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Finally, I Love My Body.
Most people will agree that the largest influences on a young girl’s image are the advertisements they see from the fashion and makeup industries. But for me it was never that.
Like a lot of girls I started to find fault with my body at a young age. I remember going to swimming lessons and not wanting to go into the pool with others because there was a pocket of fat where my arm connected to my torso. I remember the feeling I had when I found out that between my two sisters and me, I was the only one not allowed to buy ice cream at lunch.
I remember all this and more, and not once do I remember it being because of big industries.
It was because of my mother.
As long as I can remember my mother has been very health conscious. She’s also an extremely thin woman who refuses to disclose her weight. We’re the same height but if I had to guess I would say I have at least twenty pounds on her. And I’m only 5’4” and weigh 129 lbs.
The snacks I’ve grown up on were salt free or low salt pretzels, in a household devoid of soda and chips. It has only been in the past few years that these things have started to make there way into my house (although still no chips). As I grew up I was constantly pressured to “eat better” and be more active. I never played a sport until seventh grade.
Around fifth grade was when I started dieting. These never lasted for more than a day or two because I wouldn’t be able to stick to the low calorie amount I had given myself. I liked eating, so why shouldn’t I be allowed to?
I would spend countless hours online searching how to lose weight and what the best workouts were. With this knowledge I would change into shorts and a tee shirt and do jumping jacks and crunches in my bedroom when no one was home, or when I thought they couldn’t hear me jump.
I kept food journals too. Mostly these consisted of what I wished I had eaten, but my actual consumption never matched my dream one.
I didn’t diet every single week. Rather these attempts would start with a comment. I would eat an extra helping or maybe eat three cookies and my mother would look at me and say something along the lines of “is that really a good idea?”
These comments made me feel horrible about myself. They made me feel like I was worthless and that I had to be skinny to gain the approval of my mother.
Eventually I grew out of it. As seventh grade rolled around I started to realize that I would never gain the approval of my mother. No matter how many times I attempted to change I would fail, but I shouldn’t have needed to change in the first place. I stopped trying to lose weight, and I started to look in the mirror and realize that there was nothing wrong with whom I was.
The downside to this is that I don’t have a very good relationship with my mother. Even today she still gives of comments without care for how they’re perceived. When I try to explain to my mom that my eleven year old self heard “You’re fat” whenever she commented on my lifestyle she denies ever saying it.
“I never said you did, but that’s what I heard mom,” Yet, she still doesn’t see.
I outgrew my self-hate, but sometimes the comments still get to me. I don’t ever let them influence how I eat though, because it’s my choice - not hers. Besides I eat fairly healthy, play two sports, ski and I lift twice a week at school.
In all honestly this has made me a stronger person. I realized that I shouldn’t ever have to change to gain approval. When I tried to change I became miserable. It was only when I took a step back and stopped trying that I could finally look in the mirror and truly smile.