Yeah… me neither. And you know what? I don’t think I’ve ever been that size. That’s right… I skipped it. I literally went from like a size 14 in girls to a size 8 in women’s overnight. Or that’s what it felt like…
The first time I ever even thought twice about my size was in my 2nd grade class. A bunch of us kids were instructed to all sit down in a circle for an activity. We sat down, and a kid who I won’t name said, “Whoa! You have fat legs!”
Um… what? I thought I was like everyone else?! Heart. Sunk.
From that moment on, I would constantly question my mom about my weight. I remember waiting for the school bus and crying about my outfit. My mom asked me why, and I told her because I felt fat.
Are you kidding me? It’s hard to believe that one foolish kids’ comment could have such an impact on my life. But it did.
Throughout elementary school, we had the coolest babysitter ever and I wanted to be her when I grew up. One day, I realized her shorts were a size smaller than mine and she was 10 years older than me. Ouch. That realization was devastating to me.
The next period of life that stands out to me is in middle school. This is when they started weighing and measuring everyone in PE class. I weighed 135 pounds in 7th grade and thought I was huge.
This is around the time that I started being exposed to a lot of media and I remember seeing music videos of Mariah Carey and thinking “it’s okay, Ashley, maybe when you grow up you will lose the baby fat and look like her.” Whoa. That’s some serious self dis-respect at such a young age, don’t you think?
In 8th grade, I discovered Billy Blanks Tae-Bo and would secretly work out in my bedroom. My mom caught me a few times, and always gave me positive reinforcement which I still appreciate. Sure, it was healthy to do something active. But I was doing it for the wrong reasons… I wanted to be thin. I wanted to fit in with what society said was beautiful.
Fast forward to high school… guys started referring to me as “thick”, which was better than hearing the words “fat”… and to be honest, I didn’t hate my body. I just wanted to be able to fit into the cute clothes my friends were wearing. I didn’t want to be an outcast. I wanted to be viewed as beautiful. And I didn’t feel that way, because I wasn’t the standard.
In 10th grade, I put myself on a diet. I would eat Chocolate Cookie Dough Slim Fast bars for lunch and I was on the weight watchers program. Sure, I saw results. I felt better. But WHY was I doing this? WHY was I so secretly obsessed with changing my body at such a young age? I guess you could blame the media, or the mean kids who bullied me because I was bigger than them. But at the end of the day, you’re in charge of what you do with your life and what you make of yourself. I can’t blame anyone.
My point is this: I spent my whole childhood trying to be something I wasn’t. Don’t be like me. Love yourself the way you are. You don’t need to be held to any sort of standard.
Whether or not you’re big or small, or if you have body image issues or not… I beg of you: be nice, and love yourself. You never know what someone is going through on the inside, and what you say could impact someone forever.
My hope and prayer to the generations that come after me is that no matter what size or shape you are, that you still feel beautiful. This is why I fight for body positivity. Because when I hear a 12 year old girl call herself “fat and ugly,” it breaks my heart. No, you’re not fat and ugly. You are beautiful.
By the way, I realized in my late 20’s that no matter how “thin” I got, I would never be smaller than a size 10 because of my body frame. So cut yourself some slack. Stop worrying about what size you are. I’m a 14-16 now, and when I’m really taking care of my health sometimes I can squeeze into a 12.
Be you, and be good to yourself.
xoxo, Ashley Dorough