Ever since I can remember I’ve always been bigger than the rest. I have strong memories in junior school, aged about seven or eight years old, feeling extremely conscious in P.E. when wearing shorts. The first thing I noticed when it came to body image was that my thighs were around twice the size of all the other girls around me. Throughout school I always felt conscious of kneeling down because my legs seemed gigantic in comparison to the tiny skinny prepubescent girls that surrounded me. That frame of mind of feeling different in image and being a black sheep from the crowd has stuck with me since.
There were some good conclusions that came from this frame of mind. Although I wasn’t body confident by any standards I’ve always worn clothes that may not fit in with any sense of what you might call, style. I wore gypsy dresses when I was a teen or loud colors and unusual patterns instead of skinny jeans or tiny crop tops. My long blond hair was tied Phoebe style in plaits instead of beautiful flowing luscious curls and I even experimented with dip dye long before it became a trend. I figured that if I was going to be different then I should just go the whole hog and to a certain extent that is a promise I still stand by today.
Except for my weight. This despair over feeling and looking different mashed in with general anxieties that were never acknowledged meant I turned to food to cope. I binged. All the parties as a young kid I remember being stood near the buffet table, trying to see how much I could get away with eating. On a daily basis I was constantly sticking my head in the fridge or getting in trouble for spending all my pocket money on sweets at the market. Having chunky thighs began to expand and so did my general weight which spiraled my self confidence lower. And unfortunately, other girls soon picked up on this and found it as a method of entertainment in bullying me by picking out my faults in front of other boys, or embarrassing me if I ever admitted I might have a crush on someone. Because obviously, I wasn’t pretty or skinny enough for someone to be seen as “fancied”.
Into my late teens I did join Weight Watchers with my Mum and managed to lose some weight, enough to feel confident and to fit into size 12 and size 14 dresses which was a dream. My thighs were still chunky but I had a waist, I had a figure and realised now that in some ways I may have been enviable to others for looking womanly at such a young age. But I became complacent and a lot of that weight loss was due to stress and a lack of eating. My final year at school was rough and I barely ate one meal a day, somehow I just switched off but seeing the weight loss week by week spurred me on to keep losing. However, over the years, old habits returned and after a severe spout of depression, a lack of routine and working unsociable hours I’ve now ballooned to nearly sixteen stone.
I know I’ve been around this weight for a while now. When my brother got married a few years ago I wanted desperately to lose weight so that I wasn’t just the fat ugly sister stuffed into a dress. Unfortunately the notion of this depressed me that I just accepted I was never going to be anything but this and I struggled to find anything that fit me. On the day itself I felt self conscious, uncomfortable and ashamed. I felt guilty to my brother that all his new family might be looking at me in disgust and my lack of self control. Eventually halfway through the day I changed into normal clothes and did everything I could to hide away from photos.
There have been many times I’ve sat and cried, and in turn eaten and binged to feed the black hole of despair that sits inside of me when I look in the mirror or see a wardrobe of beautiful clothes that no longer fit me. It turns me back to those days when girls picked on me for being fat and boys laughed heartily at the notion of possibly dating me. Those voices have controlled me for over twenty years to the point that any shred of confidence is soon shattered when I see what I’ve let myself become. The blame turns to anger, and the anger turns to sadness, which turns to eating and further down the rabbit hole I go.
Seeing my Father become so ill, so suddenly fills me with guilt in that I am capable of being a healthy person, but I cannot find it in me to be disciplined enough to do it. I could lose the weight, I could run marathons and swim oceans but instead I sit here eating another bar of chocolate denying that person to myself because others wrote me off long before I had chance to do so myself. But it has to change. I want to make him proud and I want to be able to go shopping and try on nice clothes or not be filled with dread at the thought of a camera being shoved in my face. I know it will be hard, but this is hard. Sitting here filled with self hate and trying to manage a happy face is exhausting on top of everything else I’m going through.
And so this is it, it won’t be an easy path. Not every week will be perfect but it’s steps in the right direction. Steps toward letting go of those childlike voices telling me that I’m not good enough. Steps toward accepting who I am and that I have curves but in a way I can be proud of myself and not chained to this image I’ve cemented myself as. Steps toward feeling proud of who I am and not ashamed of my complete lack of self-control. This is my path of weight loss but of life changing goals to become the person I dream of. This is the first week of the new life I want to lead and be proud of.