As a child, I was never the skinny, pretty, perfect girl. I was never like those petite girls you see on TV, cute and thin. I, however, was on the upper portion of the weight chart. I didn’t realize my body was different until about the third grade when all the other girls ran around in two-piece bathing suits and I was the outsider in a one-piece. I started to run with my dad, but no matter how hard I tried I could never be as skinny as the popular girls. I was sure that if I looked like the perfect girl, my parents would love me more. I had no idea how stupid my thoughts were. I remember going home and crying one day because a group of other kids had called me names such as fatso. As my mom was comforting me, the words she said, although meaningless at the time, are the basis for my beliefs and principles; “You are beautiful because of who you are within. Don’t let anyone else’s standards change you.” I believe that body image does not make me beautiful, but that beauty comes from my ideas and my actions.
The road to my self confidence did not come that very day, however. Over the years those words began to sink in little by little and I began to gain a sense of who I really am. I started to wear less t-shirts and more fitted shirts. I began to be more talkative and learned to step outside of my comfort zone. I was no longer fighting a war with myself to have that ideal stereotypical teenage body. My parents started to notice a change in my confidence and they joined in celebrating the new me. My new found security opened up many doors. I made new friends, some of which I now consider the sisters I never had. They don’t care how much I weigh or how much my waist measures because that isn’t the reason they that are my friends. They like me because of my personality. I no longer let my body identify me.
Every day I went through life viewing images of perfect bodies that I could never have, and I had convinced myself that my body defines me. I wasted plenty of time criticizing the roll on my stomach or my huge thighs. Though my journey to self confidence was difficult and long, I now know that what my mom said to me that day was the turning point in my life. That was the day I started to become the person I am now. I don’t let anyone or anything define me. “Fat” is nothing but a label and it will not change my thoughts or my actions. I am aware that knowing who I truly am is much more rewarding that having the “perfect body”. I will never regain the years I lost worrying about what I looked like, but now I don’t have anything to keep me from continuing the rest of my life with a positive self image. I am beautiful just being myself and I will live my life to the fullest. I am not my body, but I am my actions and my ideas.