Blogger August McLoughlin is inspiring women to celebrate their beauty this week. That’s a tricky one for me.
One thing I never had to worry about growing up was my weight. Crooked teeth, big lips, dodgy hairdos and being overly loud and opinionated yes, but never my weight.
Until I went to college I was a perfect size 8 (that’s size 2 in American). It was quite comforting really, not to have to worry about something that bothered so may of my peers. To slip into my jeans after Christmas and have them slide on as perfectly as they did before. And yes, I was one of those bitches who ate whatever I wanted and never exercised. Emphasis on the “was” in the previous sentence.
Then I went to college, discovered pizza, chinese food, beer, vodka and daytime television. A good time was had by all, well by me anyway, at the expense of my waistline.
Presumably, my mother noticed after some time that I was carrying a bit of a food baby, but unfortunately she thought it was a real baby [I had also found my first serious boyfriend]. Over the next few years as I consistently put on weight, my mother asked me if I was pregnant so many times that it became a running joke with my friends.
But there really are only so many times you can say, through gritted teeth “No, Mam, I’m just getting fat” before it starts to grate.
Since then, my weight has been up and down – more up than down if truth be told! I’ve found out what it feels like to be called fat.
It is the one aspect of my looks that I get hung up on. And it has to stop. Not only because I have undeniably allowed my own confidence to be eroded by this one aspect of my looks, but because I realise I have a responsibility to other girls.
This was brought home to me during my second year as a teacher, when my six year old student Fatima burst into tears one day because she considers herself fat.
Something is wrong in a world where a beautiful, clever little girl like this is even thinking about her body image like this.
And outside of her own family, I was probably Fatima’s primary female role model while I was her teacher. You walk a difficult line when you’re trying to instil confidence and self-belief in little girls in the Middle East, but I always did my best to make sure they knew how strong and intelligent and beautiful they were.
It broke my heart that she saw herself as fat. I did my best to show her how beautiful she was.
But though of course I never discussed my insecurities with my grade one class, I wasn’t setting Fatima or any of my other little girls a great example, was I?
I’m not that fat. I’m only a little bit fat.
I’m not fat.
I don’t really believe that.
I’m trying to.
I owe it to myself. I owe it to Fatima, and Norhan, and all the other little girls I have had the privilege of teaching. And I’m regularly told I look better now than I did in those size 8 days.
Happy Beauty of a Woman Blogfest ladies – you are beautiful!
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” —Maya Angelou