The first signs of me being unhappy with the way I looked started in early middle school. I was never told anything mean, but comments were made that I was incredibly skinny. Some of my friends would joke and say I needed to eat more despite me already being comfortable with how much I was eating. I took their comments as complements but I was confused. I was young but I wasn’t stupid. Wasn’t so much media dedicated to weight loss and everyone’s desire to be skinny? I started to think that I was the wrong kind of thin, that I was somehow made wrong. These thoughts never bothered me too often, but they did cross my mind every now and then and increasingly bothered me as I got older. I knew that others had to be feeling the same way I did, but I rarely heard hushed voices in the locker rooms after gym class saying things like, “I need to lose five pounds before prom” or “I’m going to skip lunch and dinner today. I’m looking fat.”
The older I got, however, the more open to myself and those around me I became. It turned out that I was not alone, that I had company who disliked the same things about themselves that I did. In the past few years, and even more so since starting college, I’ve made an active commitment to get to the state of mind where I enjoy who I am and the way I look.
It sounds a little shallow of me, but my appearance bothered me so much that it affected the way I handled the other aspects of my life. I swore that as long as I didn’t look a certain way, nothing in my brain or my personality would matter. That was not true, of course, but it was only after making changes to my appearance did I realize this.
My hair was the first thing I changed. I had had the same hairstyle since about fourth grade and in November of my last year of high school I decided to cut it all off. Okay, not all of it, but certainly most of it. I finally loved my hair and I still do! It gives me an extraordinary amount of confidence every time I get a compliment from a stranger about my hair. It makes me feel wonderful!
It took me until the summer before college to get the nerve to try contacts. I had the stereotypical “brace face and four eyes” look and I wanted to try something new. The hardest part is still putting them in, but it has gotten so much easier in the past year. It’s so easy to not have to worry about glasses all the time!
Most kids get braces in middle school and get them off a few years later. I, on the other hand, got my braces on in early January of 2013: the very beginning of my last semester of high school! I was told I would have them on for two years, but I did not mind at all. I was extremely excited to finally get my teeth and my overall bite fixed. My teeth had been a great source of self-consciousness since they were crowded on the bottom and just overall not too straight. My top teeth so far are almost perfect and my bottom teeth are looking better than ever before! I’m now no longer shy about smiling and, just like my hair, I started getting complements on how good they looked. I am so grateful for my braces!
Despite improving all of those previous aspects about my appearance and being happy with them, there was still a big weight on my shoulders. As a brand new college student who was going to be living on campus, I was warned by dozens upon dozens of people about the dreaded Freshman Fifteen. The way people talked about the Freshman Fifteen made me imagine it in all bold capital letters, italicized, and underlined. THE FRESHMAN FIFTEEN! sounded like it should star in its own horror film. I blew it off saying that I would be walking plenty around campus and, besides, so what if I gain fifteen pounds? That’s not a lot and I can lose it just as easily as I can gain it.
After a year of college I realized that I had, in fact, been lying to myself. Every time I stepped on a scale I swore that it was wrong and needed to be calibrated. I denied the fact that I did gain weight and I was very unhappy with myself. Recently I’ve made some changes in my life to help fix the struggle I’ve had with my weight and I will write about those changes in my next blog post. Check back in two weeks to see what I’ve done!
If you have any comments or questions, feel free to email me or leave a comment on my blog!