20th Television

5 Ways Being The 'Fat Girl' Has Made Me A More Confident Woman

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Being overweight is like wearing bright yellow in a sea of black. It draws attention.

I have been the “big girl” my entire life. It's a physical characteristic that is as descriptive as the color of my eyes or the brownness of my skin. My size, however, has come with a price. My weight has made me the center of jokes and name-calling. It has created a collection of judgment from family, friends and society as a whole. I am a target for body shamers everywhere.

As a child, I would sometimes cry myself to sleep after kids on the bus made fun of the way my shirt fit or how chubby my arms were. I can list a number of situations where I have had to defend my body against people who reduced me to the size of my waistline, but I won't.

Being the “fat girl” has made me a stronger woman. It has also given me an all-access pass to understanding both the world around me and myself. I'm still learning to accept who I am regardless of size, but the knowledge I've gained while on my journey of self-definition has opened my eyes.

Here are five important things I have learned:

1. My worth is more than my physical features.

My body is a wonderland (*Cue John Mayer*), but so is my mind. Sure, I like being called beautiful and mostly everyone appreciates a compliment, but I am more than my physical appearance.

Being body shamed has forced me to see my worth not only externally, but also internally. There is more to my identity than a cute face or thick thighs; I am all of that and more.

2. People will judge me.

Despite how negative comments can be, people are entitled to their own opinions. People will shame me because of my weight. People will try to insult me to get a reaction.

At this point in my life, I understand being judged is not a reflection of who I am as a person, but of other people's inability to see me for more than my body.

3. Self-confidence is crucial.

Sometimes I try on clothes that make my stomach look rounder or show the jiggle in my arms. However, I have learned that if I do not present a positive attitude about myself to others, then no one else will. I have to be my own cheerleader, even on my worst days.

4. Everyone deals with body image issues.

There will always be someone who judges me, even if I were to lose 30 pounds tomorrow. I've never met anyone who is not self-conscious about something. It is not exclusive to overweight people.

Sometimes it's easier to put someone else down than it is to address the issues we have with ourselves. Being the “big girl” has helped me empathize with other people's body struggles, even when they put me down.

5. My body is my business.

I am fortunate to have people who care enough about me to be concerned about my health. I'm well aware of the science that has linked excess weight to health problems. However, my body is not a science experiment.

Growing up, I was often overly concerned about what people thought of my physical appearance. I found the need to tell people about my workout plan or explain my diet to get them to stop asking health-related questions. My weight successes and failures were out in the open for anyone to judge and monitor.

Over time, I learned the value of reclaiming my body. It is my business. I do not have to answer questions about how much I weigh or what size I wear. I am the person who has to live in my skin every day.

Being the “fat girl” has given me a new perspective on myself and on the world in which we live in. My size does not define me. I am a brick house, and no one can knock me over.