"Do you have to make your own clothes because you’re too fat to buy them?"
It was like I had been winded by that comment.
Some punk kid who I’d never even met before managed to humiliate me with one single question. I would have been 12. I can remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach. I was sitting in a spa with 10 other kids, some I knew and most of them were randoms, you know the ones you meet on holidays in the pool. I actually couldn’t say anything immediately after because of the thoughts racing around my head. I was completely shattered. I remember the laughs from some of the other kids in the group and I remember the embarrassed looks from my friends who knew it would have hurt me so much. The laughs were followed by an eternal awkward silence.
Never underestimate the effect of one nasty off the cuff comment.
I had gone along thinking I was getting away with being bigger than I was and that no one had really noticed. I was tall so maybe I just hid it well. No, I didn’t. It was that day that I decided I didn’t fit in with my peers, that I didn’t belong. Now, I relish in the fact that there is no one else like me but then, as a 12 yr old, all I wanted to do was fit in. I of course brushed it off and never brought it up again. I was way too embarrassed to talk about it or bring it up with my loved ones. That comment slowly stared to shape the way I defined my body. I know my body image started being shaped from a much younger age but that is one of my first clear memories that there was evidence other thought I was disgusting too. It was a precursor for how I felt every time I put my swimming costume on.
When I put my cossie on today, I have to tell those voices that report how disgusting I look to beat it. And they do, but what is so interesting about that is that I love my body now! I rock my bikini and feel an immense sense of pride and satisfaction in the way that I look and more importantly how I feel. I still have days when I’m not feeling spectacular but know how to shift my focus so I don’t dwell on the negative. All those years of hating myself really left quite a scar on my psyche.
I think the reason I remember that day so clearly was because it was true but I didn’t realise other people knew it as well. Shopping for clothes had always been a nightmare for me. The brands I wanted to wear and the styles my friends were wearing never fit me. I couldn’t just walk into any shop and pull something off the rack and it fit. When the pants stopped doing up in the change room, I declared they weren’t right so needed to make them. My mum is a fantastic seamstress so that was never a problem. I started wearing pretty out there clothes because they couldn’t be bought in a shop and I had to make them. It meant only my mum would truly know what size I was wearing and I didn’t have to go through the heartbreak of the size 18 being to small.
Thinking about that day and that comment is still really hard for me for me. I have butterflies in my tummy 20 odd years later as I pull it back up to the surface. I can remember what that kid looked like. He was wearing green and black boardies and had dark brown hair. I can smell the chlorine from the spa and I remember it was dusk when it all happened. I sat in the spa, waiting until everyone else had gotten out so they wouldn’t be able to see just how big I was to need to make those boardies.
But you know what, it’s just a memory. It doesn’t have to predict the way I feel about myself anymore. We often take all these memories and experiences from our past and shove them deep down it the pit of our memory bank. We never actually process them because they hurt too much. Just like any emotion the pain will pass if we just process it. I just keep reminding myself it’s not my truth. It doesn’t define me and god dam it I won’t let that punk kid make me feel unworthy anymore.
What helps is that now my jeans are a size 10! I smile when I see the tag every time. That day in the spa and many days after I never would have imagined that I would be wearing size 10 jeans but I am. When I was a size 18 or 20, if something fit and looked half decent, I would buy one in each colour even if I didn’t really like it. I can now walk into any single shop and try any single item of clothing on and they fit. When I don’t love them, I don’t buy them because I don’t have to. It’s no longer a mental battle that I’m such a stupid fat person. Gosh I’m sorry I used to say those things about myself! It's just so awful. It made me just the same as that punk kid in the spa.
So I encourage you to have a think about the way you self talk about your body. What words do you use to describe yourself and when was the first time you thought about yourself that way? It doesn’t have to be your truth anymore. You don’t have to believe those voices if you don’t want to.
Despite what you may think about yourself, you are perfect just the way you are. You can love your body and still want to make it healthier or more vibrant or show it a little more kindness. You are not broken and do not need to be fixed.
I’ll believe it for you until you’re ready to believe it for yourself. xxx
Are you fed up with self loathing? Would you love to feel happy and healthy in your skin? Check out my awesome Spring Guide to get you started. You deserve to live the most incredible life and not waste any more precious time hating yourself!