Shaina Corbett Jackson, 30, Los Angeles, CA

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.

"No Cakes On A Pancake Booty!"

When you're in high school, it's hard enough trying to register why certain outfits don't fit your body in the exact same way as they fit your favorite celebrity. It's even more difficult to have the answer yelled at you across a gymnasium filled with your classmates. For me, in a nutshell, this is how I realized that maybe I was not as bootylicious as I would have liked.
The year was 2002, also known as the Year of the Tracksuit. Be it velour or terrycloth, Juicy Couture or Target brand, everybody was wearing them. Up until this point, my entire education had been spent at an all-girls' private school, which for me meant a daily wardrobe of plaid- skirt-button-down-blouse uniforms. In the ninth grade, I had successfully managed to get myself expelled (I was a rebel and a punk for the greater part of my adolescence, what can I say?), and switched to a co-ed school.
Eventually, I made a few friends at my new school, and for an upcoming "free dress day" (days when students were allowed to wear something other than uniforms), my small group of girlfriends decided to wear the tracksuits we had just received as Christmas gifts from our parents. My tracksuit was a powdered pink velour.
I could hardly wait to wear my velour tracksuit jacket, half-zipped to expose a little cleavage. However, when I arrived at school on that day and saw my gal pals, I began to notice that their tracksuits fit them in a way that I could only describe as edgier than mine fit me. I could not quite place my finger on what it was.
As we were walking through the school's gymnasium on the way to P.E., a boy in a grade above me yelled out, " No cakes on a pancake booty!" All of a sudden, the realization hit me like a ton of bricks: I looked less edgy in my mind, because I did not have curvaceous hips and derriere to fill out the pants of my tracksuit. Also, I had just been humiliated because of this, for some strange reason.
Thankfully, wth time, I have come to enjoy my body and the many different ways I can dress it up or down. But I still struggle when, now and then, some rude (read: insensitive) person will remind me that, yes, I'm an ethnic woman with a less-than-curvy body. It's a shame that, with all of the many pressures, struggles, and battles a woman must face in this world, we're often forced to fight with ourselves to love the bodies we were given. It's not easy, but I'm learning to tune out the voices of the people who won't leave me alone to love mine.
#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.

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