This post follows on from this one
, written a while ago…
A few weeks ago, a friend posted a photo on Facebook. It was a group shot of a church youth group camping trip, when I was around 14. It took me a while to find myself in the photo and when I did, I was shocked.
At that point in my life, I had practically no self esteem.
My entire childhood, I was convinced I was fat. My older sister had been born prematurely, and was tiny and skinny. My mother insisted on putting us in “cute” matching outfits for as long as she could get away with it, so that in many of my childhood photos there is a fat one and a thin one; a very clear comparison.
At school I remember PE lessons where I had to wear a uniform that was too small; a skirt that only just fastened, and kept flying open. I hated it, and then hated PE too.
By the time I was in secondary school, I hated my body. I knew I was fat and disgusting. I didn’t eat a great deal, and whenever my mum was out of the house I would go into the living room and prance about doing her exercise videos – always rewinding them to the exact spot she’d left them at afterwards, so that she’d never know what I’d been up to.
When I remember my teenage years, I remember wearing baggy clothes to hide how fat I was. I remember hiding behind my friends when photos were taken. I grew my hair long, and wore it over my face. I compared myself to my beautiful, confident and popular friends, and found myself sorely lacking.
I didn’t think I was morbidly obese or anything; I knew my baggy clothes were doing well at hiding my extra pounds, and that people who didn’t know any better said I looked ok; thin, even. But I had several pounds I needed to lose.
Once I lost that weight, and was as thin and attractive as my friends, I would be happy.
Bearing in mind my image of myself at that time in my life, here is a crop of me in that group photo:
Everyone else in this photo has the expression of the girl behind me. They are all open, happy, smiling. I am the only one in black, the only one with my head down, my body closed in on itself.
Look at how skinny I am! I look at this photo and think, you idiot. I missed out on so many years, convinced I was too fat and ugly to just be comfortable as myself. All that wasted time!
If there is one thing I wish for my daughter, it is that she never has a moment like this, looking back at photos from half a lifetime ago, and wondering why I didn’t see what everyone else did.
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