According to my mother, the first full sentence I ever uttered was, “I’m a big girl” -- pretty much due to this being the most common observation spoken around me.
I do not recall a time in my childhood where I didn’t feel bigger than average or where I wasn’t painfully aware of my size compared to the kids my age. I played Chewbacca in our elementary rounds of “Star Wars” because I was too tall to be Leia, I was mistaken for a student teacher in the 6th grade, and I was saddled with the nickname “Sasquatch” by the small, mean boys around me.
At a very young age, I knew I was gargantuan and it was a horrifying realization to make.
When I looked in the mirror, I liked my face just fine, but I ferociously hated my body. It betrayed me with flabby arms, a midsection that seemed endless in all directions, and the thick calves and ankles of a grown man. I decided the best thing I could do was hide. I enveloped myself in XXL t-shirts and oversized men’s clothes. I hoped the larger the pants I wore, the smaller I might appear. I wore long shirts and even longer hair as inscrutable layers of protection. When a boy told me my Senior year of high school that he thought I was gorgeous, I laughed off his compliment as a terrifying joke. My panicked mind went into overdrive: Why would he tease me like that? Why is he lying to me? Is this a trick?
Then I got to college and something interesting happened. Through a combination of movement classes three times a week and a general avoidance of eating meat in the dining hall, I found myself in fairly good health and shape. Instead of gaining the infamous “Freshman 15”, I ended up losing about 20 pounds. I no longer shied away from my entire reflection. I still considered myself big, but it was the best big I had ever been.
Written by the fabulous Tomiko for Curves with Purpose. Stay tuned for Act II & Act III.