I have always lived my life in terms of conditional statements. My parents will only be proud of me if I make good grades (not true), I can only love myself if I look a certain way (also not true), I would have a boyfriend if…
Why are boyfriends and girlfriends such an important part of the high school experience? If you meet someone in college who has never had a boyfriend or girlfriend, we find ourselves automatically making assumptions about that person before we even get to know them. In tenth grade I started dating my first (and only) boyfriend. I finally understood what everybody was so jazzed about: having a boyfriend was wonderful. There was always somebody to do things with, go to movies, hang out with, and just talk to. I can’t remember an evening where my boyfriend wasn’t either at my house or I was at his. It was a great way to spend high school. But, like most good things, it came to an end. We weren’t right for each other, and we had different dreams that we could never pursue if we stayed together. He is now happily married, and I am happy that he has found such happiness. All of his dreams he wanted for life have or are slowly coming together.
My plans have halfway come together. I go to a great college. I’m involved, and I have a long term goal for my life. However, unlike my tenth grade boyfriend, I have not managed to find love in my new life. Granted, I haven’t been excessively searching for love, and I haven’t been without interest…I’ve gone on quite a few dates with quite a few different people, but there always seems to be someone out there better suited for them than I am.
Which leaves me wondering, what’s wrong with me?
I don’t mean for this to sound self-depracating at all. I love myself, and I am not going to sit here and cry about why I’m not good enough for a boyfriend…that’s not what this monologue is all about. I can remember sitting around freshman year while all of my other friends had boyfriends and thinking “What is wrong with me?” I always found myself coming back to the same answer: it must be because I’m fat.
I mean, in my mind, there was no other logical explanation for why boys didn’t want to date me. I saw myself as funny, smart, engaged, interesting, and nice…I always told myself that I’d be the perfect girlfriend, if only I weren’t fat. You’re probably cringing reading this because in society “fat”is seen as a bad word. I have never had a problem using the word to describe myself (note that I said describe, NOT define). I am blonde, I am short, I have brown eyes, I like theatre, and I am fat. It’s as simple as that. The word does not make me any lesser of a person, it’s just something about myself that exists, and there is no use ignoring it. I once read a book called The Fat Girl’s Guide to Life in which author, Wendy Shanker, spends many pages talking about getting rid of the negative connotations surrounding the “f-word.” She even mentions at one point that people would rather be called things like dumb, stupid, illiterate, and skanky than fat…which I find to be extremely sad. Mostly because the other words have ties to our intellect, morals, and insight, while fat is just in reference to our exterior. At this point in my life, it’s not hard for me to talk about myself and all of the good things I have to offer a partner or a friend. It wasn’t always this easy though. I am a complete and total type A personality. I am only 100% satisfied if I am going above and beyond the call of duty in everything I do, whether it’s school, friendships, or extracirriculars. Having this type of personality, I became the poster child for an eating disorder. I feel as if bulimia isn’t talked about as openly as anorexia because even in modern societies, bulimia is still seen as a lesser disease. Anorexia shows a sense of control (control of exercise and food intake). Bulimia is seen as a much dirtier and vile condition (probably because of the throwing up…I’m not sure). I also think it has something to do with the fact that with anorexia, the affected person is more noticeably a victim of an eating disorder because of their low body weight. A bulimic may appear to be underweight, at a normal weight, or even overweight. When my bulimia was at its peak, I lost around 50-60 pounds. Everyone around me kept telling me how good I looked, reinforcing the notion that I needed this to complete my picture of perfection. Since receiving treatment for the disease (thank you to my parents, who refused to ignore the issue, and for always being supportive and understanding) I have gained around 15-20 pounds of the weight back. I can’t say I feel good about it, but I know I’m doing what’s best for my body and my sanity. People may not tell me how good I look anymore, but I love myself, and I think that’s better than any compliment anyone could ever give me.
I guess what I’m trying to get at with that story is why are relationships (or the lack thereof) directly associated with personal appearance? I worked as a camp counselor all through high school and I would hear little girls (9 and 10 years old) say things like “I’m not skinny…I’ll never get a boyfriend” or “I’ve never had a boyfriend because I have acne.” What are we doing to these little children? We’re robbing them of a chance to love themselves. If they can’t love themselves at 10 years old, then will they ever be able to love themselves?
I have long disillusioned myself from the notion that I need to be skinny to find a boyfriend. However, I have a hard time seeing other people make that distinction. I am convinced that If I ever want to find a companion, then I will find one. If I am alone, it won’t be because of my appearance or any other factor, it will be because, In the words of the rapper, Drake, I am not done “doing me” yet, and I’m fine with that. I don’t think that it was my appearance that was keeping me back from having a relationship: I think it was my inability to love myself. It’s a well-known fact that if you can’t love yourself, then you sure as hell can’t love anyone else.
I love myself: unabashedly and unconditionally, and I am ready to love the world.