This year, as part of our Take Back The Beach program, we are asking YOU to tell us about your experiences with body talk and self-perception. Below, one reader's story.
"You Are Thicker Than A King-Sized Snickers Bar"
It was high school and I was above the average size of girls my age. At the time, my insecurities were about not having a flat stomach or a thigh gap, an obsession that I still see on social media today. My figure was fuller than most of my friends, but one day a guy in the quad let me know that I was thick, and it was good — in fact, I was "thicker than a king-sized Snickers bar," according to him. I felt kind of awkward and avoided responding to his comments, but to this day I remember what he said and how his words confused me. The messages aimed at young girls like me were centered around wanting us to be thinner. But in that moment, I realized that even my "thick" body could be desirable.
Being a '90s girl, flannels with long dresses and Docs were in style. Growing up with the stigma of being "big," I gravitated to larger clothes to feel smaller. My hips were always hard to fit, and when I sat down, I usually held a pillow to hide my stomach. At that time, everything I saw in the mirror was never good enough. I picked at my soft belly and big thighs, and wished I could change it all and look like anyone else. But that boy's comments made me think about how my body is perceived by different people, not just by those who believe in a singular definition of beauty.
Now, at 35, I know that internal health is far more important than external appearance, and what your body is able to do is more impressive than how it looks. I'm a lot kinder to my tummy these days. My powerhouse, as we call it in yoga booty ballet, is my center and my strength. I focus on how my body feels, rather than how it appears. And even though that boy's comments helped spark this change, my opinion and the comments I give myself are the only ones that count. Oh, and while I do enjoy a good Snickers, I've since redefined my size status to simply: queen.
#TakeBackTheBeach essays are meant to reflect individual women's experiences. They have only been lightly edited (if at all) by Refinery29 and do not necessarily reflect the company's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
Have a story of body image and self-perception that you want to share? Submit your essay to our Take Back The Beach contest here.