My Big 'Fat' Scarlet Letter

My Big 'Fat' Scarlet Letter

"F" is for "fat."
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My sophomore year of high school, we read "The Scarlet Letter." Our extra credit project was to make a letter (similar to Hester Prynne's "A") for ourselves to wear, and to explain why we chose the letter we did.

If I remember correctly, I chose "H" for "hypocrite." At the time I had a theory that everyone, at some time or other, can be a bit of a hypocrite—usually due to the blinders of things we are passionate about—but that is beside the point.

If I was being honest, I would have chosen "F" for "Fat." Back then, that was how I saw myself—how I defined myself—and how I was sure others defined me. I can remember so clearly the things people said and did to me because I was "fat."

I can remember crying and hating myself and wanting to die because I just couldn't stand it. I always lied about my weight to anyone who asked. I alternated between purging and starving myself—then hating myself even more when I inevitably went back to a normal diet.

I remember having unrealistic and unhealthy weight goals. I remember people telling me they were unrealistic and getting offended or taking it as a challenge.

I remember always getting my clothes in sizes too big because I was so sure nothing would fit, and making the transition to baggier clothing to hide how fat I was.

I remember my mom and my friends' moms telling us not to take our young metabolisms for granted and cringing at the thought that adult me would be even fatter.

Now, 50 pounds or so later, I often look back and wish I was still that "small."

The thing about other people's opinions is that they can become your blinders.They can morph your perception of yourself to the point where it is so distorted that you can't see yourself clearly. There comes a point where you only see what you think they see, and you hate it. At least, that's how it was for me.

I let other people's opinions matter to me so much that, not only did I believe the untrue things they were saying (because when you're 5'10", it's perfectly normal to be a size nine), I took them to a whole new extreme. The more I believed what others said and the worse I treated myself as a result, the worse they treated me.

I think it's such a shame to live in the past like that. America is a country built on nostalgia, but that doesn't mean we should wallow in our regrets. I don't want to look back in a few years and wish that I had this body back. I want to be happy with myself in the "here and now."

Every day is not perfect. We're all going to struggle with whatever our blinders may be. But it's so much nicer, so much better if we love ourselves now—if we have good times in the present and make good memories for the future. Don't let your blinders get the best of you. Be optimistic—love your body for what it can do, instead of what you feel it cannot.

Remember that you were not put here to have the best body. Remember that you are not alone—sadly, most people feel this way at some time or other.

Only when you love yourself—"fat" and all—can you really live life to the fullest.

Cover Image Credit: Delta Delta Delta

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10 Things I Threw Out AFTER Freshman Year Of College

Guess half the stuff on your packing list doesn't really matter
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I spent the entire summer before my freshman year of college so WORRIED.

I also spent most of my money that summer on miscellaneous dorm stuff. I packed the car when the time finally came to move in, and spent the drive up excited and confused about what the heck was actually going on.

Freshman year came and went, and as I get ready to go back to school in just a few short weeks (!!), I'm starting to realize there's just a whole bunch of crap I just don't need.

After freshman year, I threw out:

1. Half my wardrobe.

I don't really know what I was thinking of owning 13 sweaters and 25 T-shirts in the first place. I wear the same five T-shirts until I magically find a new one that I probably got for free, and I put on jeans maybe four times. One pair is enough.

2. Half my makeup.

Following in the theme of #1, if I put on makeup, it's the same eyeliner-mascara combination as always. Sometimes I spice it up and add lipstick or eyeshadow.

3. My vacuum.

https://secure.img1-ag.wfcdn.com/im/d5ea3c03/resize-h2000-p1-w2000%5Ecompr-r85/3021/30217778/Express+6+Volt+Cordless+Bagless+Handheld+Vacuum.jpg

One, I basically never did it. Two, if I REALLY needed to vacuum, dorms rent out cleaning supplies.

4. Most of my photos from high school.

I didn't throw them ALL away, but most of them won't be making a return to college. Things change, people change, your friends change. And that's okay.

5. Excess school supplies.

Binders are heavy and I am lazy. I surprisingly didn't lose that many pens, so I don't need the fifty pack anymore. I could probably do without the crayons.

6. Cups/Plates/Bowls/Silverware.

Again, I am lazy. I cannot be bothered to wash dishes that often. I'll stick to water bottles and maybe one coffee cup. Paper plates/bowls can always be bought, and plastic silverware can always be stolen from different places on campus.

7. Books.

I love to read, but I really don't understand why I thought I'd have the time to actually do it. I think I read one book all year, and that's just a maybe.

8. A sewing kit.

I don't even know how to sew.

9. Excessive decorations.

It's nice to make your space feel a little more cozy, but not every inch of the wall needs to be covered.

10. Throw pillows.

At night, these cute little pillows just got tossed to the floor, and they'd sit there for days if I didn't make my bed.

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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I Channeled My Insecurities Into My Painting Final, A Series About Body Image

I haven't felt so proud and connected to something I've made in a really long time.

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I've written about my struggle to stay fit in college. Despite my best efforts, which I'll admit at times we're just mediocre efforts, there were still those inevitable pounds I gained when I moved away to live at college. The first semester hit hard with all the eating out, drinking, and even all you can eat dining halls. I didn't realize what an impact it was making on my body and therefore my self-esteem. I've always had a really great relationship with my body, food, and health. But by the time I came home for winter break, that confidence started to waver.

Going into the second semester I set my mind to change this, and going into summer I am definitely happier with where I'm at. As the end of the semester approached, I had to do a huge painting series for my final project, that was not only touching on what I'd learned in my first year of painting but the direction I want to go as an artist. I had been struggling to think of a way to incorporate all my thoughts and feelings into the series while finding a theme that I cared about and related to.

After weeks of thinking about it, I realized the concept wasn't going to be something I dreamed up one day, but a part of my life that I had to pour into these paintings. I wanted to channel these thoughts about body image and self-confidence or lack thereof into my work.

The series depicts a girl pensively looking in the mirror, both in baggy clothing and a little black dress, with a second figure looking over her shoulder, representing her subconscious. I spent more time in the studio than ever before working on these, not only because I was driven to make my work look great from a technical standpoint, but it was a topic I was passionate about. I used some reference photos of my friend for the pieces, but really it is more of a self-portrait.

Channeling these insecurities into my painting made me realize that we care so much about our bodies and working out for all the wrong reasons. Staying healthy is so important, but it's not so much about the number on the scale. It took going through these changes with my body to realize that you have to exercise to feel good and happy, and the results will come after that. I haven't felt in such a good place with my body in a while, and I also haven't felt so proud and connected to something I've made in a really long time, both of which I attribute to hard work paying off.

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