With my 21st birthday around the corner, I’m looking back on the darkest periods of my life that left my body image in total carnage. I never knew that my own perception of myself would change as drastically as it did.
Dear 12-Year-Old Me,
Hey, you. You’re in year 8, probably shopping in town with friends. Whilst they were buying cute tops, frilly skirts and leggings to pair with neon ankle warmers – you’re the only one buying socks. Yes, socks. You’re starting to look around at your friends and thinking that you are the fat friend. It sucks. It wasn’t until this moment that you first started to doubt yourself. The comparison of your body size to your friends, becomes a daunting thought in your mind. The changing room montages that started off as a fun game, now continuously knock your confidence every time. Don’t forget that ache you feel when your friends pick you an outfit with size 8 tops that don’t fit.
The pure innocence of try-on hauls with each other would turn into painstaking conversations – “You know I’m bigger than you, right”. It hurt you, I know. The over-bearing thoughts when you would take pictures with your friends, whose collarbones were as prominent as your round face. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. But your self-hatred would brew every shopping trip and you decided that buying socks was your saviour. Socks with slogans, neon piping, multi-coloured soles and heels. You were the queen of socks. The only thing you could always show off without worrying how your body looked.
And then, the boobs arrived as did the insecurities. Coming from a line of busty women, it was written in the stars that your chest would bloom quicker than everyone else’s. The constant questions of what your bra size was, paired with the desperation of trying to convince everyone that you were a B cup (you knew that was a lie), left you with sleepless nights due to watching YouTube videos on breast reduction surgery. The embarrassment of a large bust even made you refuse to go bra shopping with your mum. You felt abnormal but I want you to know that you were never were.
I’m Sorry to My 16-Year-Old Self
This was the year you properly started over-thinking your weight. GCSE’s were fast approaching but the only thing on your mind was how you were going to look at Prom. The most glamorous night of your life left you sick to your stomach, dreading the thought of being frumpy in a gown. You hated your prom dress, you felt like an emerald green bowling ball with bowling pins for arms. The anxiety of how your chest pooled in the halter neck and the constant fear of spilling out in the middle of the dance floor.
It wasn’t your fault that the prom dress models looked nothing like you. Your dream of wearing a beautiful dress was crushed and left a black mark on what could have been a highlight of being in high school.
I wish I could tell you that having boobs was a normal part of puberty. Every girl was going through similar changes, you were not alone. I want you to know that you were never the fat friend. No one is ever the fat friend because it’s not role that needs to be filled. Your place in that group was down to your dramatic personality that leaves your friends in stitches. Don’t lose that.
I’m glad you managed to pull yourself out of this mind space – it wasn’t easy I know. But it paid off because for the next few years, you managed to focus on making sure you were a good person instead of a thin person. The joke’s on you as well, people are now wishing for a naturally fuller bust like you. And, you have the pleasure of looking forward today when you look at your boobs in a low-cut dress with a smile on your face.
The only regret you’ll have is never buying those cheap outfits in year 8 despite how criminal they were. Looking back, I’m happy you decided to wear those baseball jackets without focusing on the size of your thighs. You looked like as stylish as anyone could look in 2012 (the trends that year were not kind to anyone).
I’d like to apologise to you for wanting to look like other girls. I should’ve made you feel confident in your own skin. I should’ve told you that the colour of your dress made your skin glow. There was no need to spend countless of hours searching for fad diets and planning to starve yourself in order to look like a stick thin model. You didn’t have to skip breakfast every day in hopes of shedding the pounds. I should have been kinder to you and for that I am truly sorry. I want you to know that you looked absolutely stunning in that dress and you glided around that dance floor as graceful as anyone can in a pair of heels. And your boobs? They have never looked better.
A Special Thanks to My 20-Year-Old Self
I’d like to finish by thanking the woman I am today. The woman who doesn’t look in the mirror and feel disgusted at the love handles, the thicker arms or even the dimply thighs. The woman who will eats to her heart’s content without worrying about how many calories are in cookie dough pie. The woman who now enjoys exercise again and happily can eat healthy without feeling like she’s sacrificing her happiness. The woman who tries her hardest to make sure that the people around her feel as good as she does. You’ve done good, kid.
My Advice to You
I am no longer insecure about my weight and I haven’t been for a long time. I am one of the lucky ones who can get up in the morning and not have to worry about how my arms look or if my belly bulges out in places. I have never said it before, but I am truly happy being a size 14 with a great bust. I could spend the rest of my life worrying about my body image, but the greatest moment is when you can look in the mirror and think “you’re alright, you know. Not too bad”. And that is my key to happiness. What’s yours?
My philosophy is – you have two options in life. You can spend hours of your time picking yourself apart, destroying your self-esteem until there’s nothing left. Or you can spend hours being kind to yourself and celebrating what makes you who you are. Would you ever actively choose to be so hard on yourself? I don’t believe you would.
So, to the person who’s reading this, on the days where you feel as if your insecurities are over-powering your mind, when you struggle to look at yourself in the mirror because you hate what you see…please remember this. Remember that you were crafted to the same perfection as everyone else. Remember that even the darkest days have a beautiful sun rise. You are perfect and I hope you one day too feel the same.