Growing up larger than your classmates would give most kids trouble. I was no exception to this and the fact that we moved around every few years didn't exactly help. That support group of peers that kids build up to combat the bullying didn't apply to me. I didn't have time to have one before we moved again. I was teased, made to feel awful for a body that as a child I didn't understand or want. I was depressed for a good chunk of my childhood and took some pretty drastic measures to deal with what I was feeling.
All because of my size.
Think about that for a moment. Its a body. That's all it is. Its mine and I've made the choices that led to the number on the scale. But that number and my size meant so much to the people around me growing up. I was miserable for a lot of years, hating school and everyone in it because when I went to ask for help I was told to lose weight. As if that would magically solve the problem. But as a child your eating habits are built when you are under ten years old and like most habits it takes a lot to break them. Some people claim that food and sugar can be addicting. I believe that and also that having a family that provides a child with the means to feed that addiction every single day is not helpful or healthy. Especially not when their self esteem is further broken down by a parent that provides cookies in the morning but then talks about how fat the child is that afternoon.
I hated myself for far too many years and my grades and self esteem suffered for it. It takes a lot for me to let people in because I had friends turn on me for no other reason than that I was bigger than them and they didn't want to be seen with me anymore. I was causing them problems. Well, not me exactly, they'd say. It was my weight. If I just lost a bit of it things would be fine. We could go out again. We could go have fun. Right.
I wrote Loving Her Curves because I wanted to show a plus size woman who didn't have all these issues. She has a great life and loves herself, even down to her stretchmarks. And so do the men in her life. That's right. Men. She has more than one. And they are completely devoted to her. I wanted to show women my size that even in fiction love is possible and it is beautiful and so are they.
If you want to lose weight do it to get healthier. But don't do it because you hate yourself now or because society says anything over a size two is unacceptable. The standards of beauty change all the time and none of this lasts forever. What you can do right now is try to love yourself a little more each day. That is a hard lesson to learn but it is possible.
The first plus sized character I remember reading was one by Sherrilyn Kenyon. It was one of the books in her Dark Hunters series. I remember being amazed at reading about a woman my size finding love. But it wasn't just her size, it was how she felt. I love characters that make no apologies for themselves and that is the kind that I try to write.
Strength is loving who you are, being confident about yourself and having convictions. If you have those three things there's nothing else that is important. Bodies fade, hair falls out and my skin has never been perfect. If I focused on these things I'd never be happy. It took a long time for me to love myself but I'm getting there. I want to get healthier but I focus on the parts of me that I wouldn't change for the world.
I think more plus sized women need to be portrayed in books and media. We're getting there but like every other marginalized group its hard to break ground. The problem with that though is that there is a big chunk of the population that isn't being represented in any way. I see more plus sized people on commercials for weight loss than I do any other time on TV and that's not the right message. The message should be to love yourself. There's far too much depression in this world from everything else going on that hating yourself is simply too much to take on.
You can't escape yourself except in death and I've got to tell you that is an awful realization for a teenage girl to make. The night after homecoming dance I was that girl. I was in therapy after that though it didn't help much.
The turning point for me was when I saw What the Bleep Do We Know? There's a scene in it where the main character is learning about an experiment done on water. Words are pasted onto water and the molecules changed because of them. The beauty in that experiment is that we're largely made up of water and it shows the real images of positive thinking and what negative thoughts can do to a body.
I know what real hate is because I hated myself. Its not about not liking certain music or a particular flavor. Its not wanting that thing to exist in any fashion anymore. Its being willing to take that thing that you hate out of existence. I had a plan and was willing to go through with it. I know what stopped me and I'm grateful for that moment. But it is incredibly hard to come back from that place. Like anything worth having it takes work and sometimes its exhausting just to keep going. I still have depression, I've realized that isn't something that goes away. But how I think about myself does.
I don't hate myself anymore. I love myself. Or at least I find things to love about myself everyday. I love my imagination, my heart, my loyalty to my friends and my drive. I love the extremes that I will go to for the people that I care about and that I am ready to jump in and help when needed. May sound a bit egotistical but if it does that's fine by me. Because its a whole lot better than the little girl crying in her bedroom because she can't stand a single thing about herself. Every little step helps so please, if you find yourself not liking something about yourself focus on the things you do. I have affirmations that I do every morning. I am beautiful. I am smart. I am kind. I am loved. If I have a bad moment in which I'm doubting myself or how I look I go back to that. I say it again and again until I'm able to chase away the doubt and come back to myself. You have a family that needs you, just like I do. No one is expendable.
This post is long and thank you for reading it if you were able to.