I’ve always had issues comparing myself with others. I can remember being as small as 5 years old, throwing on my rugrat 2 piece pajamas and seeing my stomach stick out like a pouch in the mirror and hating myself. As much as I hated myself for being “fat”, food was my confidant, it was always there when I needed it.
My parents are fighting? I’ll warm up a processed burrito and watch t.v. in the dark to drown them out. Someone called me ugly at school? I’d line up for seconds in the cafeteria and lie that I lost my lunch ticket. The boy I had a crush on laughed in my face when I tried to talk to him? I asked a “friend”s mom for enchiladas with no shame even though I had ate more than enough at home and school. Food was always the answer… until it wasn’t.
All through elementary school, I was at least 10 to 20 pounds overweight; and for some reason it never bothered my enough to change it, even though I got bullied weekly, until I got to middle school. When I got to middle school, I had had enough of being ugly AND fat. So I decided to pick my struggle and just be ugly. Sixth grade had started and it was very obvious I was not part of the pretty girls. Even from middle school I had had best friends who were twig skinny and short, meanwhile I was 5’4″ and almost 190 pounds. And middle school was no different. I had made friends again who came up to my elbows and could disappear behind my shadow. Suddenly I had the motivation to lose weight at all cost.
Suddenly, I found myself skipping lunch and giving my food away to others, I’d go home and sleep for hours because my body was so fatigued and it helped avoiding eating, I wouldn’t even drink water because I was scared to gain water weight. I would love to feel dehydrated and fatigued as I worked out for hours in my room, because that meant it was working, and when I’d step on the scale for the fourth time that day, the numbers would continue to go down. I’d stare in the mirror and would hate how I could see my hip bones, but my pouch was still there. My favorite was laying down because that’s when my stomach would concave in and it was the flattest. I had wished that’s how it always looked, and I would continue until it did.
This continued all through my middle school career, 3 years, and I was successful in the way that no one caught on to me. Or if they did, I was charming enough to squirm my way out of it. Like when I was constantly fainting, and after tests came back, I could blame it on my iron deficient anemia, instead of the fact that I was consuming less than 500 calories a day. I also continued to get attention from boys, with a combination of weight loss and braces, it was easy for them ignore my acne and five head. However, that just meant that I had to continually get attention from them, because the Lord knows I didn’t have enough love for myself to get me through each day. Of course the attention wasn’t positive either, they’d ignore my interests and feeling just to be able to feel me up and tell me how hot I was and how thin my waist was and how they’d love to see it bare. And as soon as they lost interest, I’d cut out more food and liquids to attract the next one.
I’m now in my early twenties, and I have to constantly be careful to not eat too much or too little. To find balance in my life and love for myself through my diet. I have to remember not to restrain food from myself when my family and my culture yell “gorda” (“fatty”) and laugh from across the room, and not to eat too much when I feel alone and sad after a bad day. I have to force myself to drink a gallon of water a day, because my body is used to and go on for weeks at a time dehydrated from the conditioning I put it through in my teen years. I have to remember to laugh and love my pouch when fat jokes are thrown at me even though I have healthily lost more than 40 pounds.
I struggle everyday, and that is not an exaggeration, to remember to love myself and my pouch and my thunder thighs and my muffin top; even when I’m not reminded by men, or my family, because at the end of the day I have so much more to offer than my body. And I don’t faint anymore, and I have the energy to run for an hour and still eat and I don’t have to stare and my stomach to be able to go to sleep, and I haven’t stepped on the scale in a year and that’s okay. I’m not fully recovered, but I’m in a damn near better spot than I was 10 years ago.