I think I've been on a diet since I was eight years old. It started the day I was sent home from school in grade three. The teacher told my mother that it was essential that I wear a training bra because the boys were noticing I had begun to "develop." I was a chunky kid. When I sat down there was always a little roll of fat hanging over my pants. My face was jolly, almost chipmunk like. When I was a innocent tyke, I was happy. I didn't know my appearance was a blight on society.
I looked similar to the people in my family, so the weight just wasn't much of an issue. I was involved in sports and that kept me thinner, but my body was thick.
When I began high school the weight started to really sneak up on me. Yet, even then, it didn't bother me all that much. I had brilliant friends and a boyfriend. The weight didn't matter to them.
I was blessed with a good bunch of accepting peers. These were the perks of being raised in the town of Wiarton, Ontario. The community was small and close knit. The people weren't perfect and not focused on beauty or vanity.
When I arrived at college the pressure of attempting to alter my appearance overwhelmed me. I found myself in a dangerous territory -- a unending battle with food. All the while craving peer acceptance.
The boys didn't desire to date me. I was a size 16. A female broadcasting teacher told me I'd need to lose weight if I wanted to be on air someday. She actually said I was 50 pounds away from being beautiful.
I brood over her cruel off-handed remarks -- fat girls don't sit in the anchor chair. It was at that moment that I swapped my major from TV broadcasting to radio. I wasn't pretty enough for TV, I just didn't meet the standard.
I'd look in the mirror and hate myself. I stopped eating. I wanted everyone to like me and I was sick of being alone and alienated. I dropped 75 pounds in a year. I went from 210 pounds down to 135.
I would only eat the occasional can of tuna. When I got hungry I would puree ice in the food processor and mix it with diet cola. I felt faint often because of low blood sugar and kept a box of smarties in my pocket. I would eat a couple each day when I felt darkness start to creep into corners of my eyes.
My life had changed...
I now had friends and a boyfriend. I thought things in my life were beginning to improve. The broadcasting teacher was so pleased with how "lovely" I had become. Yet, I was totally miserable. Worst of all, when I compared myself to my fresh circle of friends, I was STILL heftier than they were. I missed the old Jay, I couldn't stomach this new person. She was always hungry, always trying to fit into smaller clothes, always trying to please everyone.
My weight shrank to 125 pounds when I was at my thinnest. At that point it was summer break and I was up in Tobermory. I would ride my bike miles a day on the hottest days of summer wrapped in a garbage bag with heavy track clothes piled over top. I was desperate to sweat off the water weight. I was weighing myself three times a day, after every tiny meal -- I even avoided drinking water because it made the scale move.
I thought I looked monstrous naked. I had protruding hip bones -- I could see my ribs pretty easily. I had assured myself this is why people admired me. They needed to see my ribs and my collar bone. The only one who despised my look was my grandma, she said I looked feeble (she was right).
My family was even proud of me. They had been large all their lives and also ridiculed (especially my father) and hoped that I would escape the condescending talk, the vicious whispers. I kept hearing the words, "We are so proud of you...Good for you for changing."
It was as if the person I had been before was so terrible. It was a dishonour to my true self.
During my last year of college, the boyfriend who said he adored me, left. I had gained 20 pounds back. He said I had let myself go and he couldn't marry me because our children would be fat. Ruthless.
When I started employment in Kitchener, my weight crawled back up to over 200 pounds.
I honestly didn't mind. I looked like myself again. I started dating a nice guy who cherished my personality and my company. I was terrified to meet his family. I was embarrassed they would see me as nothing more than a fat girl. I did not want to meet up with his friends. Even though I was happy in my own skin, I knew the world would not accept me as his ideal partner. He married me anyway because I was his best friend and he didn't give a damn what people thought. He's not only my husband, but also my hero.
My size has continued to fluctuate throughout the years, as I try to control my weight and everyone is suddenly an expert on what I do wrong, how I should look and how I should dress.
Just last year, I started my diet again and dropped 60 pounds after an acquaintance asked if I was afraid my husband would leave me someday for a skinnier girl -- thanks for reminding me of the fear.
Whenever I dropped weight it was stunning how people suddenly started speaking with me again at family functions and started acknowledging my existence. Of course, whilst they pressured me to devour the high fat food they had prepared. Instead of boosting my confidence, it reminded me that people can be fickle jerks.
I had to sit down and think this all through.
Why, for all of these years, was I on this constant diet, this constant torture? Was I ever doing it for me?
I can honestly say no.
For more information on Annie and Jay's Plus Size Fashion Blog click here.
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