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Dear Body

An Open Letter to the Place I Call Home

Dear Body,

I’ve known you for 23 years now and what a ride it’s been. Of those 23 years, I have hated you for 15. I’ve hated you since I was made painfully aware of how obviously you did not fit into society’s mold. You’ve always been an "ugly duckling" of sorts: Lumpier, round, just all around larger than everyone else around you. You’ve always stuck out like a sore thumb and I yearn for the days when I lived so carefree, unaware of how unacceptable society has made the extra space you occupy out to be.

Looking back, it was so unfair how they treated you. Sure, you weren’t tiny, dainty, and petite like all the other little girls, but that didn’t mean you deserved to be treated like a monster. It cuts me deep to look back on old pictures of you as a child, because you look like a normal kid. A little bit larger than most with your height and weight, but perfectly normal. Perfectly normal, yet you were treated by everyone around you as though you were a freak of nature, just because you didn’t look like the other kids. Constant jabs and comments about your weight became harder and harder to brush off. It became my identity: My body is wrong, therefore so am I.

My teenage years were spent working tirelessly to change you, to mold you into something that would be acceptable to the world. In other words: I tried to make you thinner. I starved you, and over exercised you for years. But it felt like no matter how thin I got, or how hard I worked, you were never good enough. I could never feel pride in how you looked. By now it had been so deeply ingrained in my mind that you were unacceptable. This became my truth. No matter how low the scale got, or how much I exercised, or how little I ate, it was never enough. You were never good enough for me, or anyone else. My hatred for you ran so deep.

When my first love came around, it was the first time I felt that it didn’t matter what society thought of your size. It didn’t matter because he loved you just the way you were. Your imperfections didn’t matter. It felt so nice. For once in my life I didn’t worry about how out of place I felt in my own skin. I was comfortable, and with that comfort, I stopped worrying about starving you, and over exercising you. I just let myself live. And with that, inevitably came some weight gain. Which didn’t bother me, and I’m sure was a relief for you to finally feel normal after all these years of me hurting you. But unfortunately because of that weight gain, my partner decided you weren’t attractive anymore. His friends bugged him about being with "the fat girl" when they thought I didn’t notice, and ultimately your weight is what ended the relationship. He tried to play it off and lie that it had nothing to do with that but I saw all the comments from his friends. I knew how they talked about you when they thought I wasn’t looking. It tore me apart. My self-worth was at an all-time low. It made me feel used and unwanted, but more than that, it gave me proof that my weight defined me, and that being heavy meant that I couldn’t be loved.

The idea that higher body fat percentage equates to less love has stuck with me even now, seven years down the road. It always plays in the back of my mind. It has fueled the hatred I have for you. Yes, I’ve matured and realized that weight does not define worth, but I have found it so hard to truly feel that within myself. I think it’s amazing when I see other women owning their bodies at every shape and size, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to feel that way about you. I’ve been traumatized. I can’t even have one full good body image day without thoughts creeping in about how much better everything in my life would be if I had a body that was smaller. If I’m wearing an amazing outfit, I can’t help but think how much better it would look if you were thinner. The trauma of being dumped for my weight broke me. Because of this I allow you to hold me back. I won’t go out and meet new people in fear of how they are going to judge the way you look. I think everyone who looks in my direction thinks you are disgusting. It hurts that I feel so shameful towards you.

Our relationship has never been easy and it continues to be a struggle. I have put you through hell, and for that I am sorry. I find it difficult to love you, but I know I need to. I know something needs to change. I am sick of hating you. I know that I need to embrace you, and that you are truly a gift. You allow me to move, and to feel freely. You have awarded me the ability to do the things that I love. I am sorry that I have allowed other’s perception of you to make me feel such hatred towards you. You deserve love, and to be cared for. It will be a continuous work in progress, but I vow to put in that work. Thank you for holding me up when I am weak and beaten down. I hope that now I can raise you up from the negative place I have put you too.

Sincerely,
Me