By Alessia Golfetto
Edited by Sarah Desouza
I’ve always been big, surrounded by people urging me to constantly lose weight. Gesturing to my stomach, my grandma would say “make sure this goes down so you can grow up to be a beautiful woman.” I’ve tried not to blame her, I mean that’s what her generation valued. But it still rings in my ears today, though I never understood why we would teach young girls to think this way about themselves. I have basically been implicitly told I wasn’t beautiful all my life and that men wouldn’t want me as long as I looked the way I did.
I’m not trying to put all the blame on my family but it played a huge part in how I felt about myself. I ALWAYS thought I had to lose weight to be beautiful and I ALWAYS thought it was just going to magically happen as I grew up. Well, I’m grown now and I’ve realized that I waited all those years to become beautiful when I’ve BEEN beautiful all along.
I began to realize that not only was my perception of my body distorted but that it was starting to affect the way that I moved through the world. I always HATED taking pictures. Selfies? Who’s she?? Anytime I’d be in a group shot I’d be the first person to critique it or complain. I remember this one in particular where my close friends wanted to take a selfie but I offered to just take a picture of them together instead. To them, it was just me being kind, but I was hiding from the camera because I didn’t want any evidence of ever looking big. I didn’t want to take pictures because I thought it wouldn’t make my weight real. I avoided cameras because it didn’t feel like it added ten pounds; to me, the camera added fifty. When I would see myself in pictures, it’d just not be what I thought I looked like in my head, and it made me sad to think that’s what people saw when they looked at me.
Eventually, I started to feel better — like I woke up one morning without a care in the world and I wanted to show the world what I had to offer here and now rather than wait for the day I would magically lose some weight. I’ve had to look at myself in the mirror enough times till I felt beautiful and confident enough to function. Now I’m not saying you have to be confident 24/7, it’s okay to have off days. What really helped was knowing that I could be making it easier for someone else out there to be confident in themselves. Representation really does matter. At the end of day, scrolling on Instagram, flipping through a magazine, heck…going outside and seeing someone that looked like me, watching a tv show. It all mattered.
I think the best thing I could have done for myself was to stop idolizing people, and when I do, I surround myself with people who look like me by following plus-size influencers instead. It helps to see your body shape embraced even if it’s in something as minuscule as an Instagram post.
Once I began to work through the emotions, I learned I needed to let go of what I thought others might be thinking or what they commented about my body. I still struggle when the world around me is fatphobic, so much so that the fashion industry doesn’t even care about what us big people wear. They. Are. Always. Trying. To. Hide. Our. Bodies. This is one thing I can say has pleasantly improved over the years. I can wear something trendy and actually have my own style? We love to see it. And we love to experiment because believe me when I say, you WILL see my fat ass in tight clothing. That’s because I look good, we both know it. Like for years I was afraid of people “finding out” I was big, there’s no way to hide it! But I thought I was doing a good job at the time. There’s actually nothing wrong with it. I work out, I eat healthy, I regularly get check ups and guess what? I’m healthy. That’s all that matters. Tight is right. Now when I feel like taking a selfie, I damn well do it and I make sure I am baring it all.
It’s taken a lot for me to get here though. I’ve never been one to speak up about these kinds of things, I’d love to sit here and say it was ‘easy’ or that I’m entirely at maximum confidence level. I’m not. I’m getting there. Again, that’s all that matters. And B.I.G. is beautiful. Don’t waste your years waiting to “become beautiful.” I know I’m not.
Okay, I’m gonna go cry now. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.