I know it seems irrational: to become hypnotized to the scale and hellbent to achieve a certain number; to become so overwhelmed you starve your body and consciously suck in your stomach in public until it becomes second thought, a habit, than a reminder. It's the world so many of us live in today with America's rising child obesity rates; growing up, I only added to that growing percentage. In fact, I'm still apart of it.
In third grade, I touched 120 pounds but I thought it was still okay; I was "only a little chubby," according to my mother but I didn't feel that I stuck out. It wasn't until fourth and fifth grade where my weight rose exponentially, touching the 140s and 150s, that I chose to hide under my big clothing and long hair because I was so embarrassed of myself. I vividly remember my sister trying to help me: she'd make "diet plans" but I'd always deviate, becoming angry at myself later. It was then where I crossed the line from being "big" to "obese" and the terms used to describe me were no longer sprinkled in sugar but doused in the hard truth. I was picked on a lot and everyday I'd try to repress their words coming off the bus.
Most of all, I remember it simply being so rough, especially in the finding-friends department.
Personally, I do believe that first impressions matter, and growing up, I was witness to this as I was surrounded by "like" finding "like" friends. If you're attractive, you'll naturally fall into that one popular group of kids as equally attractive. If you're athletic, you'll navigate to find friends who enjoy playing sports just as much as you. If you're creative, you'll be in the sandpit or on the bench drawing with the rest of the open- minded kids. A reader would skip recess and be under a tree with their nose in a book. Everyone seemingly fit somewhere; amiss the chaos and roar of the playground lied a strategic division.
I could never shake that my first impression, my categorization, was my weight. When someone saw me, they would first think I'm fat and I'd be automatically rejected. When I did finally find my group of friends, I couldn't believe they loved me even though I was fat, which sounds so wrong thinking back now. It was their support that really helped me through hard days.
By middle school, though I grew a few inches, my weight only grew with it. I was now touching the 160s and 170s, my clothes became bigger and I began experimenting with makeup. I thought for a really long time that if I wore mascara to highlight my eyes, people would see them first over my body. I made new friends and kept in contact with my old ones. Seventh grade, I met a girl in my language arts class who would later become my best friend; it was seventh grade where I stopped thinking about how I looked/ how others perceived me and began thinking about who I wanted to be. In that moment, I wanted to be a best friend, a kind person to rely on and my best self. In that moment, I remember just being so happy.
I realized that in order to love my life, I had to learn to love myself too. I did research on body types and the effect of exercise on the body and how it could affect me, realizing that my obsession to how small my thighs are is nothing but unhealthy. I found that I fit into the endomorph/mesomorph category, meaning my body both tends to store fat and easily build muscle (which weighs more than fat! ) against an ectomorph, whose high metabolism causes their body to be on the skinner side. Ectomorph body shapes are most common in Caucasian and Asian descent, the ethnic majorities of where I grew up.
With the support of my friends and getting to realize that it's not all me, but partially my genetics, that causes my weight gain, I no longer choose to describe myself or care about others describing me as being "overweight", "obese", "fat" or "chubby". I choose to steer my life in the direction I choose to sail: I want to be athletic so I choose play basketball and soccer; I want to be creative so I choose to draw and write poetry and I choose to be just as knowledgable as all those kids who read their hearts out on the playground.
Most of all, I choose to be happy with my life, where I'm leading it, and who I see reflected back on that mirror.
No matter how big the number is on the scale.