Thank you, Kayla Barker, for submitting this essay! xox
Growing up fat, hating my body was just as big a part of me as breathing. I would drag myself into the bathroom to get ready for school and frown at the image looking back at me in the mirror. Yep, still fat. Shuffling back to my bedroom, I would put on baggy jeans and a large sweater, hoping that no one would notice how fat I was. Some days, I went so far as to cover my mirrors in black sheets, as looking at myself was just too difficult.
When I turned twenty-one, I had a health scare and needed to lose weight, which was something I had desperately tried to achieve for years through starving myself for days and then binge eating, with no success. My physician put me on a diet and, sure enough, it worked.
I started losing weight, and as the pounds came off, I was sure that I was becoming more accepted into society. When I hit my fifty pound weight-loss mark, I was excited, but for the wrong reasons.
I wasn't excited because I was healthier, or because I was proud of how well I'd been sticking to the strict diet, but because I knew that the blanket of thin privilege was soon going to wrap its warmth around me like a blanket.
I never wanted to be looked at as "that fat girl" ever again. I never wanted to be looked at as if I was some abnormality again. I was excited at the prospect of finally fitting into in a world that was always so painfully quick to remind me of my size.
I got so wrapped up in trying to be thin that I started under-eating and working out eleven hours a week. No more than 1500 calories went into my body. I stopped going to parties. I stopped going out with friends. I stopped living, and throughout this process I never loved myself. Never once did I look in the mirror and was proud of my progress. I was still fat. I was still plus size. The only thing I had done was become less fat, but fat none the less. My self-hated deepened. At my thinnest, I was 215lbs.
After a divorce, I finally crashed. I kept my exercise routine, but it was impossible to starve myself anymore. I gained forty pounds back of the weight I had lost and I remember pulling out of the closet all the clothes that no longer fit me and lying in them, crying. My journey for thin had failed. Forevermore, I was going to be the fat girl. I hated myself. Then, I found the body positive movement.
I remember that the first body positive blog I stumbled across was by popular activist and author The Militant Baker. The content I found specifically was her 2013 post Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls... So I Will. After reading it, I looked at my 260lb frame and actually faced myself for the first time ever.
I looked at my rolls, my thighs, and my eyes, and I realized that- even though I was fat- I was human.
I am human, not a monster, and my weight hasn't taken away my personality, I realized. I deserve to be happy and loved.
I started reaching out to find fat role models on Instagram. I wanted to get inspired by women who loved themselves and posted selfies of their bodies near-nude without shame or apology. That's how I found @SpookyFatBabe and became part of her new body positive Facebook group, Fat Babes! Forever!. As the group grew, so did my love for myself.
Now, as a 300lb person, I love my body. I exercise and compete as a power-lifter. I eat healthy foods, and have to come to accept that the diet industry isn’t real.
Dieting and starving yourself are ways to get quick results, but they're not ways to live. Dieting isn't ever going to be some golden ticket to self-love and a better life.
Now, when I have a donut or a meal out, I don’t come home and cry like I used to, because my value is no longer dependent on me “living skinny”. The better, happier, more positive life came when I found body positivity and started fighting for who I was, not for who society thought I was supposed to be. Life couldn’t be better, and my self-love is untouchable.
+ You can find Kayla on Instagram @BlackDahliaZombie1989 +