I’m not sure when it began but for most of my life I have felt out of place. In middle school, I was the girl with big boobs and in high school I became the fat girl. This “fat girl” identity is one that stuck with me through college and in all honesty has never really gone away. I was super self conscious about how I looked and it guided everything I did. I avoided dance classes, only owned one piece bathing suites, and only wore vertical stripes. I learned to hate myself because society told me I was lazy, worthless and less than my thin counter parts.
During my second semester of graduate school I reached my lowest point with my depression. I hated myself for existing, angry that I had put on more weight even though I was eating healthier than I had ever eaten and was doing five hours of exercise a day. During this time a girl from an LGBT group I was involved in invited me to join a group of local plus size women. At first I was angry that someone would bring up that I was fat, yes a size 18 is plus size but we didn’t need to talk about it did we? Nevertheless, I decided to give it a try.
First I became active online and eventually began to brunch and actually meet these girls. For the first time in my life I learned about the body positive movement. I met a yoga teacher who was working to make exercise more inclusive to people of all sizes and a nutritionist who wasn’t a size two. I realized it’s okay to not be perfect and I didn’t have to hate my body but the real thing the body positive movement taught me was how to take care of myself. Before meeting these ladies, I thought body positivity meant not caring what others think, eating all the cake you wanted and ignoring the health risks of obesity. What I really learned was body positivity is about caring for yourself in all aspects of your life. It’s okay to have a piece of cake after dinner but it’s also okay to dance and put on make up and go to the beach in a bikini. Body positivity is about learning to love yourself and being who you are meant to be in spite of your t-shirt size. I realized that just because I take up space physically there was no reason to try and fade into the background. Being more body positive taught me to be okay with the word FAT. FAT is not a swear word it’s just an adjective, a part of my identity that in no way defines who I am any more than having brown hair. I am fat but I am also a warm, fun, and adorable person if I do say so myself.