my mother's side of the family is long and lanky - until my growth spurt everyone said i took after them. mom's high school nickname was totem pole. she weighed 110 lbs at her wedding. she didn't have any health issues, it was just her body type. it's become more and more evident that i have more of my dad's side in me than anyone thought. his family is full of sturdy, rotund Polish women who always smell of kielbasa sausage. it took me awhile to come to terms with my curves. growing up around old pictures of my rod-thin mother and grandmother and aunts made me very self-conscious when i realized that i didn't look like them. i struggled with the fact that i weighed 150 lbs at 15 when my mother didn't reach 100 til she was in college.
i have finally become comfortable with the fact that my figure is actually pretty rad. but here's the thing. people still call me skinny. they say it like it's a bad word. i see other girls look at me and i know that they're seeing old me, prepubescent me. skinny me. but i'm not like that anymore. i ran into a lot of scrutiny from other girls when i was still struggling with accepting my physique. they saw me as skinny, and therefore thought that i didn't have a right to complain or feel uncomfortable with my body. though i weighed 10 lbs more than most of these girls, they chalked it up to my height and insisted that i was a stick, while they were a log. they would use me, a fellow log, to justify their deluded self-depreciation, and it made me quite uncomfortable. i don't stand for this anymore. when somebody compares my body to theirs i immediately shut them down. but it's confusing and upsetting how my peers can be so wrong about my body and theirs.
and then there are the people who call me fat. like my maternal grandmother. well, she doesn't say it explicitly, but i've taken the hint from her little jabs about my eating habits. on christmas she told me that if i ate another chocolate truffle i'd be the size of a house (with a "joking" chuckle, of course). the first time she met my boyfriend she commented on how i'd better cut back on the milkshakes or else she'd have to take me shopping for new jeans. i'd had my wisdom teeth out the week before. new years eve i wore a fitted velvet dress i'd found at a vintage store downtown. her comment? "good thing you're wearing it now, while it still fits." i love my grammy. she means well. i know that she's just concerned about my health. my dad's family has a history of weight problems that have led to high cholesterol, strokes, diabetes, and premature arthritis in many of my family members. i get that she's concerned. but calling me fat or warning that i'll get fat if i don't stop eating isn't constructive. it hurts so much to hear those comments from someone you love and respect. nobody deserves to cry themselves to sleep on christmas because of body shaming. and that's why it needs to stop.
i am happy with my shape. my body is beautiful, every curve and freckle and dyed-ginger curl. nothing that anyone says can convince me otherwise. i eat what i want because i enjoy it, and even though i might drink a lot of milkshakes and munch on a few too many hershey's special dark chocolate bars, and it may cause me to have a little extra padding, i don't think there's anything wrong with that. but when people are constantly questioning it, my confidence waivers. i feel weaker and more vulnerable. no matter how much i just want to thrust my middle finger in the air and declare my love for myself, the constant commentary on my weight and body type makes me second guess myself all the time. i want to love myself. i try. but it's hard. it's hard to love yourself.