Three letters that I have known as long as I can remember.
I also recall that as soon as I learned the word “fat,” I knew it was a word used to describe me. I knew I was fat, and I started telling myself that being fat made me less-than as a person.
It was almost like the word fat and associating it with being not good enough or gross was subconsciously ingrained into me from birth. Like somehow, without being directly told, I knew I wasn’t supposed to be fat and that I should not accept my body because of it.
I remember in gym class in 7th grade, they had us measure our body fat in front of everyone in the class. A girl was helping me and she was using a body fat caliper. It literally pinched the fat on our bodies. She was helping to measure the fat on my legs, and she couldn’t grab any. Because my legs are really muscular.
She was impressed and said to the group of girls, “One place Rachel doesn’t have fat is her legs.” She was right. Then I felt terribly mortified and hurt because these girls claimed to be my friends.
Now I think, “So what? I am working on my body and I love my body and I am doing what I can to take care of my body.” I wish this was always my thought process. I would have avoided a lot of pain. I would have gone after my dreams much sooner. I would have not allowed myself to settle on sh*tty situations and sh*tty people.
Having a bad body image truly affected everything in my life. I had such low confidence and thought poorly of myself. I didn’t love myself, and I dated literally anyone who would show me attention. I had super low standards for the guys I gave my time to. I did not value myself at all.
I allowed the guys I dated to use me for many things, and at the time I was using them. I was using them to keep hating myself. That way I could continue to judge myself and project my judgments onto others. This kept up the walls I had built. I assumed everyone judged me for being fat and thought just as poorly of myself as I did.
I closed myself off from real love and created this cycle of abuse in my relationships because I didn’t feel worthy of receiving their love because I was fat.
This sh*t was all in my head.
Aside from the bad choices in men. Those relationships were straight-up abusive, and I am thankful to be out of them.
I grew up, and when I was about 25, I had just got back from flying to California for some guy. I mean, I told myself it was for a job opportunity—but it was mostly for this guy I had met when he was in Washington on business. Anyway, I got stranded at the airport in California on my way back home. I missed my flight. I was scared. I was alone. I was broke. I, of course, called the guy to come to my rescue, but he didn’t answer. Long story short, my sister bought me a ticket back.
I got home, and I looked at myself in the mirror. I just started crying and sobbing. I was having my breakthrough. I had a stark realization of what I was doing in my life, and I fully accepted the fact that I hated myself. I also accepted that I never really learned how to love myself. I was making every decision in my life from a place that was not loving for me at all. I also realized the reasons I hated myself were the reasons I had in my head. I decided I was done with my own bullsh*t.
I decided I was going to love myself and figure out what that meant for me. I started by buying myself nice things. I would do something small for myself every day. I made changes in my diet and started dancing again. I sang songs to feed my soul. I started journaling and getting to know myself more.
I spent time with God. I talked to Him all the time throughout my day. I would process my thoughts with God, and this would help me to get to a more loving and deserving place within myself. This helped me to feel worthy of love and to feel like I deserve more for myself.
From there, I got myself some mentors and coaches. I started working with people who were working on themselves. I got my own coach to push me forward even more. I started reflecting on myself and setting goals for my future. I looked at my mindset and the things I was thinking. I threw out what was not working for me and I kept what was.
I implemented self-care routines in my daily life. I tell myself I love myself every day. I do my affirmations. I have my meditation time, and I spend time allowing God to fill my spirit with love. I push myself to try new things to learn more about myself so that I may love all of the parts of myself.
I look at my body in the mirror now, and I see a woman who is perfectly imperfect. A woman who has curves and stands strong in her skin. I see a woman who takes time to really know who she is so that she can love and accept herself. I see a fierce, beautiful queen. “Fat” does not define me at all anymore.
Those letters are just letters. If I had to choose letters to be defined by, I would choose L-O-V-E.
And so I do.