I’ve become very active on Instagram, and one of the coaches I follow, Neghar Fonooni, launched a Bikini Rebellion challenge eight months ago.
Having never worn a bikini in my life and endeared to the cause, I joined in. This excerpt was my Day 4 post of the Bikini Rebellion, which I’ve taken the freedom to expand upon because, well, it’s my blog and I can do what I want. 🙂
Part 1: the early years
1982-1992: I don’t remember much in my grade-school years, at least as far as my body is concerned. I have only snippets–
• During the summers I stayed at my friend Jessica’s house. Her family lived directly behind the building where our moms worked, so it was very convenient for my mom knowing I was close by. Whenever I was near Jessica, I had the distinct feeling of being big. I know now that I wasn’t–I was pretty average. But it was hard to reason, in my self-centered young head, that it was not I that was big, but that she was unusually small for her age.
• I also know it was at the time that I was introduced to the scale. Her parents kept one in the bathroom directly in front of the toilet, so it was easy on those long, boring summer days to find distractions. I had fun playing on it–watching the numbers blur back and forth as I pressed my foot on and off, or stood upon it and rocked from heel to toe.
• When I was ‘developed’ enough to wear training bras, I was very self-conscious about it. Let’s just say I went through a vest-wearing phase for a year or two.
1992-2001: More snippets–
• I still felt bigger than other girls my age. Chunkier. I wore long t-shirts, baggy jeans (never shorts), and bulky shoes to hide my body. I played on the basketball and volleyball teams one year in junior high, and I remember struggling to pull the knee pads on over my meaty calves.
• I had a tendency to dress a little frumpy, partly because the clothes available in my size were styles made for older women. The other part, though, was that I didn’t think I deserved to wear the cute stuff, even though I wanted to. The one time I dared to wear a fitted, bright v-neck top, one of the popular girls wore it on the same day. I was mortified. I remember thinking, “Why did I think I could pull it off?”
2001-2005: Ah, high school graduation. My weight had steadily climbed over the years. 185, 190 pounds–which is a lot on a 5′ 2″ frame. I eventually stopped getting on the scale after repeatedly seeing numbers I didn’t like.
I hung around a size 14 in jeans, but I distinctly remember trying on shorts in a department store one afternoon and venturing into size-16 territory. Seeing that number on a clothes tag was a reality I wasn’t prepared to meet.
At this point I hadn’t yet put together the fact that my food choices and lifestyle caused this. I might have known in a vague, nebulous sense, like how you know smoking is bad for you, or that you shouldn’t cross the road without looking both ways for San Angelo drivers who may invent new road rules and mow you down in the process.
With my family being the Hispanics we are, we did everything together, especially when it came to eating. That was our time to bond, to discuss our day, to enjoy our favorite foods. If it was on the table, I ate it. And I’m damn sure I enjoyed it. But I never questioned what I put in my body, even though I had complete control. I spent too much time stuck in my own head–a constant state of being for a shy, introverted girl who lacked any self-esteem.
This trend continued into my college years, where I lived off a steady diet of Chick-fil-A sandwiches and butter popcorn from the movie theater where I worked part time.
My only exercise was lugging my art supplies from my car to the art department and walking across the ASU campus to get to my non-art classes. Academics outweighed the health of my body and my social life by a long shot.