You of all people know that I have had a love/ hate relationship with my body for as long as I could remember. I love the fact that, tired or sick, my body never lets me down, even though I feel that I have let it down on many occasions.
It started when I was younger. Fairy tales told me to ask, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” I never asked because I was afraid of the answer. Even at a young age, I knew the answer was not me.
Ever since I was young, I have had a weight issue. I thought it would get better as I got older. I was sure that I would “grow into my body,” like everyone claimed I would.
The body shaming started early and came from family. I grew up with my thinner sister and brother and was raised by my grandparents. Relatives would visit, and with love, praise everyone but me. I was told, “You are cute but when are you going to lose that baby fat?”
Even though I was the youngest of three, I was also the largest of three. I never had to worry about hand-me-down clothes because I couldn’t fit into my sister’s clothes, not even her socks. It made me feel bad that my grandparents always had to buy me new clothes.
One day I heard a relative say, “I can see why everyone is skinny, she is eating all their food.” I ate my hurt with food. Food was my comfort and my friend.
This was the beginning of self hate and body hate that lasted almost 60 years. I blamed every bad thing that occurred in my life on my body and my size.
If I didn’t have a boyfriend, it was because I was too big. I did aerobics, walking, swimming, all to lose weight. I had to look like everyone else. I didn’t understand that when men called me “juicy booty Jayne” they were giving me a compliment. When people would tell men I was dating “you are dating a thick girl,” I went on a crash diet to lose weight. I dressed in black to look slimmer and wore clothes two sizes too big to cover the “fat.”
Then someone asked me, “Why do you wear your clothes so big? I really wish you would wear clothes that fit you.” I could not understand why they were saying this. My clothes fit perfectly. Even my son would tell me to stop wearing clothes that were so loose and baggy.
One day, I got cast in a play and went with a fellow castmate to buy some “costumes.” I picked up a dress in my size. Everyone in the store laughed, including my friend. I put the dress down and picked up a size larger. My friend said, “Girl, quit playing and go get your right size.”
I was totally confused because I did get my “right size.” With tears in my eyes, I said “it is my size. I am fat.” Silence fell upon the store. The sales person gave me a hug and cried, directing me toward a more snugly fitting size. “You do not wear that size dear. You are curvy and sexy. I wish I had your body.”
I was in shock. My body, she must be trying to make a sale. I knew I could not fit the dress, but to shut everyone up I tried it on. I was surprised that it fit, and I looked good, but it was too short. My legs were too big.
I stepped out of the dressing room. Gasps were heard throughout the store. I started to cry. “I told you I would look bad in this dress,” I said.
My friend took my hand and said, “You look beautiful. I have never seen this dress look that good. It fits you perfectly.” Still crying, I said, “My legs are too big and it is too tight around my breast.” Laughing, she said, “It fits. You are not used to wearing clothes that fit.”
As I started to look at myself, I could hear women in the store saying things. I was ready for the “fat jokes” that never came. Instead, I heard, “I wish I had legs like that!” “I can’t buy that dress, I would not look that good in it.” “Girl, you’re wearing that dress!” “Don’t go out and hurt nobody!” “She’s gonna steal somebody’s man tonight.”
I could not believe they were saying that about ME!
In the car after buying the dress, my friend said, “Do you know I would kill to have legs like yours? Women are getting fat put in their butts for a butt like yours.”
“Then why do people say, ‘You are thicker then a snicker’?” I asked.
She laughed, replying, “That is a complement. You got it going on, girl! Next week we are going to get you some clothes that fit.”
After going on a shopping spree for clothes that fit, I began to see myself in a new light. I had to learn listen to people who say, “I love doing your make-up, your skin is so beautiful. You have natural beauty.”
I love looking in the mirror now. I love my hair, my legs, my curves and everything about me. The way my hair frames my face and the way my nose turns up when I laugh. I love my legs and butt, especially when my friends ask if I could share my butt and legs. It makes me laugh.
I love me…60 years later. Every curve and spot are where they are supposed to be. Now I am doing plays, hair shows, concerts, movies and fashion shows. After all, the world needs to see all of this beauty, live and in living color!
You are fabulous, I am fabulous. Thanks, self, for listening.
Fabulously Loving Me, Finally