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.
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As seen here on Odyssey