Friday, June 19, 2009

Own It, Love It!

These are the new buttons being handed out in goodie bags for Full Figure Fashion Week. What's the story behind the phrase?

I was never a skinny person. I think the only time I was thin, I was four years old. That's not to say I was fat either. I was healthy and I was ok with me until 3rd grade. In 3rd grade, the school nurse performed basic physicals for everyone in my class. After weighing me, she rushed to call my mother in front of the class and announced to my mother that she needed to put me on a diet right away because I was overweight. For my height and age I should have weighed 80 pounds. What did I weigh?

82 pounds...pause

2 pounds demanded a call to my mother and an announcement in front of the whole class that I was fat and needed to lose weight. I was already very shy because I had just started at a new school. Coupled with the fact that I was smart and nerdy, I was a prime target for bullies. I heard the word "fat" so much that year I was convinced I was big as a house. And thus began my nine year battle with insecurity about my weight.

The summer after 3rd grade, we went down south to visit my relatives. I heard whispers that maybe being outside would help me lose the two pounds. I came home six pounds heavier. The doctor would put me on a diet and I would only gain more weight no matter how devoted I was to the plan and exercise. I did the It Figures! workout with Charlene Prickett on Lifetime every day in sixth grade. Still no significant weight loss. I trimmed up a little but I was round. Between the ages of ten and twelve, I was round. Chubby cheeks and all. And despite how they paint it, shopping in Pretty Plus in Sears does not make you feel pretty when none of your friends shop there.

And then seventh grade came and I started to develop and the weight started to even out...but when I looked in the mirror, I still saw fat. I look at pictures from high school and though I was bigger than my friends, I wasn't as big as I visualized in my head but no one could tell me different. I couldn't see the real me.

The end of my senior year I decided I couldn't start college feeling the same way. For the past two years, I had been borrowing this old, decrepit book from the library called the Seventeen Magazine Guide for Girls or something like that. It was from the 1960s but it had an interesting slant to it. In the section on body image, it had this exercise where you stand in front of the mirror without clothes and pick 10 things you like about the way you look. One day when I was alone in the house, I decided to take a crack at it.

I took off my clothes and stood in the mirror and looked at myself. I mean really looked at myself. How many of us really look at our bodies? Sure we look in the mirror everyday as we get ready for our day but do we really look beyond a cursory glance?

That day I discovered myself. As I went along I found out more than 10 things I actually liked about me. From the mundane to the significant, there was so much to like. My smile, my eyes, the curve of my back, my flat belly, my skintone, etc, etc, etc.

I didn't look at myself with a critical eye. I looked at myself with loving eyes and I owned myself with its flaws and its beauty. That's a big deal especially after 9 years of self-doubt. That's a big deal for an 18 year old and its a big deal as I find myself revisiting the exercise as a 36 year old.

I'm alot heavier than I was as an 18 year old but I still look in the mirror and see me like I saw myself for the first time at 18...a beautiful woman. Though some days I might not feel as pretty or slim as other days, I own who I am at this moment and love who I am.

Whether you're fat, skinny, young, old, etc, it's so important to find peace and love yourself. I'm not saying stop trying to lose/gain weight or diet or take care of yourself, dress well, etc. I'm saying to love who you are...right now today.

So I challenge you to take off your clothes, stand in front of that mirror, and take that first look. Maybe you will discover yourself too.

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