What Does 10 Years Change?

1998

I would, by the end of the year, turn 18; graduate high school as Salutatorian; be accepted at a top college for my Bachelors…and work my way even deeper into body image issues. 

Self-loathing.  Just KNOWING that I was a monstrous, gawky, geeky, over-sized creature, taking up WAY too much space.  Knowing that only by over-achieving in studies and extra-curricular activities (and paying homage to the Diet Gods) could I ever, in any way, make a token compensation to counter my greedy manner of having excess mass; of being TOO FAT. 

Desperate to get slimmer before entering college and horrifying a NEW set of people with my unwieldy size.  Every day was a new low of self-despair if the scale didn’t show a lower number or the abs didn’t ache from the previous night’s exercises.  Every day brought new shame as I watched those much smaller saunter by in tinier, cuter clothes.

This is what I felt was so awkward; so unbearably large and unwieldy.  This is the body that I hated, every day, for not being small enough, lithe enough, svelte enough, invisible enough.  The body I abused and punished, every waking moment, for struggling to just be what it was.

Why didn't anyone TELL me how CUTE I was?!?!?

Why didn't anyone TELL me I was CUTE?!?!

 2008

By the end of the year I will have turned 28.  I will have started my first class towards my Masters degree.  I have a loving husband.  I play trumpet in a small but fun little band.  I work two jobs that I enjoy.  I belly dance at nursing homes just because it feels great.  And I’ve finally stopped HATING my body.  It has grown.  It has changed.  And I am learning to love it no matter what. 
 
But I still can’t help but wonder; if someone HAD told me I was cute (honestly enough and often enough); how much SOONER would I have stopped that self loathing?  How much sooner would I have moved my attention, my energies, into hobbies and productive activities that I LOVED instead of dieting and activities that I hated?!
 
No one deserves to go through youth or their entire life for that matter, hating what they look like.  We change.  We age.  Our bodies alter in ways that are always surprising.  Yet I feel that if for just a moment we STOPPED hating our bodies for what they were and started to ACCEPT them for what they allow us to DO; then maybe there would be a lot more energy in this world put into some pretty amazing places.
 
Oh, and for the record, you are INCREDIBLY cute.  As you are.  Right now.  Yes, you are.  And so am I.  Deal with it, and put those self-hating (or others-hating!) energies to better use.

I AM cute!

I AM cute!

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6 thoughts on “What Does 10 Years Change?

  1. It is possible that no one told you you were cute; but my eating disordered friends (I have a few) just plain COULD NOT HEAR IT when I told them. You can tell someone they are beautiful and cute and have gorgeous figure til you are blue in the face for years on end. If they don’t believe it or aren’t open to the idea that it might be true, they totally CAN NOT HEAR IT or CAN NOT PROCESS IT or something. They hear it as mocking or lies.

    BTW, You ARE cute! ANd you WERE cute tooo!

  2. KMT that is a good point. I’m not sure if I WOULD have heard and taken to heart such comments in my youth…maybe due to just how often I DID hear the contrary (from family, from “friends” from strangers…). Just goes to show, I think, how quickly a negative comment can take root; and just how MANY positive comments can still hardly make a dent in that one negative one….

  3. This spring I was at a beach party. There was a pair of young siblings – a boy and a girl – who were just pre-adolescent. As is to be expected with siblings, they spent half their time playing together and the other half squabbling nastily.

    When the boy told the girl that she was going to spend her life being a fat, ugly loser who had to diet all the time, I told him it was time to back off and shut up. I then turned to the girl and said ‘you know you’re beautiful just the way you are, right?’

    Okay, they both looked at me like I was from Mars. They’ve probably both forgotten the weird lady who dared to interrupt their argument, but at least I felt like I’d done something to start slowly rewiring the world. Did it help? Maybe not. But I’m going to keep talking to girls and letting them know someone thinks they’re beautiful no matter what they weigh or what color their skin is or how they choose to cut their hair.

    I look at the beautiful girl you were and grieve for her inability to see herself. I look at the beautiful woman you are and rejoice that you discovered the truth.

  4. Twistie that story is great though. I kinda wish some stranger HAD randomly told me that kind of thing. Because those are the events that always tend to come back to you down the road. I am going to try to speak up more as well. Everyone deserves to know they are lovely people!

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