Early Body Image Struggles
“I’ve been trained my whole life to hate my body and not love it for what it is. From heavily photoshopped images in magazines to hurtful spoken words. Growing up in the ‘picture perfect’ era was mentally draining. How could I possibly be one of those perfect girls I saw plastered on every billboard and ad? How would I ever become that confident? When I was younger, I had no idea these images were basically fake. The person in the photo was real, but most likely heavily altered. Now that I am older, I am so happy I am able to spread joy by sharing my body positive journey.
Everyone has a journey and purpose in this thing we call life and this is mine.
Let’s start from the beginning, so you can get a sense of my journey. Right out of the gate, I had to fight. I was a preemie and only 4 pounds. I was instantly nicknamed ET because I looked like a mini alien. It was fine because I was too young to understand and looking back, it is kind of funny.
HOWEVER — I quickly learned words hurt and they can really affect the way you see yourself.
Elementary school and junior high were trying times for me. I was an awkward kid who would dance to the beat of my own drum. I would get called names for being a foot taller than everyone else. It also didn’t help that I started to develop early. I was wearing a training bra by third grade and it sure gave the bullies something else to pick on. Some of the nicknames I was called were, ‘a big ugly giant,’ ‘Big Bird,’ ‘the red-headed giant,’ ‘Hagrid,’ and ‘Ms. Frizzy Haired Frizzle.’ The list could go on.
Come sixth grade my bra size was a B/C cup. I would wear my uncle’s baggy band tees and two to three sports bras to flatten my chest. It was embarrassing. I got called fat and ugly in 6th grade on the playground. That encounter sent me even deeper into a downward spiral of hating my appearance.
High school was one and the same. I was still the awkward teen who luckily found an outlet and played varsity volleyball from freshman to senior year. Even though I played sportws, I never really fit in with the jocks. I had a few close friends who loved music and concerts as much as I did. Luckily, I wasn’t the tallest or biggest person anymore. This time around, I would get made fun of not only by students but also adults. I would be ridiculed for wearing all black, having colored hair, and as always, for simply being different. I don’t remember a single time during my high school years when I had self-confidence. Anytime I thought I was confident about something, I was shut down almost immediately by those who mocked me.
High school came and went and I was lucky enough to get a full-ride scholarship to Phoenix College to play volleyball. That boosted my confidence for the very first time in my life! I worked out 6+ hours a day and had an amazing body I was proud of. I finally had a body ‘society would approve of.’ I was skinny, I had abs, a nice butt, and legs. I was beginning to love myself, and that was a foreign feeling. The people in college were kind and understanding. I had my volleyball girls and all was well. Until my time at the community college was over.
In my junior year of college, I went to Arkansas and played one year. During that time, I became seriously ill and was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, which caused me to lose extreme amounts of hair and lose weight at an alarming rate. I was down to 130 pounds in a matter of two months. That may seem like a normal number, however not for someone who is five foot ten inches. I lost 45 to 50 pounds within those two months. I instantly slipped back down the self-hate spiral. Because of that, I did not get to finish my senior year. But it was okay. I was happy to be back home.
Once I was finally home, I started to gain weight again. My thyroid somehow healed itself and to this day, I just get ‘thyroid attacks’ and I will go a day or two feeling like absolute crap.
Body Positivity Awareness
A few years passed and I finished school and started working. I got married to my amazing husband and decided to start a blog! I struggled with what to talk about. First, it was about marriage, then plus size fashion, then food. No topic really stuck, as none of it was really who I was. I was scared to branch out and not fit into the ever-popular fashion blog world. I am an artist who loves to express herself. So that is what I started to do.
I started to show the real me. Granted, I gained ‘so much’ weight since college and could not stand being in front of the camera, however, I decided to push through and share my journey to self-love. I started to show unfiltered and unedited photos. Showing off that chubby roll I always hated and leaving my cellulite alone. Being raw and honest. That in and of itself has helped me become more confident and love myself again.
Do I have bad days? Of course I do. I am only human and I am allowed to feel and validate my feelings. Sometimes I still get really down because I am no longer extremely fit or bone skinny.
I am in a new phase in my life where I no longer can spend 6+ hours working out. I’m learning to accept my curves and accept my ‘flaws.’
Being a body positive influencer has really changed my life and way of thinking. I love that I am able to relate to others and cheer them up. Do I get negative comments telling me to lose weight and people still calling me fat? Of course I do. I just ignore them and move on with my day. Just the other day, seconds after posting a new Instagram image, I got a message from someone who sells fat loss pills saying, You could benefit from these.’
People are mean and unfortunately, social media has not helped quiet these keyboard bullies. They get more vocal by the day. I just tell myself to let that go. To be completely honest, I was super nervous to write this feature post and open myself up to potentially millions of strangers and get criticized for loving myself as I am. It’s a risk I am willing to take though, especially if it helps at least one person.
I used to be scared for my future children. However, if I can teach them to love themself as they are and be kind, their positivity will spread to others as well. If my future children can grow up in a world where they, and society, accept and love themself as they are, then I know I have done my job. It all starts at home. Be kind with your words and tell your children they are beautiful because hurtful words from parents hurt the worst.
I just want the world to know they are beautiful how they are. It is perfectly okay to love and appreciate yourself at every single stage in life; even if you’re working towards a weight loss goal, or health goal, or not. You are beautiful. Just the way you are at this moment.
Being body positive to me means loving yourself no matter your size. Big, small, medium — you are beautiful. I am beautiful.
WE ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL! I am perfectly imperfect — and that’s okay. Because in all reality no one is ‘perfect.'”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Malorie Forakis. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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