‘My weight, my sexuality, and my autism don’t define me. I do.’: Self-love advocate urges ‘be unapologetically you’

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“I grew up in Southern Indiana, the oldest child to my parents. Growing up, I don’t remember much from that time but I do remember being the fat kid people made fun of. I was always made fun of and bullied in school up until I transferred to online school my senior year of high school. When I was 12, my mom packed up me and my two sisters and we moved to Chicago, Illinois to live with her friend for a bit after my parents had a huge fight and settled on divorce. It was a hard time for me, and for a while we were homeless.

Around that time, I was in and out of psychiatric wards because of my behavior and that is when they decided to do a test to figure out if I was autistic or not. I was diagnosed as autistic when I was 13. When I was around 14 or 15, my mom met her now-husband and we moved to Oregon, where he lived. When we moved here, I lived in and out of foster care and group homes because my behavior was really bad. My mom wasn’t able to help take care of me and she needed extra help.

young girl and her dad
Courtesy of Chloe McHone

Going in and out of those places made me even more insecure because of the way people talked to and treated me. Growing up around that time, I was coming to terms with my sexuality, even though I didn’t know what it meant at the time. All I know is I was interested in girls and I thought that was wrong. That was until high school when I met some amazing people who explained to me it was okay and it was normal. I went through a phase for a while maybe a few years where my body dysmorphia from being overweight was so bad I thought I was transgender for a while. Right when spring break happened during my senior year, Covid-19 got worse and they put everyone in online school, but at that time, I transferred to a fully online school because of being bullied. That was when they realized the online school was better for me and I will continue to do that through my college career.

A month after I graduated high school, I was kicked out of the group home. I moved back in with my mom for a bit. After that, I moved into an apartment with a friend of mine who turned out to be someone they were not and they left after a lot of stuff they had said and done. Around that time, I started getting caregivers from the state who would help me with my everyday stuff. One of my caregivers, who I am still with today, is one of my biggest supporters and my photographer for my photos. Growing up, my mom has been my biggest supporter, and today she still is and she encourages me to do the stuff I believe in and the stuff I want to do. I’ve always wanted to make a change in the world being the person I am as a plus-size queer autistic individual. My speech teacher from high school is like a second mom to me. I still talk to her, and she encourages me to do everything I want to do, and everything that is better for the world. My friends, who I adore so much, are my hype men I need. It hasn’t always been easy for me in life and it will probably never be completely easy.

Girl in graduation cap and gown, friend with her
Courtesy of Chloe McHone

As an autistic person, I feel and see things differently than others, including other autistic people themselves, because we are all different in our own ways. For example, I am super empathetic. When I see anything sad or if I see anybody sad, it makes me sad or if I see anybody happy, it will make me happy. I feel pain worse than most people for like when I’m on my period, I am down until it ends because it is super painful and takes everything out of me. When I was in foster care and group homes, people would tell me all bad things about myself and force me to do things I didn’t want to do, like take diet pills or starve myself. Weight is a genetic disorder because all my family is like this and honestly getting older and coming to terms with this makes me realize that being plus size makes me different and special in so many ways. When you get older, it doesn’t matter how old but it could be from 18 to 38, you seem to realize different things about yourself and grow more as a person. I have become more confident in myself and other people.

Woman posing in field
Courtesy of Chloe McHone

 

I’m going to be honest here. I still get bullied to this day. I get messages and a lot of hate for just being me and it does hurt but you learn to move on with your life after feeling that hurt for a certain amount of time. I remember when I was in elementary school, I accidentally left my glasses near the tree in the playground. A squirrel was around there and the teacher had to come with me to find my glasses while the squirrel was being crazy for some odd reason. When we got back, my main bully screamed I had rabies and for everybody had to stay away from me because she didn’t like me. It hurt a lot. I still think about it to this day but it makes me realize what was going through her head to make her hate me for it so much for no reason. In high school, I had these two friends I thought were going to be my best friends for life until they started sending me death threats and rape threats on social media. I had to end the relationship and they would continue to message me and I would end up having to call the cops on them. They called me all sorts of names due to my disability, and honestly, it is kind of stupid when you think about why people call you those names—it is because that’s the only thing they know about you to insult you by.

girl modeling
Courtesy of Chloe McHone

I just started modeling independently when I was 18 because I wanted to show people like me they can do the impossible. Later on in life, I want to start a YouTube channel documenting my life and showing people what it’s like to be me and to be an autistic lesbian who is plus size as well. Coming to terms with your sexuality is hard—and it was hard for me because for a while it took me a lot of time to explore what sexuality was to me. I recently came to terms with being a lesbian a few months ago. I have even started using dating apps and going out there and talking to people I am interested in. Growing up, I did a lot of bad things on the internet because being straight was so hyper-sexualized I thought being gay was wrong and I was trying to convince myself I was straight even though I wasn’t. And for people who are struggling with their self-identity, all I gotta say is be who you are. Be unapologetically you because no one is the same. We are all different and people who want people to be the same have to realize that and being different is normal—being the same as not.

Self-expression is a big part of who I am and I get told off for when I express myself with my outfits or my personality. When I wear crop tops or shorts outside, I get looks and people saying stuff directly at me. When I am too flamboyant while talking to somebody, I get told to tone it down and I am being too obnoxious.

girl posing
Courtesy of Chloe McHone

One thing I use for self-expression is hair dye because I really like to express myself with my hair. Throughout the years, my hair has had many different lengths and colors. Growing up, my outfits slowly turned from bulky and covering up to wearing whatever I wanted to wear. I want to prove to people models don’t have to be neurotypical and skinny as a stick and people with many different backgrounds and statues can model and be who they want to be. I haven’t been signed by a company yet and haven’t done any gigs yet, but I do it independently because I love to and I want to show people I am beautiful and they can be beautiful too.

Loving myself is a big part of who I am. It took me a long time to learn how to love myself but I realized I finally know how. You get a lot of love from other people but sometimes the validation you need is from yourself. My weight doesn’t define me. My sexuality doesn’t define me. My autism doesn’t define me. I define me. One of my favorite shows, the Bold Type, is one of the shows I live by when I need to be confident in myself. It’s about three best friends who work at a magazine company and they learn more about themselves throughout the seasons of the show.

Woman posing with pearl necklace and glasses
Luna Studios Photography

I am learning a lot about myself as I grow up and I am still learning about myself right now. All I got to say is don’t be afraid to put yourself out there because, believe it or not, there are actually people out there who will support you and love you unconditionally. Even though I don’t remember much of my childhood, all I can tell you is I have had a rough time, but getting older, I learned more about myself and the world, and I learned to love the world and myself as a whole. My friends and family have always supported me through anything I do and I would like to thank them for that because they have done so much for me to be who I am today. So if you’re looking to start a YouTube channel or a blog or maybe even Instagram or Facebook about yourself for people in the public to see, just do it. Be who you are unapologetically and show people how to love themselves even when it is hard to.”

two girls smiling
Courtesy of Chloe McHone

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Chloe McHone from Portland, Oregon USA. Follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here and besure to subscribeto our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories like this here:

When I Tell You My Son Is Autistic, Please Don’t Say ‘I’m Sorry’

I Didn’t Know I Was Autistic Until Age 25, And It Was Terrifying

‘A middle-aged woman stopped me at the gym. ‘You are so pretty. You could be a model if only you lost weight!’ I’d just lost 140 pounds.’: Woman urges ‘being fat will never take away my self-worth’

‘This morning I got some horrible news: ‘Models who aren’t a size 0 are called plus size.’ My body isn’t risky or brave, it’s normal.’: Woman learns lesson on body positivity, ‘I realized it’ll take more than 30 days to do’

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