It's Not You, They're Just A-holes: The Fight Against Body Shaming
I became aware that I was bigger than most girls around the age of 10. We would spend the summer days at the pool, and I remember sticking my butt out as I walked because a friend said “it makes your belly look smaller”. A few minutes later my Mom was asking me what the hell I was doing as I am sure I looked absolutely ridiculous. That was the beginning of my body issues and by the time I was 13 I was wearing JNCO jeans and sweaters in the middle of summer to hide from the world.
This was me at 14. This is what I would wear every day. I still have this Blink-182 Hoodie. Its 20 years old and I still love it the most.
7th grade wood shop was a nightmare for me. I had to sit at the same table as Shane. He was a total prick and gave me the nickname “Whaley”, which I had endured for the next year or so until it lost its appeal. Honestly, I spent quite some time daydreaming about punching him right in the face. The bullying continued into high school. One girl in high school felt it necessary to tell me I was fat, almost on a daily basis. I imagine she must have lost many hours of sleep over my weight for her to be that concerned. I had the best comeback line for her, “I can always lose weight for free, but it’s going to cost you a lot of money to fix that face”. I never used that line, or punched Shane in the face. It would have felt so good in the moment, but I just kept to myself and patiently waited for the awful years of high school to be over.
This is from 2002, I was 19, about to be 20, but not sure how much I weighed. I had given up on the scale at that point. Yes, that is Joey and yes we were very cool.
Unfortunately, not all of us grow up, and people still feel the need to point out our imperfections. I was walking out of a bowling alley, in my mid 20’s with my son, and some guy yelled “you’re fat” at me as he drives by. Some perfect stranger felt the need to comment on my body, for no reason other than to be an a-hole, because it’s not you, it’s them. It took me many years to realize that. I spent years starving myself, then bingeing because I was starving. I spent years waking up early in the morning to go running, going to the gym, taking diet pills, drinking nothing but diet drinks and hating myself because I wasn’t seeing results. I didn’t have an understanding of what that took to successfully lose weight. I didn’t realize it took more than a magic pill, so I tried anything and everything for most of my life. Everyone has no problem telling you that you have to lose weight, but they only offer short cuts. Short terms solutions with no sustainability. It's a set up for failure.
This was in my early 20’s. One of the few pictures of me from the waist up that I still have because I liked the way my bag helped me look thin. This was around the time that I was also using diet pills. A co-worker told me they made me act like I was on speed all day. Of course they didn’t work.
I am going to be 35 years old this year. I have spent the past 2 years of my life working on my health and wellness. I started with CrossFit in July 2014. I walked into that building 250 pounds, defeated and terrified. In the next year I lost about 50 pounds, and hit a plateau. My coaches started encouraging me to incorporate some healthier nutrition guidelines and I began practicing yoga and meditation to help with stress. I lost another 25 pounds over the next year. So here I am, a total of 75 pounds lost. I went from a size 22-24 to a size 10-12. That is right! I walked into an Old Navy on Tuesday and put a pair of size 10 shorts on, and they fit like a “snug” glove, haha. Luckily, I haven't had too many negative comments about my body or weight on my journey, but I see it all the time. There is a lot of talk about lose skin, and how people should go under the knife and have it removed! I wouldn't take the risk of complications just to have a couple inches of lose skin taken off my body. That is a personal decision, and shouldn't be a public debate.
Here is a piece of advice for those who feel the need to call people out on their weight/bodies. Don’t be a huge D. Just don’t do it. If you are that much of a concerned citizen, then go get your degree in exercise science and help people, not degrade them.
Now for my advice to those who have been in my shoes. Know who you are and what fits your life. There are always going to be a-holes in the world, but it is who you choose to associate yourself with that will determine your successes and failures. Find those who have the same goals in mind and who will build you up. Realize that you are way more than your body shape. Work hard, eat right and be compassionate with yourself. Transformation takes time, especially transformation of the mind. Also, stick up for yourself. Don’t let others take your accomplishments away.
I don’t have an athletic bone in my body. I never played sports and I spent most of my life destroying my body. I smoked cigarettes for 16 + years and did my fair share of partying. I had two amazing little guys via C-sections, so my lower abdomen is never going to be pretty again. I have lots of stretch marks, and I don’t give a shit about that…because:
I can run. I hate running, but I can run carrying 40 pounds on my shoulders. I also wear shorts now, because it is frickin hot in Texas, and I don’t care if you hate my cellulite.
I can lift more than some of your boyfriends can.
AND, no one can take the hard work and dedication that I put into every area of my life, away from me. So, F them if they try.
Hopefully, no one has to experience this. I am truly hoping that any young girls who are dealing with body issues of all sizes (bigger and small) know that they can be themselves and they don’t have to worry about the bullies and critics. They go on to live their life and probably forget about you. Hopefully they learn from their actions and have remorse, but chances are Shane probably doesn’t even remember who I am. Don’t hide in a sweater in the middle of summer. Instead find someone else who is literally sweating to death and take your sweaters off together. Keep your shirts on, but take off the sweaters. I don’t have many pictures of myself from high school, but I have a lot from after high school, when I could breathe a little and be myself and found a great group of people to surround myself with. It made the a-holes more bearable.
I put myself out there because I have a story to share, and I am hoping it can help others. I don’t put myself out there to get ridiculed just for someone to make themselves feel, what, better than someone else? No f-in way. The only person you should be competing with (in life) is yourself. I am still a work in progress, and I don’t have room for that shit in my life.
So here I am today. No make-up, in regular clothes. T-shirts to hide my offensive arm jiggle (Relax, I kid, I kid). I am always working to better myself, and of course I would have an awesome affirmation journal with a unicorn on the cover, because it makes me happy.
Until next time!
Life Worth Living
Yoga Teacher/Lifestyle Coach