Ever since I was a little girl, starting sometime during my elementary school days, I have struggled with my weight. I never worn a bikini, even to tan in my own backyard where no one could see me. I memorized every diet and exercise trick the Internet could provide. I spent endless nights dreaming of having a figure that was simply never meant for me.
By the time I entered in middle school, I truly despised my body. I wore the same navy blue sweatshirt and pair of dark jeans every day because they felt like the only garments that hid by belly rolls. In the end, however, it didn’t matter what I was wearing or how much I was eating; I felt fatter by the day.
The next four years of high school were similar. Although I swapped the baggy hoodie for a cute cardigan, I still like a tub of lard at all times. By this point I realized no matter how many new diets or workout routines I tried, I would never look the way I wanted.
Then before I knew it, I was kissing my life at home goodbye. As I left for college, I told myself that no matter what was being served in the dining hall, I was going to be extremely careful with the amount of calories I was consuming. I should’ve been concerned with making new friends or finding my way around campus, but my worst fear for college was gaining the “freshman 15.” I did well for the first semester, keeping an eye on what I was eating and how much I was exercising. But when I came back for the second semester my schedule got busier and I just lost track. I put my grades and social life first, and my obsession with beauty second.
I thought doing this would make me more hideous than I already was (as if that was even possible). I thought it would completely destroy me. I thought it would be the sole thing that prevented me from being happy.
Fortunately, I was wrong.
To my surprise, since I’ve been in college, I have gained a tremendous amount of self-confidence. Of course I weigh more and look bigger than I was in high school, but it doesn’t matter because this is the most comfortable I have ever been with my body.
It’s not the extra weight that makes me more confident, but the fact that I’ve accepted that this is the skin I’m in. Something that I once thought was ugly is now beautiful. I am beautiful.
Learning to love myself and my body has been a long journey. Honestly, I never thought I would see the day where I could look in the mirror and accept the flaws that used to hold me back. The day where I could smile at the person I have become instead of frown at the person I yearned to be. But today, and every day going forward, is that day.
So to all the teenage girls out there hiding their curves underneath layers of baggy clothes: although it may not be right now, someday you will look in the mirror and realize how beautiful you are. Self-confidence will not come from diets. Self-love will not come from wanting to be like other people instead of learning who you are as a person. It will be a long journey for you too, but once you reach the end, you will never look back.