I’ve struggled with weight for as long as I can remember. I was in middle school when it started–the summer before eight grade. I’d gone to my grandmother’s house in NY for the summer, where I’d indulge in 3-course meals several times a day (Italian family, of course). By the time I’d made it back home in Florida, it’d been almost two months and I put on several very recognizable pounds. At that time in my life, I had no care in the world other than what I’d be doing next with my friends that were just as odd and carefree as me. My father was the first person to note the weight gain, asking how I’d gained so much in such a short period of time. I had no answers, but that was the first time I’d become aware of my appearance and how I was expected to look. Even then, I was still relatively slim–and I’d also grown in some breasts that weren’t there prior to summer (which I am sure was a shock to my father, too). I was taking on a form I hadn’t expected and instead of embracing the change, I worried and felt alone as none of the girls around me seemed to struggle the same as me. My father continued to make note of my weight, suggesting ways I could be more active or that I shouldn’t eat. I’d even gone to school crying because of some unintentionally hurtful things he had said. These sly notes on my appearance and weight continued into high school when I was told by a complete stranger that I was fat. I only weighted 130 at the time. Let that sink in. I ballooned late in my senior year, after picking up a full-time job at a fast food joint, where I’d end up eating dinner nearly every night (as it was late when I’d get off and I had class the next morning). In college, I toyed with different diets and at one point struggled with bulimia. I’d also been hurting myself in other ways and thought often about suicide. My weight has fluctuated since, at one point in 2012 I’d dropped tens of pounds only to bounce back to the 190’s. This happened again in 2014. Now, in 2017, I still can’t recall a day where I’ve thought, Destinee, you look good. I can’t remember the last time I’ve looked at my body and felt any sort of self-love. I can’t remember the last time I have walked someplace and not felt that hundreds of eyes are snidely judging me. And then there are people’s unintentionally insensitive remarks:
“you should get your hair done”
“i like your hair better blonde”
“you should start working out with me”
“i’m so fat (says someone that’s never weighed more than 110)”
“i cut out carbs, you should too”
“i wish i could fit into your clothes, they’re so cute (says someone 5 sizes smaller)”
Society expects so much from all of us, and when you don’t meet its standards, don’t worry, you’ll know. I wish on no one the pain that accompanies lack of self-love. I wish there wasn’t the additional burden of people’s burning eyes on you when you’re at the gym, or eating at a restaurant, or walking in a park. I wish friends encouraged and showered with love instead of taking on the role of critic. I wish there were no standards to be met or compared to. I wish there was no pain in embracing oneself.
Here’s to hoping we can all love ourselves someday.