How Growing Up As The "Fat Kid" Affected My Body-Image For Life
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Health and Wellness

How Growing Up As The "Fat Kid" Affected My Body-Image For Life

"Girls like you don't wear things like that"

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How Growing Up As The "Fat Kid" Affected My Body-Image For Life

Content warning: eating disorders & dieting. Treatment for eating disorders usually involves a combination of therapy, nutrition education, medication, and sometimes hospitalization. You can call The National Eating Disorders Association at 1-800-931-2237 or chat online for support and to learn about treatment options.

Looking down at a big belly as a small child meant nothing to me. That was my body. I didn't really have a concept of "fat" or "skinny" or if one was "better" than the other. I had no insecurities and I felt happy with my body and my life. That was until I was taught how to feel.

One of my earliest memories of this was when I was in about 2nd grade and was given hand-me-downs from an older - and much skinnier - cousin. In this pile of clothes was a super-cool bikini with pink skulls and cross-bones. I showed my mom and told her how excited I was to wear it, to which she replied,

"Girls like you don't wear things like that,"

and she promptly threw it away. Clearly, that really stuck with me, as I can still remember the exact moment more than ten years later. Time went on and I started to realize that I didn't look like the other kids around me. They could run, jump, and climb with ease, meanwhile too much movement caused me an instant asthma attack. Kids would poke and hit my stomach with awe and disgust, while I laughed and pretended I was in on the joke.

Going to the doctor's was a nightmare. When I was weighed, the numbers initially meant nothing to me, but that was before I was told I needed to eat less and join Girls On The Run. As an elementary school kid, I became obsessed with Wii Fit and became hyper-aware of how clothes fit me.

I learned to hold in my stomach and eat sweets in secret.

Middle-school only amplified these feelings. I taught myself to never eat in front of others and to distract from the way I looked with humor and a loud, outgoing personality. What nobody knew was that in the back of my mind, I was always aware of how my body looked. I began wearing the same baggy sweatshirt every day hoping nobody would notice.

9th grade is when I took my weight into my own hands and forced myself to eat only 500 calories a day. My body image was so distorted that I thought I was the fattest, unhealthiest person in the world. In reality, I had really just grown into my body, and I was at a very average weight. Nonetheless, I changed into a disciplined, hungry, and frankly, irritable version of myself. I ended up losing 20 pounds very quickly and my body looked skeletal and diseased. I could fit into my younger brother's skinny jeans.

I hit a breaking point when I realized that no matter how thin I became, I would never be happy with myself.

I forced myself to take a look at who I had become and make a change. I learned about the body-positive movement and took steps to gain the weight back healthily. I went vegan to help me control what I ate, but not feel guilty when I did want to splurge.

Alls well that ends well, right?

Well, not entirely.

Throughout the rest of high school, my weight fluctuated like a pendulum. I began using eating as an emotional crutch but would start to feel guilty after eating large amounts. I would then force myself to fast or "purge" myself of food, which would eventually make me super hungry leading me to eat large amounts again.

The rules I gave myself freshman year never really left my subconscious, and deep down I still felt I needed to follow them.

I knew that being fat wasn't a bad thing and I preached body-positivity loudly and confidently. But when it came to my own body, I felt a different set of rules applied. When I felt that aching hunger in my stomach, I felt good about myself. When I refrained from eating past 8 pm, I felt accomplished. And when I finished a meal or indulged in sweets, I felt frustrated and angry with myself. I was making progress, but a voice in my head still upheld the disordered thoughts in my head.

I'm at a place now where I let myself eat when I want. I do my best to shut that gnawing voice in my head up and appreciate my body for all it gives to me. I find I'm still hyper-aware of how my body looks or how clothes fall off of me, but I've learned to accept myself much more.

Progress is not linear, and I am still learning to accept my body more and more every day.

I'm thankful for the supportive people in my life that have helped me through my body-image struggles, and I urge you to reach out if you're feeling stuck like I was.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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