Sometimes you have to stop & think does it really matter what others think of you if you are okay with how you look…
“it is solely my responsibility to look as perfect as her, to be as good looking as her, to be just like her.. because being myself sucks”. I was young I didn’t know anything about health & fitness to the same extent as I do now. I was active as a child, outside was my playground & my friends all looked like me; free, smiling and weird. I never stopped to ask myself If I was happy being who I am because they were happy for me. Middle school was innocent til 7th grade came around & everyone paid more attention to their outer appearance, but I was stuck with who I was. Girls were getting ready to wear make up by 8th grade & I had no clue what it was. I knew it made them beautiful, made them popular, made them happier; my mom always told me “you don’t need to wear make-up you are pretty the way you are”. No one seemed to notice I didn’t wear make up because no one made a big deal of it toward me. I was an athlete, that is why I was liked by a lot of people; because I played sports well & people love people who play sports well.
Athletes were the school’s role models, I was proud to be an athlete. It wasn’t until I realized what came with being an athlete at this age & after that made me decide what it meant to be “perfect” & “pretty”. The locker room was my least favorite place because that was place I felt the most vulnerable, the most hidden, the outsider looking in. I hated getting undressed in front of others; I was what people called “skinny” but somehow I still felt fat, ugly, dissatisfied compared to my teammates. They tried to not pay much attention to me, and I was sure to make sure I didn’t pay much attention to them either (If I had, they would make me out to be this weirdo). There was this moment in time where we were all stretching on the floor in the gym, and everyone was in a big circle just talking; one of my fellow teammates made a comment to another fellow teammate “shay has stretch marks on her thighs, (with laughter)” It must have been quite funny because after that they would just smile at me and laugh between each other. I, however did not find it funny because I didn’t know what those meant.. but I wanted to find out.
I took a look at my thighs and seen some marks, but they weren’t all that scary, just some random marks that were hidden if I was standing. I couldn’t understand why it was such a big deal to my teammates; after taking time to figure out what “stretch marks” meant, I realized they weren’t necessarily a good thing. Days after that, I always made sure my shorts were about knee length because I didn’t want others to see them and make fun of me. Once high school started, 9th grade I was more confident so I thought; until once again I was in the locker room and all the anger from how I deceived my body came rushing back, reminding me of my past. The girls in the locker room who were so called “bigger than me” never had anyone point out their flaws, but somehow everyone found a reason to pick on me & yet, everyday I was reminded how “skinny” I was. Skinny was supposed to be a good thing and everyone wanted to be skinny, but everyone who was skinny had a problem with me being skinny. Sucks. Being that student/athlete who constantly has to look at themselves in the mirror to make sure her stomach is flat, her thighs are small, her boobs aren’t oversized, her hair was perfect, her acne was gone. It was exhausting being that person.
No one knew the battle I was fighting, because I kept my issues to myself. 10th grade-11th (Texas), I was “skinny with no ass, skinny with no body, skinny with so swag, skinny with small breast, and toothpick”. Skinny was bad, skinny was funny, skinny was the new fat joke. Being around women who had “ass” and “nice sized breasts” was hell, because they thought they were so much more superior than me. Don’t let me forget to mention how the boys at the time didn’t make shit any easier. Most of them made ignorant comments about what a girl had to have to meet his requirements.. and trust me.. I was far from those requirements. Sure I made friends and had people hit on me, but it was aggravating because I was confused about what the perfect body should be. I liked being skinny because I could fit my clothes, and I enjoyed being skinny because my family is skinny .. but no one knew this.. no one cared. I hated being skinny and having people make jokes about it, it wasn’t funny..because I felt ugly some days in my clothes.
Weight wasn’t my only issue, during basketball season.. I got made fun of because of my limbs. I have long arms, and long legs & in my opinion at the time it helped me to steal the ball during games but others found it funny because they said my arms weren’t proportionate with my body, & it didn’t stop there.. now my neck was “too thick” & that just made everyone’s day when I would be called “thick neck” every game or practice for their entertainment. Life was turning upside down & my mom was still telling me “Shay you are pretty the way you are”, but I never felt pretty, I never was good enough for anyone at this point because my body was a problem to everybody else but my family. 12th grade (colorado), I was given a break, no harassment, no jokes, no laughter. It was just me dealing with me without someone else directing me. I was happy with my body finally, because being skinny was a good thing again and I felt so happy to fit in & be liked for me and not what I looked like.
I didn’t start becoming paranoid again until graduation,( I lived in CO for 4 years) a couple of months before moving back to Ohio; a friend of the family decided to tell me I was a toothpick and needed more meat on my bones. She would ask my mom “Do your kids eat? What do you feed your feeds? Shay needs more meat on her bones” & of course I ate, I ate tons of food; semi healthy. When I moved back, I said “Fuck it” I am done with being skinny and having people make snide comments and ask me if I eat, and give me shit because I don’t have an ass.. ect. I was finished with being me. Not intentionally, but my careless attitude brought on weight, I was eating & exercising none, eating unhealthy foods, eating out instead of cooking, eating when I was bored, eating beyond full sometimes just to finish my meal. It was fun while it lasted, until my mom & other relatives took notice of my weight gain and started making comments on it. I didn’t take them serious because I could careless what anyone thought anymore of me.. of how I looked because no matter what.. I was never good enough to be me. May 2015 (The path changed):
“Ugh, I have gained so much weight from where I used to be (I went from 135 pounds to 176 pounds), what am I going to do”?
- I switched my major to exercise science
- I got a gym membership
- I looked at myself in the mirror and decided I WAS NOT HAPPY WITH MY BODY & I wouldn’t settle.
- I found people who enjoy working out & also got my mom into the gym to workout with me
- I cooked
- I started a 21 day challenge to help get me started on this journey (after the 21 days, I took matters into my own hands)
- I downloaded an app to help me count my calories & keep track of my exercise
- I ran about 3-4 days a week. & hit the gym the opposite days or same day depending on my schedule.
- I stayed positive & shared my goals/achievements with peers
- I gained my confidence back & little by little worked on my self esteem
More or less I started doing things for myself, being strong for myself, thinking about my happiness & where I want to be. I took my life seriously because I didn’t want to end up like some people; alone & angry. It was time for me to feel beautiful. All-in-all I am doing great, I love my body & I enjoy exercising and healthy eating. I want to keep others happy with how they look & feel. I wrote this blog, in hopes it would give you an idea of how serious body shaming can be, how serious we should take our words. If anyone has their own journey they would like to share, feel free to leave it in the comments or email me personally. I am always open to hear all your stories as well. This journey I am on, has been the best life lesson. “Beauty isn’t how you look, it is how you feel” -Shay-lon
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Your Blogger Shay-lon