“Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a bigger person. I’ve always had the belly and stretch marks. I struggled to love myself for years. I was so quick to hate on my body, to grab the rolls and want to rip them off. As a 16-year-old girl, there was nothing more exciting than an upcoming school year. The chance to buy new clothing, to rebrand yourself was exhilarating… for most girls. Being plus size, I dreaded back to school shopping. While other girls were trying on cute crop tops and tight-fitting jeans in the dressing room, then modeling them for their family and friends, I stood frozen in front of a mirror, feeling that all too familiar sense of dread at the thought that I had to try on more clothes that would not look good on me. I ripped off shirt after shirt with frustration, not being able to hide my face full of embarrassment as my family attempted to help me find clothes I would ultimately feel uncomfortable in. Nothing fit right. Either the shirts were too tight and showed too much of my rolls, or they were too loose and made me look like I was wearing a burlap sack.
School was hard. It was hard to be the only plus size girl in a group of skinny friends. I always felt like I didn’t fit in, that people would see our friend group and whisper about me being the biggest one. I constantly felt like people were talking behind my back. I couldn’t walk down the hallway at school without my heart feeling like it was at my feet. I remember I’d forget to eat breakfast some days and come to school feeling starved. Those were the days I would bring a granola bar into first period. I remember the embarrassed feeling I got as I took tiny bites in class. I felt as if every person in the room was judging me for eating. ‘God she can’t even wait until lunch?’ ‘ She carries snacks in her bag? No wonder she’s fat.’ Why did I feel like this for simply trying to provide myself with nourishment? I was tired of feeling like that.
Society has made the idea of a plus-sized woman into something horrible. God forbid we have a little more meat on our bones than the average female. Movies, magazines, television shows, store advertisements–they all provided an unrealistic image of a woman. I grew up with stores only carrying up to a size XL and considering it ‘plus-size.’ The woman modeling the clothes I was wearing was a size 00 and, of course, she made the shirt look amazing. When I wore the same shirt, I looked like a busted can of biscuits. I just wanted to be pretty. Skinny.
I met my husband in my sophomore year of high school. He was plus size like I was, so feeling comfortable around him was easy. There were still times where I felt like I wasn’t skinny enough, but he was always there to reassure me that I was the most beautiful girl in the world. Six years later, he was still standing behind me as I got dressed every day and complimenting me like it was the first time he’d ever seen me. I believe my husband was a huge part of my journey to self-love. He has never made me feel like I’m not beautiful. He admires my curves, rolls and ‘imperfections’ every single day.
We found out we were expecting in the early fall of 2018. The moment that I looked up ‘plus-size pregnancy’ on Google, the articles of stressful information hit me like a brick wall. There were horror stories of doctors being prejudiced to the mothers for being bigger, calling them fat like it was nothing. I was horrified. At my first appointment, my doctor commented on my weight. ‘You probably won’t be able to pull off a vaginal delivery due to your size.’ The words that came out of his mouth sent my heart to the floor. Our next appointment, I voiced my concerns with the situation and he immediately fixed how he spoke to me. He was supportive of me wanting to try to deliver vaginally. He never commented on my weight again. He ended up being surprised that I didn’t develop gestational diabetes and how little weight I gained.
At my 38 week appointment, we found out that I had developed cholestasis. It was affecting my liver, and ultimately affecting our son. I had to be rushed to the hospital and induced that night. I spent 42 hours in labor, with no progression in sight. By the end of the 42 hours, I delivered my son via c-section. The moment I held my son for the first time, I realized how truly amazing my body was, even though I was plus size. I did that! The body I was often ridiculed about created a life. From that day forth, I appreciated my body more than I ever have before.
In the short 7 months that my son has been alive, I have realized that your weight has nothing to do with your worth. I look in the mirror and admire my stretch marks, my scars, my birthmarks. It took a lot for me to realize that I am a work of art. I was given one body in this life and I decided to appreciate it for what it is. As I raise my son, I will teach him that everyBODY is amazing, unique and perfect. I will raise him to love his body for what it is, to know that he is perfect. I will raise him to not judge others based on looks. I pray that my son will never look at his body the way I once looked at mine.
These days, I don’t mind posting full-body photos on social media. I don’t hate taking family photos in worry that I won’t look good. I have had several women reach out to me to talk about their body image and how to make it better. I have been told that I have helped the way people talk about their bodies, and I think that in itself is incredible. I am not using my Instagram to help others realize that everyBODY is worthy and that your weight has nothing to do with your worth.
I am thankful that times have changed and for the better. Nowadays they provide advertising of women above a size 14, they cast plus-size people in movies and television shows. I felt like I was slowly learning to love and accept myself and so was the world. I didn’t recognize the change until around 2016, I started looking in the mirror and not hating my body. I no longer wanted to take scissors and cut off my stomach so I could be thin. Singers like Lizzo give me and millions of other plus-size people a feeling of hope and acceptance.
There is hope for plus size women, plus size mothers, plus size daughters and sons. I see hope on the horizon for us. No more looking at ourselves and crying. No more speaking badly of ourselves. We are beautiful. We are worthy. We are plus size and proud!”
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