‘At 6 years old, I cried alone in a dressing room. ‘Why don’t they have bigger sizes?’: Woman recounts her journey to self-love

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“I remember the first time I became aware I was ‘FAT.’ I was 6 years old. We were lined up for recess and Chelsie Herman (yes, I really do remember her name. Maybe because of her pants or maybe because she didn’t invite me to her seventh birthday party because she said there wouldn’t be ‘room.’) had on a pair of bright purple jeans that reminded me of my Lisa Frank lunch box. I had never seen a pair of jeans like that before and I knew I had to have them! The first thing I said when my mom picked me up from school that day was, ‘Can I have a pair of purple jeans, PLEEEEAASEE?’

I don’t remember how long after that this was, but at some point, I found myself crying alone in a Limited Too dressing room. The first time, I was 6 years old. And if I had a dollar for every time I’ve cried alone in dressing rooms since then, I could buy more than a few pairs of jeans. They had the purple jeans. My mom was more than willing to buy them for me and there I was, standing in the mirror not understanding why they didn’t have any bigger sizes. This was the first time I remember hating myself, but it wouldn’t be the last.

Courtesy of Kelby Marie

Over the course of the next 20 some odd years, I experienced this newly found hate for my body over and over until it became part of who I was. I was the fat girl who hated herself. Boys laughed when they found out I had a crush on them. I never had cute or trendy clothes because the only things that came in my size were matronly and made for women 10 times my age and only came in black. When I did find clothes that were current, they were hoodies and I’d wear that hoodie with my sleeves pulled up in the scorching Georgia summers. I honestly thought it was better to pass out from the heat than someone else see my repulsive body. I missed out on sharing clothes with friends, missed out on being a cheerleader in high school because the uniforms weren’t made in my size, had to use a T-shirt from the men’s section when we made airbrush T-shirts in Panama City on 8th-grade spring break, and even resorted to trying to buy maternity clothes in hopes they fit me better. There was nowhere and no one to turn to for help or guidance. I was embarrassed. I thought I was alone and if you want my brutal honesty… let’s just say I’m lucky to have made it out alive.

young girl sitting in chair holding sash
Courtesy of Kelby Marie

My motivation to be a plus-size blogger stems from how alone and miserable I felt during those 20 years. Battling puberty, dating (or lack thereof) in high school and college with no one that looked like me to tell me it was gonna be okay. There was no one out there with stretch marks wearing a crop top, no one that weighed as much as I did with a boyfriend, no one that looked like me in fashion magazines, and no one to tell me I was beautiful, I was perfect and I was worthy. (Sure my mom and dad told me but what teenager would believe that?!) That the issues with sizing and diet culture were a problem plaguing girls and women everywhere and I was not only not alone, but a revolution was coming!

The light at the end of my tunnel came in the form of a hashtag. #body-positivity. I saw beautiful, happy, and successful women that looked like ME, living fulfilling lives and they were wearing cute clothes too!

young woman laughing in bathing suit
Courtesy of Kelby Marie

At that moment, my story had come full circle and I knew what I had to do. I drug my feet for a while, giving in to those old voices of doubt and fear in my head telling me I’d just get made fun of. The kid at the middle school lunch table telling me he’d never ‘go out with me’ because I was fat. My sophomore year homecoming date that was grossed out when he felt my ‘gurdle’ under my dress while slow dancing or the grown men that often call me a ‘fat b*tch’ as they pass me in traffic. But then I realized none of that mattered if I could save just one little girl from trying to starved herself, hating herself, or crying alone in a dressing room.

young woman smiling
Courtesy of Kelby Marie

The other day I was at Target with my mom (we still love to shop together) trying to find a bralette to take to the beach. The dressing rooms were still closed due to COVID so I tried on the bralette over my tank top, standing right there in the middle of the underwear section. I didn’t know anyone was watching but as I turned around to find a mirror, I saw her emerge from the racks. No pun intended. This shy, young teenage-ish looking girl smiled and said she was going to buy the bra because she liked how it looked on me and if I was going to buy it, she would too. Walking up the register with her, two plus-size girls with their heads held high and bralettes in hand, I felt overcome with joy. THIS is what I was meant to do. THIS is the reason for my suffering. If my experiences can help the next generation (or even girls from my own generation that are still struggling) then they were not in vain.

Courtesy of Kelby Marie

I was lucky enough to find my own self-confidence and my own self-love with the help of those #bodypositive bloggers that came before me. But where there was trauma there will always be a need for healing. I’ve decided my healing is going to be lifting others up out of the trenches of diet culture and breathe my love and my confidence into them until they can do that for themselves.

We are ALL worthy. We are ALL beautiful. And we can all be FLY AS HE*L!”

young woman posing in bathing suit on balcony
Courtesy of Kelby Marie

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kelby Marie from Denver, Colorado. You can follow her journey on Instagram here and here and on Liketoknowit. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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