-Stephanie, New York

My name is Stephanie and I am a 33-year-old female living in New York City.

Like so many people I have had a lifelong struggle with allowing others to shape my opinions of myself. Over the past year, my life has changed in so many profound ways that I have had this nagging feeling to write about it. That is why I have begun blogging. I am blogging publicly because I want to join in the body positive revolution by contributing my story and journey in hopes of helping others. I also want to contribute to the fight to end emotional, mental, and physical abuse. I hope to inspire others to do the same because no two peoples’ stories are similar. We may share in the struggle but we each handle them in our own unique ways. We can learn from one another. Form a community with a stronghold of support.

The title of my blog, “When I thought I was fat,” was born from my constant complaining about how “I wish I was the weight I was when I thought I was fat.” A mouth full I know, hence the shorter title, but for me, there is no truer statement. Ever since I was around six years old I believed myself to look like a “rollie pollie.” This was a result of how adults spoke to me and how it made me feel. From my cheerleading coaches to family members, no one was exempt from my overpowering abilities to let the words of others shape my self-esteem as I grew up. Yet now when I look at old photographs of myself I do not see a “rollie pollie.” I see an active child. An athletic child. A child capable of doing all the same things, and sometimes even more, than children that were considered “thin” or “light.” I see a young high school girl that wore clothes that were entirely too big to hide this hideous thing people called “fat.” Yet I sit here now typing my first blog 70 pounds away from my high school weight wishing so bad to get that number back.

There were periods where I was not allowed to eat, I had to weigh myself on demand, and he would wear hats in public to hide himself from being seen with me.

Body positivity for me did not come easy. If I had to pick the moment when my self-esteem took the biggest plunge I’d say it was my twenties.  It was the darkest time in my life. I found myself in a relationship with a man who was ashamed of me. The memories haunt me less and less but they still remain. There were periods where I was not allowed to eat, I had to weigh myself on demand, and he would wear hats in public to hide himself from being seen with me. One year on the annual day trip to the beach he told me how he’d like someday to not have to go to the beach with a beached whale. That was it for me. I felt like I would never be good enough and soon developed the phrase “I will do _____ after I lose some weight.” I avoided the gym, dance classes, exercise classes, joining weight watchers and so forth because I was too fat. I didn’t want to be made fun of. This went on for 12 long years. When the relationship ended I am guilty of becoming an emotional eater. I managed to gain 60 pounds in less than a year. I can’t pretend that I do not know how that happened. I didn’t just run into a pile of fat and it became my friend and decided to hitchhike on my thighs!

I have reemerged in my 30s. I was introduced to the body positive movement in two ways.  My first experience was reading a book by Maria Bucaro Love your body now! From that book I learned to say positive things in replace of negative self-talk. This has helped me grow to love the things about myself that I used to dislike such as my arms and legs! I also began seeing women that looked like me modeling. Plus-sized models like Tess Holiday going out there and not care what others thought has given me inspiration to do that same. Furthermore, one of the things that I have learned recently is to dress for your body. For me personally I find I look and feel better when I wear clothes that flatter my body and not hide it. I actually look and feel bigger than I am when I wear clothes that are not form-fitting. Shopping was never a fun venture for me until I became more body positive. This past year I’ve been having a great time exploring different clothing styles and experimenting in things that I would have never previously worn. I’m now dress obsessed! Big shout out to Torrid for making clothes I finally feel sexy in!

Finally, I’d like to say that body positivity does not mean accepting unhealthy. I get upset when I read comments from people who believe body positivity is promoting obesity. You can’t see a person’s health by just looking at their outward appearance. I may be overweight but I’ve never had high blood pressure. Body positivity is not about encouraging being fat. It is supporting the idea that everyone has the right to love and accept themselves. Do body shamers really believe that people should be miserable just because they are not society’s idea of a healthy weight? You can be happy in your own skin and still want to lose weight. Everyone at some point or another I am sure has had experienced a time when they were unhappy with themselves. Whether you’re thin, heavy or in-between, and no matter what your gender, being body positivity encompasses everyone.

Everyone at some point or another I am sure has had experienced a time when they were unhappy with themselves. Whether you’re thin, heavy or in-between, and no matter what your gender, being body positivity encompasses everyone.

It took me decades to finally get a grip on myself and now I want to extend the invitation to join me on my journey to sustainable happiness and self-acceptance.

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