October 03, 2023

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Body Prison

When I write, it is so important for me to get you to understand life from different views. Not only do I write from my point of view, but I also try to include everyone. Even if I talk about praying, I tell you to pray to whatever your religion calls for or for you to do whatever your faith or path "Body"calls you to do. Here’s something else that I like to do when I write. I like to ask you to be vulnerable and share your stories with me. As I’ve said several times before, this is your blog, but it’s just written by me. Well, since I ask you to be so open and vulnerable with me, I think that it’s time for me to really share a struggle with you.

I’ve been debating as to whether or not I was going to do this blog for my public viewers or post it in my more private blog or even in my journal. However, after much consideration, I’ve come to the decision that I need to share this. I’m not the only person going through this and I absolutely refuse to sit in silence and let this moment pass me by. I’m just one person trying to make a point, but I hope that I inspire someone with my struggle. Also, please know that since I am only a female, I cannot begin to talk about this from a male point of view. Well, in saying all of that, here goes…

I’ve basically been a thick chick my whole life. I remember sitting in my second grade classroom and a friend of mine telling me, you have big thighs. In my adult life and after thinking about things from my past that has shaped me, that is noted as being the first moment where I thought that something was wrong with me and my


issues begin to take shape, literally.

So, what my classmate didn’t understand is that I was growing. I was in an A cup in the second grade and I really don’t remember ever wearing a training bra. I went from a size under shirt to a full bra. Needless to say, I kept growing and by the time I got to middle school, I had the body of an adult. In fact, I was visiting a relative in the hospital at age 11 and their doctor took one look at me and said, “you must be 16”. My mom nicely told him, “No”. Well, as you guessed it, I just kept growing. My body kept growing, my mind kept growing, my boobs kept growing, and my self-esteem started to grow smaller.

I made it though the awkward middle school years and through everybody having the chance to date their crush while I watched mine date someone else. I think that was the first time that I actually thought that my body was going to keep me from having the guy I wanted. My body was and still is a bit of a strange thing, at least to me it is. I have the boobs that guys want, but I don’t have the body that they would like to come with it. You know what it is they like – the flat stomach and the large boobs. Looking from that direction, I’m only 50% of what they want. Well, let me get to the high school years.

I was comfy freshmen year. I turned my focus onto getting into college and trying to plan the life that I had ahead of me. Yes, I know that it was early, but I’ve always been one to be really focused on my education. By far, tenth grade was my favorite year! I had finally gotten used to being in high school and I was really feeling good about myself and my body was actually starting to fit into itself. Well, I must have been really confident because I decided to try out for varsity cheerleading at the end of my sophomore year of school. I made it!

Of course I was excited – I was a varsity cheerleader for football and basketball season. That was my break out year because I was who I was, the size I was, and I didn’t feel awkward because I had on my school colors. There was nothing like those Friday night lights hitting you and knowing that you had a job to do and that you were doing it with your friends. Well, senior year came. I decided not to cheer again because I just really wanted to buckle down in my advance courses and prepare myself for college because I still had not made a decision as to where I was going. That was also the year that my body decided to grow – again! This time though, I was scared because I was less than a year away from college and I didn’t want to be in a new place and fell awkward about my body.

College is the place where you go to explore, learn, and find your mate. Well, I did two out of the three. It was like my body knew that I was going to college because it flipped out on me and decided that it really wanted to grow. I put on my freshmen 15, but my boobs decided to go to a solid D. Again, had the boobs that the guys wanted, but not the body. However, I wasn’t too concerned because at the time, I was in a relationship – or so I thought. Freshmen year I met someone that would end up becoming a really good friend and that friendship would carry on to third year until he moved to the other side of the country.

Here is where the image of my body started to take its toll. I found myself single (well on the off time of an on and off relationship), I was stressing about my life, and my body was changing again. I lost weight and my body looked out of whack to me. In fact, it scared me for a bit because I didn’t understand why this was happening. And then someone else said something to me that should have been flattering, but it made me sick. This guy told me, “Since you’ve lost weight, your boy better hold on to you before I snatch you up”. It was that moment that I realized that I hated my body. I didn’t know what to do with that emotion because I am generally a happy person. However, those words hit me in the face!

So, back to this person that I met freshmen year. It was 2006 and I was officially single – and so was he. However, this confidence that I once had was gone because I had gained some weight back. I wanted to tell him how I felt, but instead, I let him move to the west coast (only to return a few years later and he be married) without him knowing. Why didn’t I tell him? Well, I just figured that he didn’t want to be seen with someone that looked like me. I mean, even my ex would point other women out while we were together and tell me, “Now that’s sexy”. Believe me, no one that he pointed at looked like me. So, I let him move. We are still friends today and he is back in the area with his wife. I never got the chance to tell him and at this point, I probably never will. I kept my feelings to myself all because of my body.

I won’t lie. My body sent me into a depression. I didn’t like it and no matter how hard I worked out of how much better I ate, I felt like I couldn’t change it. I was aggravated and I started doing things that weren’t healthy. I would not eat and I had become pretty good at fibbing about that. Then when I did eat, I would go vomit. That didn’t last long because it honestly hurt to do that. When I figured out that I was causing more damage than good, I just started eating just because. I was already feeling bad about myself so the extra weight wouldn’t hurt. Besides, if I was bigger, no one would be interested in me. If they were not interested in me, I wouldn’t have to put up with them hurting me. If I didn’t wouldn’t have to put up with them hurting me, well you get the picture.

Let’s fast forward to 2008. I had been hanging out with this guy and I thought that it was really going somewhere because he made me feel OK about my body. Well, for those of you that really know me, you know how that chapter ended. However, I took this confidence away from that relationship. My body had grown again and now it was actually getting harder for me to find bras in the store. I’ve become pretty good at placing my order at the counter though and having to order the 3 basic colors of black, beige, and white.

So, 2011 came and I basically had the same body that I had in 2008, but with bigger boobs. I had just graduated from college in December 2010 and my whole life was and still is ahead of me. I was having a really confident year, or at least I thought I was. I had a huge crush on someone and one of the girls in my clique was telling me to just go talk to him, so I did. We were cool and we would text. However, I quickly figured out that he was just putting on an act when we were around friends. I had sent him a text about something and the next thing I got back from him was, “Dude, this fat chick won’t leave me alone”. I responded by saying, “I don’t think that last text was for me”. He tried endlessly to tell me that text wasn’t about me, but I’m not stupid. Talk about being sent back to a hole.

It got dark very quickly and it stayed that way the whole summer. I would work out and get angry about not seeing the results. I absolutely hated to look in the mirror. I even started to wear my eye make-up more often because I have pretty eyes. I started to wear more items that showed off my legs and I started to wear more shirts that showed off my boobs. I figured I should at least show off the good qualities about my body. However, it didn’t start there. I started getting my hair cut frequently. I tried different hair colors. Basically, I tried to change the very way that I looked. It still wasn’t enough. I still had the same body.

That leads us to today. I’ve actually gotten into a rhythm of doing workouts and can actually see the results. They are not coming as quickly as I would like them to come, but at least I am seeing baby steps. On the other hand, I am still a prisoner in my own body.

I have a crush and I refuse to tell him that I like him because I just can’t imagine that he would want to be seen with someone like me. Again, visually with the flat stomach and big boobs things, I am only 50% ready. When I want to say something to him, I shut down. I’ve moved to a new area and as bad as I want to go out, I know that I cannot even begin to compete with the rest of the beautiful women that fill the room. Grant it, I am an only child, but it would still be nice to have a conversation with someone if I go out instead of feeling like an outcast because of how I look. So for that reason, I stay in – unless I’m invited out of course. Then there are those people that tell me, “You are too pretty to be single”. I smile and say a simple, “thank you”, but it’s immediately followed by a mental thought of being pretty isn’t the problem.

Not to be conceited or anything, but I’ve always considered myself to be cute, but I just cannot seem to turn into the one that lights up a room. What female doesn’t want to feel like that?

What am I doing now? I’m working out, I’ve changed my diet, and I’m changing my vitamin. However, what erases 27 years of feeling like you are worthless because of my body? I’ve come to find that most (not including every one) guys are visual creatures. Most don’t care that I have a civil engineering degree with a minor in math. Most don’t care that I can type fast. Most don’t care that I have this awesome personality. Most don’t care that I have a pretty smile. Most don’t care that I have a very loving and giving heart. Most don’t care that I have no major health issues. Most don’t care that I’m humble. Most don’t care about the things that they cannot see.

Honestly, I’m not sure where I fit in. If some of you reading this are honest with yourself, you don’t know where you fit in either.

What was my point of this? I could have easily told you about body image and quoted you some facts from some websites and given you all of these references. I couldn’t do that because from the plus size angle, I know all about it. Here’s the message that I really want to drive home. If my body image problem started happening in the second grade at age 6 or 7, at what age is it happening now in the age of the size perfect model? We have got to stop letting our children believe that this is how most people look. Now, I believe in a healthy lifestyle and I commend you for having one and for your children having one, but do not under any circumstances make them feel like an outcast because they weigh more than their classmate.

Obesity isn’t killing our kids; it’s the fact that they are getting bullied for being obese! We have to change our thinking. Pay attention to this. The average size female is a size 14. There are people size 12 and smaller doing extreme things to keep their size because they are fat. If they call themselves fat, I wonder what they call the rest of us that are size 16 and up?

The damage is done for me and I cope the best way that I know how. The adult that am I now is better equipped to handle to dirty looks and the taunting and the gross looks that I get from guys (when they are not looking at my boobs). However, what are we doing to prevent our future generation from going through what we went through and are still going through? Something has got to give and something must change. Well, the change begins with us. Instead of tearing down each other, we should be building up each other. We have all come to this world to do the same thing – die. Since that is the outcome, we might as well enjoy the time we have here and live it to the fullest, no matter what size you are.

Until I see more results, I am going to continue to look the way that I do and continue to gradually look in the mirror at myself. On the other hand, I am also going to help a plus size teen understand that being this size is not the end of the world – even if it is just by them reading this blog. They have enough on their plates so why add this struggle to it if you are not going to do it in a positive manner?

Plus size beauties, it’s time to stop hiding. We are just as able and capable are our smaller friends. Yes, I said friends because there are some size 12 and smaller that love us for who and what we are. To those friends out there, I say thank you for not talking about us (at least not to our faces) and thank you for not being ashamed to be seen out in public with us (even when we make you go into the big girl stores to shop).

Well, that’s my story and I’m sure that I will have another story to tell you in 27 more years. Until then, I am going to keep working out until I get to size I want to be (which will still be considered plus size). However, I’m done punishing myself and you should be too! Take those baby steps, look in the mirror, and venture out. Personally, I’ve decided to venture out next month, even if it’s just to the zoo. Let’s stop being prisoners in our own bodies – one step at a time.

Shayla Em

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