Archived Story

Love yourself regardless of your body size

Published 9:53am Friday, February 15, 2013

Column: Notes from Home, by Katie Mullaly

“Fifteen easy steps to lose weight before bikini season!”

“An easy diet that you can really stick to!”

Society has been dictating what we should look like for a good while now. Society, globally, has told what women should wear, what hair color they should have; even how to sit, what to say in conversation, and what size we should be.

Katie Mullaly

Society has (directly or indirectly, I’m not sure) taught women to be ashamed of what they look like if they do not fit the socially acceptable ideal standards of beauty. This is a story of a girl who grew up hating what she looked like and finally has begun to fully embrace who she is, without drastically changing her body.

I was made fun of for my size. I had snowballs thrown at me while people called me “fattie Kate” on the playground. In junior high and high school, I tried desperately to fit into the social norms pertaining to size and became extremely frustrated when the clothes my friends were wearing didn’t fit me.

I hated myself for being fat for a long time. As I got older, I began to second-guess myself in social situations and secluded myself from them. I didn’t want people judging me more so than I already had been. Even my family was expressing their “concerns” about my size, and at my lowest, threw my size back at me to make me feel ashamed.

I need to say, first, that I am not a medical doctor. Many people have approached me, as they have been “concerned” with my health and my weight. For one, I will say that it is not just big people who have health issues; for two, my health is my concern and mine alone.

How I choose to treat my body is ultimately my decision. Since when is my body a shame to you? Since when are these arms and this tummy and these thighs a problem to anyone? Recently, I’ve come to the radical conclusion that, regardless of my size, I deserve love and respect. I grasped that concept before I realized I wasn’t even giving myself the love and respect I speak so adamantly of.

For the longest time, I would look in the mirror and thousands of nasty, terrible names came to my mind to call myself. One day, out of great courage, I decided to tell myself differently.

Instead of saying I was ugly, or I was worthless, I told myself that I was beautiful, that I loved myself and that I even, dare say, looked sexy! Once I kept doing this, I started believing it, and once I started believing it, other people began to take notice. I also understood that yes, I am fat; but fat is not synonymous with unattractive. There are many terms used to describe people of all sizes that give unnecessary negative connotations. I believe our time on this earth is far too short to be telling hurtful things to each other.

I am not promoting obesity or “unhealthy living.” I am promoting the radical idea that we can love ourselves for who we are at this very minute. Not after we lose 50 pounds, or after that facelift, or after that eyebrow wax, but now; at however much you weigh (big or small!) whatever age you are, however hairy or pimpled, or scarred your body is — to love it.

What size your stomach is, or how much you weigh, does not determine your beauty or your worth! You are worthwhile and beautiful because you are a human being: Your body has almost nothing to do with it. And for those of you who don’t know it yet?

You are beautiful, you are amazing and you are worth so much love. Our time here is so brief, and to live a life of chasing an ideal of beauty made by society is a waste of time. Love yourself and love your friends and family for whom they are now, not what you think you or your loved ones could or should be. The beautiful thing about being a part of this human race is that we are all different — inside and out — and who are we to condone others for being who they truly want to be?

There will be differing opinions on this article, and I can respect that. My hope is to merely open a window to another perspective; that not every person who is fat, skinny, hairy, scarred or disabled, etc. is unhappy, ashamed, or looking for your sympathy. My hope is that we find respect in each other’s journey to happiness, and to respect our own journey as well.

Love yourself as much as you can. Others will follow suit.

Katie Mullaly is a residence coordinator at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa.