I was skin and bones for most of my life. Then, I hit college. I was a size double zero until my freshman year at Spelman College, crept to a size 2 around my sophomore year and before I knew it, I was a size 6 during the last year of my college experience.
Today, I am a size 9; weighing in at 135 lbs at 5’1″ and I feel like I’m carrying three children in all parts of my body. See: this is an example of my grandiose self-hate talk. While most people may look at me and see an average-sized woman, this is a daily struggle of mine as someone who struggles from body dysmorphia.
Body Dysmorphia is defined as a mental health disorder (MayoClinic). That means for people like me — we are fixated on a flaw that defines our reality. This can be the tiniest of flaws, which may be invisible to others, but we wholeheartedly believe it is how we are seen by the world.
I’ve never really been comfortable in my own skin, but my negative self-talk really started last year when I realized I couldn’t fit my favorite pair of boyfriend jeans anymore. No one else mentioned my weight, but as someone who was carrying the extra pounds, it was glaring to me.
“I look disgusting.”
I began receiving comments about my butt and thigh areas (which I inherited from my mother). Never before had I heard so many comments about how “huge” my butt was. I couldn’t tell whether they were joking or not. Since I never was a fan of commenting on someone else’s body parts in a way that makes them feel like a circus animal, I felt insecure. I’m not entertained by it and you shouldn’t be either.
“You’re skinny, so you wouldn’t know what I’m talking about,” my sister scolded me one day while openly talking about her struggle to lose weight. Before I could respond, my auntie interjected. “D’Shonda’s not skinny.”
And this is just the most recent example of a family member being vocal about my weight gain. It’s just something we seem to do in Black families. Little do they know, I’ve been feeling this way about myself every morning when I wake up and look at myself in the mirror.
Every morning I criticize the way I look down to how chubby my cheeks are. I’ll have moments when I strip in front of my full body mirror, but then after a while I’ll begin to nitpick at every fiber of my being.
Why are my thighs so big? They’re not proportionate to my legs. My stomach is fake flat? There’s no way I’m only 135 lbs. The scale is clearly lying to make me feel better.
There’s a happy ending to this story. Well, not ending — but a work-in-progress. I’ve really taken this quarantine to do some self-reflection on what beauty means to me. I’ve been practicing what I preach about body positivity. While I am at my heaviest weight, I’m starting to love every bit of me. I’m getting thicker and growing accustomed to my body as is. I’m not unhealthy, I work out, I have a decent diet that could be better and my body is perfect the way it is. Sure there are things I can fix, but I want to fix and adjust them because it’s something I want to do, not because of the noise that travels out of other people’s mouths and into my subconscious.
To those who have ever unnecessarily shared negative thoughts about my body or anyone else’s, I’m good luv, enjoy. Drink water and mind yours – it’ll help you live longer.