At the age of 14, I experienced varying degrees of body changes. My breasts grew much larger than my petite frame, I grew a bit taller, and my skin erupted in cystic acne, accompanied with deeply ingrained scars. Yet, despite all of the changes brought about by good ol’ puberty, I was still significantly underweight.
I was a stick, a rack, a short stumpy pole – but with boobs. It was all very disproportionate. And yes I can hear the drawls – “why wouldn’t you want to be extremely skinny with big knockers?” The answer was quite simple – I didn’t find it attractive. I wanted to be the quintessential African women with big round voluptuous hips, distinguished calves (so my leg didn’t just look like it went straight from thigh to ankle without any shape or form) and of course a healthy weight!
According to the BMI scale, I was underweight and on the verge of being force fed food through a tube stuffed down my throat until I plumped up. You would think the solution was to just eat more right? Incorrect! As I was eating, I was eating all the time. But I wasn’t eating the right foods. Instead I was stuffing myself with over processed meats like bacon, sausages and frozen foods. I barely ate vegetables, instead, I would look at lettuce in despair as its wilted green leaves lay lazily on my plate next to the uneaten tomatoes, olives and cucumbers. I barely touched fruits. I recall eating a handful of grapes once or twice or month and maybe, I mean maybe an apple but nothing more than a sliver – never the whole fruit. Water? Well let’s not start there because I don’t recall ever drinking it unless it was stirred with Oros concentrate. I wasn’t underweight because I had great genes that meant I could “eat whatever I wanted and still stay slim”, I was underweight because my nutritional level was on par with someone in prison for 13 years. I didn’t know much about a balanced diet or exercise, inevitably I ate what was put in front of me and hoped I would just fill into my jeans.
As time went on (around my late teens to be exact) and my metabolism slowed down I would eat takeaways and notice a few lumps and bumps start to form. In the beginning I was ecstatic. I was finally going to have the Beyoncé body I had dreamed about. I still wasn’t eating correctly so a lot of the weight I gained was unhealthy fats, stored in my tummy and hips leaving my legs and arms small but my middle frame curvy and chubby. Granted, I was happier with my new figure than when I was a totem pole but I was still pretty unhealthy – my skin with its abundance of acne, being the greatest witness to this.
Now, in my mid-20’s, I have finally learned how to eat balanced meals with tons of water. I have a bit of belly fat but if I got my lazy butt off the couch it probably wouldn’t be an issue. I have also nearly solved my acne problems, with the help of a dermatologist and a clean diet. Is there anything I would change about my current body? Sure. I would try to eliminate or limit my intake of processed foods; work out regularly; drink more water with lemon; and of course up my fruit and vegetable intake. These are things which everyone can do and I would encourage to try not because you’re unhappy with your body but because it makes you feel so much better – both inside and out.