For as long as I can remember, I've been bigger than the other kids around me. I was taller than most of the boys in my sixth grade math class and I wore a bigger size than most of the girls in my high school. I would never say that I'm fat, I'm just bigger than most of the people around me.
Growing up in a world that hates big girls was not an easy battle. I constantly worried about whether or not I would ever go on a date or even get married. I developed this idea that if the popular girls didn't want to be friends with me, it was because I was plus-sized. I would go shopping for dances like homecoming and prom, and just remember crying in dressing room after dressing room because the dress that I'd fallen in love with on the rack didn't come in my size.
By the time I started high school, I had become accustomed to hiding my body in sweatpants and baggy shirts, to hide the size of my stomach or the extra weight on my legs. I was hiding myself from the world because I thought the world would never accept me for what I was.
I tried for years to lose the weight. I would work three times as hard as other people at the gym or in a workout class, because I was so determined to change my appearance. My face would get so red that the instructor would pull me aside and ask if I was alright because it looked like I was going to pass out. I avoided meal after meal, but then would stuff my face later because I'd been starving myself. I researched diet after diet, circuit after circuit, supplement after supplement, and even looked into what it would be like to have gastric bypass surgery, convinced that it would have been easier and faster than working out and changing my diet.
Nothing worked. People would tell me that I was beautiful no matter what but, I never believed them. I figured they looked at me and felt bad for me because of how I looked, and they said those things to me out of pity. I began to isolate myself from my peers, hiding in my room reading books or watching Youtube videos on my Grandma's laptop. I didn't like to move around during class because I would have to squeeze my body between in the desks in a classroom. I didn't shift my position in my chair because it would creak under me. I was scared to go outside because I had this unbelievable fear that my weight would destroy me.
As I got involved with social media in high school, I would see other beautiful women who embraced their size and even had careers because of it. I wondered why they could love themselves, yet I still couldn't. So, I stopped trying to change and tried being myself for the first time. I met girls in my new high school who didn't constantly worry about how they looked or how many likes they got on their Instagram posts, girls who just wanted to have fun and enjoy their lives.
I went out to the things that I wanted to, and didn't constantly worry about people staring at me because I was bigger. I discovered the amazing world of plus-size fashion, and traded my baggy clothes for jeans, leggings and even tube tops. I grew to know my own beauty and love my body. It's the only one I'm going to get, so what's the point of continuing to reject myself?
Now, all of this is not me saying that being overweight or even obese is alright, because it's not and it plagues many people all over the world. Honestly, I am not the most physically healthy right now. I am aware of the choices I make when it comes to my level of fitness, but it's not taking over my life. I am not constantly aware of what I look like, which is odd because it seems like the rest of the world is.
There have always been people in my life who would say I was beautiful, and then the infamous "but" would follow. I didn't really pay attention to it at first, but overtime, I started to notice it more wherever I was. Whenever I would eat something, it was always, "are you sure you want to eat all that?" When I bought my first bikini suit, it was, "you don't have the body type for that. You should cover up."
I knew that the people that said stuff like this only wanted what was best for me, but I don't think they realized how much it was actually tearing me down. It made me more self-conscious, and made me feel like there were voices in my head constantly tearing me down. Throughout my entire teenage life, these voices had manifested into people I would trust with my life.
Sometimes people I didn't even know thought that I needed to hear their opinions on my life style. Sometimes, it wasn't even my life. It was comments I would see on other girl's posts, people that were influencers for other girls like me out there. People who just had to give their thoughts about this amazing human being who was living their life and loving themselves.
It all goes over like it's nothing though. If this had been someone criticizing the color of the person's skin or anything like that, there would be outrage throughout the comments and it would be so offensive and so awful that no one would be able to take it. As soon as someone says something about how "big" the person is or how they "shouldn't wear that" because of how they look, it gets lost the comments.
There are the positives though. People are beginning to accept the big girls. They are beginning to let them be happy, because these amazing, strong women are saying that they don't care what people say. They are beautiful because they are true. They're not bending the ways they live just to be accepted.
Those waves of comments that I mentioned earlier, they're starting to get outnumbered by words of friendship, love, and acceptance. The world is changing, I know that. These people, the one's who let self-love live, they're the reason I have hope for this world.