You'll Probably Never Get Your High School Body Back, And That's Totally OK

by Mila Olumogba
Danil Nevsky

Trust me, I am the number one perpetrator of fantasizing about my high school body. In fact, for years, I kept a picture of myself in a bikini from my graduation trip as my “motivation photo.” I posted said photo on my fridge door as a way to guilt myself out of eating anything unhealthy or unnecessary.

Every time I walked into the kitchen, I would see this photo. It started to feel like it was taunting me and saying, “Look at what you've done to us. Our body was bangin', and now, well…”

I eventually took the photo down. Why? Because I realized it was not serving its purpose of motivating me. Rather, it was perpetuating my inner dialogue of self-hate. I realized the photo had taken on a life of its own, and the person in the image wasn't even me. I came to terms with the fact that high school mini me was not helping me deal with my current body image issues.

In fact, high school mini me was in the exact same headspace then as I was on the day I took the photo down. As I was clutching the picture in my hand (wanting to burn it, of course), I was brought back to that exact moment when I was standing by the pool in sunny Cancun 10 years prior. I was telling my then-boyfriend not to snap the photo. I was insecure, I felt fat and I most certainly didn't want any photographic evidence of myself half-naked.

Here is the irony: I was about 50 pounds lighter at the time, and I still felt fat. It was in that moment that I realized this had nothing to do with what I actually looked like, or even getting my high school body back. This had everything to do with me dealing with my body image, and working on channelling this “self-love” idea I kept hearing so much about.

“But, I don't actually hate myself,” I thought. I might not have really hated myself, but I certainly was treating myself as if I did. The thing is, we have so many thoughts that go through our heads on any given day that we don't always realize just how often we're saying disparaging things to ourselves. We tell ourselves things we would never say to our worst enemies.

Yet, we let these seemingly insignificant thoughts continuously enter our minds, and they end up damaging our self-worth. Little by little, we nurture these negative body image seedlings, and then we water them with more hurtful prose. Eventually, they flower into complete beings full of self-hate.

So no, I may never get my high school body back, and that is beautiful for so many reasons. My body has carried me through so much, and it has accumulated many battle scars from the last decade. I wouldn't change that for anything.

My body and all of its physical flaws remind me of who I really am and the strength I have within me. I might have some extra fat around my stomach, but it reminds me that I carried a child I never got to meet. I might have a bigger butt, but it reminds me I am a woman now. I am a woman whose husband loves her curves. I might have thicker thighs, but they remind me of all the late nights I spent stress eating when I was writing my master's thesis.

I am not the person I was in high school, so why should my body be the same? I have changed, and so has my body. I will always commit myself to maintaining my health both physically and mentally, but the most important thing is accepting myself as I am, thick thighs and all.