I’ll never forget that one time when my husband and I were at Target, and I noticed this lady. She was about my size, but she was rocking a cute maxi dress and wedges. Her hair was fixed, cute make-up and was just simply gorgeous to me. I’m sure she was thinking…I don’t care about what size this dress is…I’m going to just rock what I got. I have to admit, I was super jealous.
I’ve always had self-image issues. I’ll never forget the day when I wore my cheerleading uniform for spirit day, and overhearing a few people in social studies say whale jokes about me in my uniform. I’m not sure if that started my issues with the way that I looked, but comments like that never helped. In middle school, I also had a serious bully who was pretty popular, and I really think her goal in school was to make me miserable…she won. She made my school years miserable, and she knew it. She knew exactly what to say to make me feel worthless…to make me tear up. You know that pain in your gut that you get when you’re on the verge of crying, but you want to hold back? That. That just…sucks. One time, two of the buses had to combine passengers since they couldn’t find a sub and everyone was sitting three to a seat. As a larger gal, I was on the edge, with my butt hanging over. All it took was one big turn, and I fell out of my seat. I was so embarrassed, and to add insult to injury, as people were laughing, one guy (who was good friends with said bully) walked up to me, told me to go back to the ocean and spit on me.
I don’t think I ever told my parents what happened that day. I cried on the walk home from the bus and took a minute to hide the tears so my parents/siblings wouldn’t notice. That night, when my Mom was washing a load of clothes, I threw the jacket in to make sure no one in the house saw what happened.
High school bullying wasn’t as harsh, but my luck with boys was zilch. I’d watch my friends go to dances with guys, have boyfriends and I was just so bummed. My junior year prom date left me the majority of the prom to hang out with another girl. Thankfully, my senior year prom date, who was a dear friend, stuck with me….glitter shedding dress and all.
All of those experiences in school (except senior prom, of course), led me to the conclusion of believing if people don’t notice me, they won’t make fun of me. Or perhaps if I just don’t look at someone’s reaction to me, that would be for the best. In high school, I just started staring at the ground when I walked. I didn’t care how I looked, because if I tried to get into make-up or fixing my hair, people would notice me, which is NOT what I wanted at all.
I carried myself that way in college a good bit…doing this for years made me very shy and intimidated to approach others. To this day, I would prefer to be alone than in a group of people socializing. I mean, don’t get me wrong…I love to talk to others and hang out, but I always have this constant worry in my head about what people think of me. If I’m at a store and notice someone staring at me, I wonder if they’re just disgusted by what they see. I know this is terrible, but it’s just how I am.
Since I started losing weight, I thought that would all disappear. I’d have a pep in my step or feel beautiful or…just something. I don’t. I still worry that people see a fat girl, and I worry about what they think. If I have a bag of candy in my cart, do people judge me? If I order something fried at a restaurant, are people going to stare at me? This past weekend, I went with my friend to a dress fitting and I was venting about how dress companies charge extra for more length (tall girl problems) and being plus sized. The guy doing alterations seemed surprised that I was plus size, and for a moment, I was excited, but that night in the mirror, I stared at all of my flaws and started bashing myself again.
It’s so strange to me, and I honestly wonder if people see what I see. I still see every fat roll, and while things are getting smaller, my overall shape seems the same. I still feel like that 300 lb. girl from last January. I’m surprised by my progress, and I’m not afraid to share it because it’s cool to see, but I still carry myself the way I did before. It’s really hard to change the way that I feel about myself, and while I really want to feel better about the way that I look, I’m just not sure if that will happen anytime soon. I really hope so, though.
Is there anyone out there who feels the same way?
Those bullies suck. I’m sorry you feel this way and really hope you know how awesome you are. Seriously. I know we’ve never met and are only friends online… but I think this lets me see the true you. And that girl? Is pretty great. 🙂
This hurts my heart. I am so sorry you ever had to deal with those comments and that feeling in your gut – I remember it, too. I honestly wasn’t ever overweight growing up, but I always thought I was and my younger brother knew it. He was a typical boy and would make comments about me being fat when he was mad at me because he knew it was what would get me. In high school, I was MAYBE 10-15 lbs overweight my senior year and a guy commented on my best friend’s picture on Facebook with me asking when I was due. Humiliating. Some days I still wonder if people like that (and the ones who were so hurtful to you) think back on it and feel awful and guilty. I sure hope so.
I really think your body changes way faster than your mind/mentality. I mean, when I’d thought the way I did about myself my entire life, it was hard to change that when I was finally at a healthy weight and in shape. I’m completely confident and happy with myself now most days, though, so I truly believe you’ll get there, too. It just takes time and patience with yourself – And the realization that you’ll still have bad/’fat’ days and might beat yourself up over it. But gradually those days will become fewer and further between and your body image will change and you’ll look back at pictures and think, ‘Wow. I should be so proud of myself!’
You are so awesome, and I’m so inspired by you!
I think everybody, at some time, feels that people are staring at them or silently judging them. But, I have learned that people are actually really self-involved and are not wasting their time judging the contents of a stranger’s grocery cart- they are dealing with their own personal crazies. And if they ARE judging you- EW! Creepy 🙂 It’s HARD to give up the self-doubt, but you are doing great!
If it makes you feel any better, I also get these crazy feelings like people are judging me when they stare at me. I don’t think either of us are right, people are usually WAY more interested in worrying about what other people are thinking about themselves than anything else.
BUT I think you are awesome. Even though we’ve never met, I know you are because that just shines out through your posts and social media stuff.
You are working so hard to get to a healthy place physically, it might be time to start working on getting there emotionally, too. Buy yourself some pretty new makeup, learn how to style your hair in a new way from a pinterest tutorial. Girl, you deserve to take some time to look good and stand out — you’ve earned it! And the only thing people are going to think is just what you thought about that woman in Target: I love how great she looks and how confident she is in herself. Do it, lady. I know you can!
I think EVERYONE struggles with these issues (which is not to diminish your struggle — just to offer some camaraderie in it!). I keep trying to manually override my natural inclination to assume someone is seeing my flaws by realizing that I spend about 50x more time worrying about others’ thoughts of me than I do forming judgments on other people. I took a Zumba class and was so nervous to look dorky. About 2/3 of the way through I realized I wasn’t looking at anyone else in the mirror, so it stands to reason that no one else was looking at me, too.
Truthfully, I am surprised to hear you write about yourself this way, because you have such an energetic, positive, motivational presence online. I am so sorry for all the hurt you went through in previous chapters of your life, and I just wanted to say AGAIN that I am beyond impressed by your accomplishments, weight loss and otherwise!
Lisa R. says
Thank you! Thank you so much for putting yourself out there like this. I have experienced some of the exact same experiences as you growing up. I was always the biggest girl and I had to deal with a lot of bullying because of it. I also wonder if people are judging me in my adult life.
I have been keeping track of your journey over the last year and you inspire me! I have been on my own journey over the last few months and have also started to slowly make progress. I am so close to hitting that 299 mark which is a big deal for me. Seeing your progress is something that reminds me that it can be done. I want you to know that not only are you gaining a healthier you but you are also inspiring other women who are very much like you. Again, THANK YOU!!
I was bullied as well, but not for my weight. In middle school I was bullied because I had not gone through puberty yet. I developed pretty late around 13-14 so kids in my school started teasing me and calling be a lesbian, which turned into a joke about me being a truck driver. It was awful.
I am not exactly sure where my body issues came from but I think part of it is that I lived in Asia in high school. I am a larger framed american person who did NOT have a weight issue at that time, but I sure thought I did. I would hear through the grape vine about popular girls at school telling people I was fat. I also had to deal with people making comments and staring at me on the street. That happened because I’m American, tall, blonde etc… That was all rough on my self esteem.
I came out of my shell in college and continued to do so in my twenties but it hasn’t been easy. All through college and my twenties I have gained weight and am just now taking healthy steps to lose weight.
Long post, but please know that I think you are great! Following you on MFP, your blog and twitter has been so so inspiring to me. At this point I think if someone is staring at you it has to be because you are so awesome and look great! 🙂
Take some time to invest in yourself the next few months. Maybe that means a pedicure or spa time to relax. You could also try challenging yourself by doing something a bit out of your comfort zone clothing wise like if you don’t wear skirts, try buying and wearing a sassy new skirt!
I feel that way.
I was bullied a lot mainly about my “big butt” and my zits, and how tall I was. I didn’t have a big butt by the way, My body is just curvy, and my butt apparently stuck out more than other people’s.
The thing about kid bullies though, is that they’ll make fun of you for anything. If it wasn’t your weight, it’d be some other problem. The brand of your pants. Your hair style. Whatever.
But knowing this… even an adult, who still has zits and is tall and has a “big butt”, I’ve been a size 6 and below 120 lbs, and I’ve been a size 12 (pushing 14). All “normal” sizes, yet I felt self conscious at any size and any way that I look. Like you, hoping no one would notice me. Even now, as a whale of a pregnant woman, most of my maternity clothes are black and brown and baggy and I was pretty sad when I realized I could no longer zip up my winter coat to keep people from noticing my big belly.
It’s for sure a mental thing. Even though I DO see all my flaws in the mirror, I know in my mind that I really do not look bad at all. But the emotional side of me can’t let those flaws go, can’t let anyone see them, can’t take any chances with fashion for fear I’ll look like a fool.
I don’t know how to get a better body image. Some people say you need to give yourself a compliment every day. Others say you need to pamper yourself. Fixing the physical helps, but won’t fix the mental. But my hope for you is that you’ll see how strong you are for doing all you have, and all you will do – that has to be empowering. I’ve been watching your weight loss with delight – you’ve come so far and had SO MUCH positive change, and I can’t wait to see what’s ahead for you!
Man, I feel for you!!! I STILL feel that way even though I’m now a size 12. I still see the fat girl in the mirror and am constantly bashing myself if I eat some ice cream or maybe gain a pound. It sucks and idk If I’ll ever be able to truly accept myself and the weight that I’ve lost. I hate being so self-conscious all the time!!! Maybe we need to condition our minds like we condition our bodies…
Ugh, I’ve always been overweight. For as long as I can remember I’ve never felt skinny, I’ve always compared myself to my skinnier friends (most my friends have always been skinnier than me). Sometimes I look in the mirror and think, “Hey you look cute/skinnier/hott/pretty today!” and then I walk by a mirror later and think, “Eww, is that what I really look like.” It’s so frustrating! I don’t think I’ll ever truly be comfortable in my skin and happy with my size.
I am SO SORRY you were bullied in school, I want to go back in time and tell those people off for you.
I also have to say how incredibly proud I am for you for your weight loss efforts. I’ve been trying to talk myself into running for years, but haven’t been able to, and I see you running in the heat and know I need to get off my butt. You’re in inspiration!
This makes me sad but happens so often. It’s why I talk so much about positive self image on my blog at any size!
You noticed that girl because she owned it, she celebrated who she was at that moment on time.
I have been everything from a 4 to a 26 and the only thing it changes is the number on the pants. I felt the same inside. Fortunatly for me I have spent the last 15 years being happy in my body knowing that size is not the key to my happiness.
So many people feel that once they are thin then all these amazing things happen. Not so. You are just thinner. Start doing all the things you want to do when you are thin now.
kimberly michelle says
Amy … I just have to tell you that you’re such an absolute delight and so much fun in person. And that when I mentioned your name in professional conversation, everyone knew who you were and instantly said how lovely and sweet of a person you were, along with compliments on your work.
Self-image and reflection and those evil demons can haunt us as long as we let them, and every time I look in the mirror it’s a question of who is going to win. But the only person losing is me if I let those thoughts invade… and life is just too short to try and read people’s minds about my size or appearance.
You’re hilarious and sweet and a wonderful person, with an amazing drive for success!