Evolution of a Size
This is the story of a teenager and how she navigates her life being plus-sized. It is a moving story about the way society’s opinions about her body have influenced her life even in adulthood.
Welcome back heroin chic. The taste of slim fast burned deep into my brain as if the words “Fat-free” would transport me from all the hatred I felt inside.
As if the low-calorie label and the complaints from strangers who have never noticed me before would have stopped me from dissecting and hating everything I see in the mirror.
As if watching a size 2 supermodel walk down a runway and having people tell you “you know you could look like her one day” would stop the burning desire I had in me to just eat the cookie anyway.
You have to be skinny but not too skinny, people love thick women but not a fat stomach. If you fit into whatever box they put you in, you will be beautiful but if you even try to step outside of the box just a little then you are worthless.
The first time someone hit on me and liked my body as it is, I nearly laughed in their face. I looked for lying behind their eyes but there was only passion and desire. The type of desire that lit my first societal fire.
Now, my first societal fire was similar to other people. It first started with everyone’s worst nightmare, particularly mine. I stand and look down at the flickering numbers on that scale telling me over and over again just how much I’m worth. Stomach too large wishing that I could just button my jeans in all the way. “Honey suck it in more you’ll look skinny,” my mother says to me as a struggle to button them up all the way. I eventually give up. I accept my defeat and let society and its everlasting love for a size chart win again. As we journey on through the mall I scroll through my phone looking at the endless array of models and influencers who have widened their hips surgically, purposely, embracing their size. While I continue to slouch mine in shame. My mother and I come home from the mall feeling exhausted and a lot less proud of what some like to call our fupas.
My grandmother sits in the living room waiting for us, excited to see what we picked out. She encourages me to give her a fashion show of all the things I picked out just so she can then proceed to pick apart every piece of clothing that doesn’t look perfect on me. “What happened to the girls of your generation I swear the woman of my era looked much healthier.” She says this as she smokes her cigarette and eats her handful of almonds as her lunch for the day.
From the wrinkles on my forehead to the bridge of my nose to the curved lines on my double chin, my body has turned into my prison. A prison that was built on the backbone of societies and my loved one’s malice.
My first attempt at stepping outside of the box I was placed in was one that is still imprinted into my memory to this day. I went to the beach with my friends on a sunny Saturday already dreading the experience of having every watchful and lingering eye on me as I wore a two-piece bikini for the first time. My body continued to shiver with anxiety as we walked to the front of the beach. But then, an epiphany washed over me as I noticed that no one cared that my belly jiggled when I ran across the beach playing volleyball. Or how the stretch marks cascaded down my arms. Everyone was too wrapped in what was going on in their own lives to even notice.
That first feeling of societal freedom was so freeing that I never wanted to stop feeling it. I always remembered that feeling. It was the first time in my life, that my body didn’t feel like a prison destined for me but instead a well-woven fortress. The first time I wore a crop top in public, I remembered that feeling when I wore a body-con dress for the first time. I allowed that feeling to engulf me like a warm hug. Years later when I had my first child, I allowed that feeling to over-consume me even more than the stretch marks on my stomach did.
A couple of months back I read an article by the New York Post that was titled, “Bye-bye booty: Heroin chic is back.” With the reaction that this article caused on the internet and seeing people I follow online react to this, there was a major consensus of people saying that women’s bodies are not trends. This led me to think and when I read the article, there was a quote at the end that stuck with me, “Whether it’s contemporary or 19th century … We as a culture, as a society, are obsessed with size. It’s become connected to our identity as people.”’- Emma McClendon. That quote gave me inspiration for this piece. I thought that it would be impactful and important to read someone’s thoughts about their body over the years and allow people to see how the thoughts you hear around you can influence the thoughts in your head.
Vaneti Ceus is a productive, calm person who likes to read and enjoys any cheesy rom-com you can think of. She is enthusiastic about being in this program and is excited to learn more about writing.