I hate going to the doctor’s office. No. Hate cannot describe the anxiety and stress that a seemingly simple doctor’s visit inflicts upon my psyche. Yearly check-ups have always resulted in tears, shame, and ultimately a need to shelter myself even further from others. The source of these problems was always my weight.
You see, I’ve always been overweight. Apparently the way that American doctors try to get kids to shape up and lose weight is to scare them and make them hate their own bodies so immensely that they will somehow try to change it. Unfortunately, this method never worked for me. While they were warning me about diseases and complications that my weight would inevitably cause in their eyes, I sat there terrified and beginning to hate the body that I was born with. They told me I must be doing something wrong. I would face the Inquisition of Pediatric Doctors. Are you eating right? Of course, I love fruits and vegetables! Are you exercising? I’m never still; even when I’m sleeping! Are you stressed out? Well, I am now because you’re telling me I’m flawed. Nothing was ever good enough for them. They told me I would struggle. Gym class and social success were two obstacles they often listed for me. They would hypocritically recite what they were trained to every year: “This weight does not make you any less of a person. It does not take away from the great person you are. But, we need to take care of the problem right away.” Thanks, doc. That’s reassuring. I’m not a terrible person, I just have a problem. I’m fat. If I don’t fix it now I will be a social outcast and never make it anywhere in life.
Obviously this was not helpful in any way. I began to hate myself. I would avoid mirrors at all costs because I didn’t want to see that horrible image reflected at me. I tried every diet known to man and even stopped eating certain meals. It wasn’t healthy, but I’d do anything to stop these doctors from tearing me down. Nothing worked.
My body and I have always been in a battle. It was never me. It was what other people saw, but I did not feel like it was mine. I was always great at sports (not so much when it comes to running miles), but I loved being active. I could do almost anything that everyone else was doing, but it still didn’t please my doctors. They repeatedly ran tests on me to make sure my weight was suddenly going to kill me halfway through the year. And, guess what! All of these tests showed that I was perfectly healthy, just had some extra body weight. My blood and cholesterol were perfectly healthy; sometimes even in better shape than my average peers. They worried about my blood pressure though. Somehow they didn’t realize that their body-shaming was the reason my stress and blood pressure sky-rocketed every time I stepped foot in their pastel colored offices. Not to mention the fact that I have a tourniquet phobia (and what do you think a blood pressure cuff is?) Every year I would have to grin and bear it. I struggled to stay calm, brave even, for the doctors that would tell me I was defective. I couldn’t look my mother in the face during these visits. She could see the hurt in my eyes and that is when the tears would break free. No one ever told me that it was okay to love my body as long as I worked to keep it healthy.
It’s still hard to love who I am, to love the person I see in the mirror. I have good and bad days. Often I look at others and wish I could trade bodies. But, I’m finally realizing that I’m being silly. Having a different body will not fix my problems. I have now come to see that even girls with “perfect” figures are unhappy. It’s all about my attitude. I’m growing to love my body because it is beautiful. I wouldn’t be who I am today without my full-figure.
I hope that sharing my story will help others to fully appreciate their beauty. Everyone’s body is different. We all have quirks that we’ve been told are unacceptable, but I want to tell you they are wrong. You are beautiful. You are unique. Your body is amazing. It lives, moves, and is a part of you. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you aren’t good enough. Love yourself and everything else will fall into place. Find whatever makes you happy. Nothing else matters.