Learning to Accept My Body

by: Yvette Zavala

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‘Overweight’

That’s what the BMI calculator on the internet said when I typed in my height and weight when I was 13. I didn’t think too much of it but at the same time I did. It was there when I looked down and saw my belly. It was spilling out of my jeans and I got concerned. At first, my mom told me to not worry much, that I will thin out in two years. Except I didn’t. I don’t really recall being made fun of for my weight by peers in high school. I do remember though at 14 I was diagnosed with scoliosis and because of my weight, it was visible. I remember going on Myspace and seeing someone on someone else’s comments asking what was wrong with my hip (among other mean things). I didn’t know it at the time, but I was getting slowly getting insecure with my body.

It also did not help that my mom would try to convince me to go on these crash diets that her and my sister would do every so often. Flash forward to junior year of high school, our class ring day is coming up and I’m trying to fit into dresses but I’m borderline plus size. It doesn’t help that I’m shorter than the average young lady with extra weight. At this point, I finally gave into my mom’s weight loss crazes: nopalina. Nopalina was basically this flax seed mix that you put in your water; you drink it to clean out your system and lose weight. Instead of eating dinner, I would force myself to drink it to lose a few pounds. I stopped after ring day but started again a year later to fit into my prom dress a little better.

In Fall, I moved out to Boston to begin college. I wound up joining a Quidditch team and started to eat better. I lost a bit of weight but it didn’t seem to significant at the time. It was near the end of my sophomore year that I noticed my pants were getting really big on me. At the time, I was not only doing Quidditch but I was also spending time at the gym from time to time. When I went back home that summer, I weighed myself: I had dropped seven pounds. One afternoon, I was at home sitting on the couch watching Dr. Oz (a guilty pleasure) and he was talking to obese children. He also talked about how dark underarms were a sign of diabetes or something like it. I take a peak under my arms and see some darkness. My mom walks in saying she has cookies for me and I told her that she could have them. From that day forward I started to go running every other day or so. Before I left for Prague, I lost another seven pounds.

I came back home noticing that I didn’t gain weight but that my weight was at a standstill. Junior year rolls around and I decide to visit the nutritionist to guide me. It was around this point, where I started to look at myself in the mirror every day, even after meals to freak out that I had gained weight. As the school year went on, any time I was upset or stressed I would eat very little, thinking that my weight had to do something with it. It got the point where I took laxatives for a week. I was upset at the fact that I wasn’t thin and that it seemed like it would take forever to get to that point.

Turning to the internet for help, I saw that some people on Tumblr would make fitness blogs but that would only make me feel worse to see that these people want to be super thin and would hate on themselves too. I worried when I was moving out to Los Angeles for my final semester that I would be judged. After all, all I have heard about L.A. is that it’s filled with superficial people. It wasn’t until recently I was looking at my jeans and looked at the tag and I just thought: ‘Gee, people really get upset over numbers don’t they?’

It sounds cliche but it’s just a fucking number. A size 0 does not mean you’re a better person or a worse person. I’ve heard it so many times before from adults and forced ads from famous people that try to convince you to just accept your body despite the fact that they themselves are the epitome of perfection. But really, I was getting so wound up by what the BMI calculator told me all those years ago, by my mother and other family members, by society, by the fashion industry, and so on. It’s just a number and my body works well. I’m not dying, I’m breathing. I like eating junk food, being lazy, running, and biking. My body can do those things and I am learning to treat it better. I still have a little belly left but it’s okay. If it stays there it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t make me a worse person or a better person. If it goes away, cool but it still doesn’t really change what’s on the inside. So what if my mom or family or peers don’t like what they see. So what? I don’t need to listen to them because I have me and this well working body that I am trying to treat better. Granted, I still struggle sometimes but it’s progress.

Note: This was re-published with permission, you can view the original and more here.

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