked like me on television . Traditional media considered “being heavy” not acceptable, there was and still is a stigma about being overweight. No one considered that maybe it was a genetic factor, something medical going on like a thyroid condition. People in our society assume that heavier people just sit around and stuff their faces like you see on “My 600lb Life”, in some ways, with some people, that would be accurate, but not everyone falls into that box.
During the summer of 2000 My aunt Stacey had loss a tremendous amount of weight. My mom and i both noticed how great she looked. My mom asked my aunt what she did to loose so much weight, my aunt mentioned that she was doing the Atkins diet. Now, back then Atkins consisted of only eating lean meat, vegetables, cheese, and sugar free desserts(basically no carbohydrates). My mom mentioned that we should both try the diet together, and we would be able to motivate one another. I was apprehensive about it, it was a change and a habit i didn’t want to break, but i knew we both needed the body reset. My mom and i both loved food! but we knew what we were consuming weren’t good for our bodies. My mom and i decided that the next day we would start our “diet”, if the “diet” had failed then we agreed to try something else. Boy was it a challenge! seeing my peers eat junk at lunch time while i ate a salad really made me feel excluded. The few friends i had would ask me why my eating habits changed, they expressed that they saw nothing wrong with me, but i wanted to show my mom and myself that i could stick to the food plan.
As i became closer to graduating from the 8th grade i started seeing and feeling the weight loss. My confidence had soared, i started to dress more “girly”, I started to get my eyebrows arched, and my peers started to notice. I had the great personality all along, but now, i had the body to match or so i thought. Ariel had moved away suddenly so i never got the chance to even shoot my shot.
I saved myself the embarrassment of approaching and being rejected. At least I knew i had done good when my mom and i went inside of target one day and i was able to fit clothes in the juniors department, i no longer needed to shop in the adult woman section. My mom was proud and that made me proud, this weight loss had made her happy. I finally was able to stick to something and achieve my goal. Even at a routine doctors visit, my doctor had asked what things had changed since the last visit. I told her that i was becoming more active and cutting out carbohydrates and desserts. The scale confirmed that i had lost 30 lbs. Even though i had looked great physically i wasn’t able to really enjoy what i saw when i looked in the mirror, i felt like the weight that i worked so hard to lose wasn’t enough to get attention from “the boys” i started to think were cute, i wasn’t skinny, but in my mind i knew “thick” wasn’t going to get it either. It was all in my head. Towards the end of the 8th grade year i started to build friendships with my peers, the weight loss even got me noticed with the “popular kids”. I met dope people in my choir and Drama class. I had come out of my turtle shell, talking, and frequently socializing. Surprisingly i even received compliments from boys, they would tell me that i was much nicer than the other girls and i carried myself in a way that made me more approachable, those things were all nice things to hear, but i didn’t believe it, my self esteem was so shattered that i questioned if i were attractive. A few of the guys in my Drama class would ask me out and try to pursue me but, i was shy, i thought i had wanted the attention but when i received it i would clam up, i was not ready for that type energy yet.
Going into high school i still had the mindset that because i was still plus size i wouldn’t be able to attract the high school guys. I also noticed that the girls with a lighter skin complexion received more attention from the boys. I didn’t understand why this was. I figured a girl is a girl, we all have the same thing at the end of the day. but that’s just how it was, and continue to be. High school for me was the big time! sink or swim, high school was a whole different ball game. I knew that i was a “attractive dark skinned” girl, i knew that i had a great personality but i was too shy to be myself, and too quiet to get noticed. I felt like there was always competition between the girls at my high school.
Who had the best hair style, who wore the latest Jordan’s, who lost their virginity first, it was a freaking mad house. One thing that i can say that i did, i was always myself around my friends. Even though i had gained some confidence with the weight loss, i still thought that i wasn’t good enough, i always felt like maybe if i were skinnier i would have more opportunities, to get noticed, to be popular, to be visible. As high school went on i started to come into self love by encouragement from friends. They let me know that i was cool and that i was beautiful the way i was, that i would be beautiful at any size. My girls Jamie and Tamica would always tell me “If they cant take you for who you are, fuck em”!
My self perception of myself started to change, once i had saw that i wasn’t the only plus size girl at my school, i was relieved. One girl that taught me to embrace myself was Tajma. She was a grade up. We had choir together in junior high and that girl could blow a roof off an house. She had a lighter skin complexion, just gorgeous, and plus size. She would dress to the T’s and her make-up game was unmatched. Not only was she beautiful on the outside, but she was just as beautiful on the inside. I thought to myself “now that is a dope ass girl”. Her walk, the way she made her presence known gave me confidence. She inspired me to showcase my talent, to reveal my full self. I started to dibble and dabble into makeup. I picked colors that would accent my chocolate skin. I stared to wear clothes that didn’t take away from my shapely figure, but enhanced it. The tomboy that i once knew was slowly disappearing. I became a fluttering butterfly, i started to enjoy and love who i was, a cute, chocolate plus size dope ass girl from Richmond.
The older i became, the more comfortable i became within myself. Of course i wasn’t small or petite, but i remained healthy and active. I accepted my wide hips, and thick thighs (i get it from my mamma). My mother would always compliment me, she was noe my personal hype man. I eventually learned to accept my dark skin, i learned the many stories of what dark skin represented, my ancestors, my bloodline, my African roots. I became proud of my skin complexion.
It also helped that i always had friends and people around who didn’t care what i looked like, they pumped me up, they would point out features of mine they wish they had. My personality would, at most times make up for what i thought was flawed. I came to the realization that i had to learn to love me, i had to look in the mirror and find parts of my body that i liked, parts of my body that made me unique. Looking back on old high school photos i wish that i would have enjoyed my shapely figure. I wish that i hadn’t been so self conscious. I learned that i had to love myself fully, in order to be loved by another. It might sound cliche, but it applies. Now, i love every fold, flap, garage door, and muffin top. I no longer seek validation from the opposite sex or anyone. I give myself the validation that i need.
After high school i would loose weight, then gain it, then loose some and gain again, i was a never ending light up YO-YO. I have tried all diets, weight loss programs, fasting, not eating at all. But no matter what i try my structure has never been, or will ever be thin. I noticed that whenever i had weight loss my frame stayed the same, my body just became leaner. I would still have the full hips, large thighs, voluptuous breasts. There was no escaping my genetic make-up. Aside from debilitating migraines, i am relatively healthy, that matters.
I always thought that i wouldn’t be able to attract the opposite sex because of my size and skin complexion . As a teen I was always the “fat dark one” of the group, so i would go unnoticed, that made me feel unwanted and totally invisible. Some men can be just as shallow as women. I don’t have the body like like many female celebrities. Compare me to Sara Bartman, my sista who was naturally bred. My skin is not light, and Hey that’s Okay!. It doesn’t take away from who i am as a person, It doesn’t take away from my education, knowledge, skills, or independence,If anything My dark assists me makes me stand out. I’m damn proud of that.
Are men really intimidated by a woman’s size? or is it their own insecurity? Does he think he could handle her? Does it matter that her body is naturally curvy? Does it matter that she has a muffin top and some love handles? Do men think that all women should be built from the ground up like female Hollywood celebs? or any other woman who has been surgically enhanced? nah, and a disclaimer, i’m not in anyway am i against surgery, or getting enhancements, but personally it’s not right for me. I refuse to fit in, to indulge in surgical fads because celebrities engage in it. I figure, if i don’t fit into society’s “box” then i can bedazzle one for myself. Men who cannot accept a big, sexy, curvaceous, confident , smart, and witty woman, Well! They don’t deserve to reap the benefits that us “big women” can provide. Not just the physical part of us, but the mental.
We will not settle!
As you get older things start to sag to the ground, your metabolism slows down, you put on a little more extra pounds due to having children or leading a hectic life. Sometimes life is moving so fast that you don’t have time to go to the gym, cook a nutritious healthy meal or plan. You pick up that doughnut because you’re on the go, or you stop by your favorite fast food place for dinner because it was along day and your not in the mood to cook for yourself or the family. And let’s face it, at times it’s just pure laziness. It is possible to be plus size while you practice healthy eating habits and participate in daily physical activities (Yoga, Walk, Gym). A woman who is plus size can be completely healthy.
For any woman who has experienced society’s idea of what “beauty” is i say to you, Queen you are the epitome of femininity, power, and grace. You are desirable, and wanted, YOU ARE WORTHWHILE!!! When society states you are are not desirable, i am here to tell you, THAT’S A LIE! Society is what we make it. Embrace your body, treat it with care, be kind to it. YOU.ARE.BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!
Self love and self-care, is how i continue, and will continue to get through my plus size life.
Like This post? Can you relate in any way? Have you had Challenges with self-esteem or body image?
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“You can’t hate yourself happy. You can’t criticize yourself thin. You can’t shame yourself worthy. Real change begins with self-love and self-care.” — Jessica Ortner
Aye Yo!!! Play that “Masterpiece” by Jazmine Sullivan!