*Originally posted June 11, 2013*
I have always struggled with my weight. I can remember being 8 years old and in Grade 3 and wanting to go on a diet because I felt absolutely horrible about the way that I looked. I continued to struggle with my weight and self-confidence through the rest of elementary school and high school. Most girls (and boys, too, for that matter) struggle with self-confidence through their high school years, I think. It is hard to feel unpretty, unwanted, and too big to fit in or have a boyfriend. It sucks laying in the sun with your friends in the summer time and not wearing a bikini because you have a round stomach.
“Niki, you weren’t fat in high school. It wasn’t that bad.”
Maybe I wasn’t fat. But I sure felt like I was. I was the only one in my close friend group to wear a size 12/Large, a group of boys came up with a hilarious nickname for me: Shamu, and in Grade 8 when Dhorrina jeans (with the 1-inch zipper that was so cool for 13 year olds) were what everyone was wearing, I didn’t wear them and I remember a few boys in my Socials class talking about how it would be so funny to see me in a pair of those jeans. My size was once compared a submarine. Add to all of this that I didn’t have a real boyfriend until Grade 12 and I felt like I really was Shamu. Maybe none of you thought I was fat in high school, but I sure as hell felt like I was.
As I grew up and entered university I started to eat healthier meals and work out more often. That, paired with just losing some “baby fat”, led me to lose a few pounds and feel a bit better about myself. I turned 19, went to clubs and bars, and found that maybe I’m not so fat and bad looking. Drunk guys at bars and clubs thought I was good looking enough to hit on so the fat-fifteen-year-old version of me still living still inside of me found some validation through that.
Last year I fell in love with a wonderful man who liked me for who I was and called me “sexy” and “beautiful” when I was at the higher end of what I have weighed. After a few months I decided that, though he thought I was beautiful, I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. I had taken to wearing tights and yoga pants because my jeans didn’t fit anymore and I was sick of it. So I joined Weight Watchers.
Over the last year and a half on Weight Watchers I have made tons of changes to my diet and my life. I work out more often (I wish I could say I work out every day, and sometimes there are a few weeks where it’s every day, but I’m human. It’s not every day lol), I eat a lot cleaner than I used to, and I eat smaller portions. I’ve lost 30 lbs. and four pant sizes. I am the smallest I have ever been.
I am no longer the fat girl in my group of friends. I’m not the one that doesn’t have a boyfriend. I’m not the girl at dance who can’t wear the dance costumes the other girls wear. I am just one of the girls, who also gets hit on when we go out. I have an amazing boyfriend who has supported me through this whole journey/transition. And I have been known to wear a crop top or two.
So what happens to the fat-fifteen-year-old still living inside me?
She has been clinging on for dear life, telling me I’m not good enough, I’m not thin enough, and that if I get fat again nobody will love me.
How do I make her go away?
It has taken time, but I know I’m not fat anymore. I can look in the mirror now and see an average sized woman. I can look in the mirror and see how awesome my hair looks instead of how round my tummy looks.
I was talking about this once and a friend asked me, “What does she need? What does she want that you can give her that will make her leave?” So here is my farewell:
Dear Fat-Fifteen-Year-Old Me,
You have so many amazing qualities. You are smart, you are funny, you have a great support system, you are gorgeous, and everything will work out just the way you want it to. I know that you don’t care about your awesome qualities – you want to be pretty and have a boy fall for you. I promise, it will happen. You’ll even have boys who only want you for your body (imagine that!).
You go through everything that you go through because it will make you stronger and it will make you appreciate everyday moments in ways that others don’t. You will have amazing moments with an amazing man who truly thinks you’re beautiful. Yes, you.
I love you, but I think it’s time for you to go now.