TSHENELLO

Let me start by mentioning that I have always been a big girl, so I wouldn’t know the first thing about being thin or small. However, when it look at most of my friends who are significantly thinner than I am, the thought that life just might be a bit brighter if I were smaller starts echoing in my head…

For years, I’d been made fun of because I was big. In primary school, a boy would constantly make fun of me and the one time I told my teacher about this and she said that I should just ignore him and find something about him to laugh back at. I never had it in me to do it so I resorted to tolerating the bullying and crying my frustrations out when I got home.

In high school, boys didn’t even look twice at me! Sure, they thought my personality was awesome, but I still found it difficult being “girlfriend material” because I was big. I remember one guy I had a crush on specifically said to his friends that he would NEVER date me because I don’t “measure up” to his standards. It hurt, but I find comfort now in knowing that he’s now bigger than I am, and still single (cue evil laugh).

All in all, I hated my body for years. Magazines, TV shows, movies and general conversations with friends have shown me just how much work I need to put in to meeting the criteria when it comes to beauty. My Mom tried to encourage me to be thin by comparing me to my friends or saying, “Remember, you are what you eat!” whenever I made myself something to eat… I didn’t like myself very much, and it showed in the way I spoke, the way I dressed and sometimes in the way I compensated for my “lack of beauty” through academics. No matter how high my grades were, I still had to face the constant criticism and ridicule for being me.

There was one moment wherein I was sitting on the floor, finding comfort in a bowl of ice cream after a really bad day. I felt depressed because I took a good, hard look at my body in the mirror and immediately felt ugly. I cried myself to sleep that night, I remember. I called one of my friends to vent and she said the same thing any “good” friend would say,

“Lee, you’re being ridiculous! You’re the most beautiful friend  I have. If only you could see yourself through my eyes…”

It’s interesting how society thinks big girls are sad people with no lives. I met a guy the other day who was surprised at my bubbly personality. In what seemed to be honesty, he said, “I thought you’d describe yourself as a quiet girl, not very active,  with few friends and not many hobbies on the list. You’re something else!” I took offense to that, but at the same time I was grateful to him for helping me realize that it isn’t my body that makes me phenomenal, and it shouldn’t stop me from doing what I want to. I had a miraculous change of mindset from that day onwards, and I’m still working on not looking back.

See, I love hiking! It’s something I used to hate when I was younger, and now I can’t wait to take a selfie at the peak of a hill or mountain when I hike! Society has categorized me as “unfit” because my BMI is a bit higher than it should be. The world has told me that I can never be good enough because my weight scale squeaks a bit when I hop onto it. When wooden stairs creek with every step, people immediately turn to flash a frown at me. Hiking has helped me realize just how much of a champion I am now matter how big I get.

Looking down at the world that has criticized me for my size from the mountain top gives me a feeling that I cannot describe. Every day, when I look in the mirror, I think of myself on the mountain top and immediately my insecurities take a bow and leave because I feel amazing. It’s easier to love myself now, irrespective of how evident my flaws are.

I personally believe that the love I have for myself shows in the way I live now, and that it is what makes me beautiful…

TSHENELLO

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