I was elated; my friend had just complimented me; I looked amazing. Even though he was just a friend, his words seemed to impact my life greatly. And now that I had his validation I felt great. I was doing things right. That got me all psyched up; I maintained my low carbs diet and intense work outs. When I looked at myself in the mirror I loved what I saw. My curves were just how I wanted them. I was thrilled.
A few weeks after that night, mom sized me up as I set the table for dinner. “You’re slimming,” she remarked. I had noticed it but somehow I didn’t want to admit it to myself.
“No, it’s because I’m in baggy pants.”
“I know the pants don’t particularly fit but I’m telling you, you’ve lost weight,” she insisted. “It must be the intense work outs you’ve been doing lately.”
I didn’t want to argue with her. I just went to my bedroom and stood in front of the closet mirror. I tried outfit after outfit, to see if what mom had said was right. My clothes fit, but I could see there were some unfilled spaces that were once filled. But even as I looked into the mirror I didn’t want to admit what was right in front of me; I was slimming. Given that I was still petite, it meant that if I lost any extra weight I would appear unhealthy. I had just come out of a phase where I’d lost so much weight because I had been straining too much at a job I had, which had led me to quit after realizing I’d started feeling weak.
I couldn’t imagine dragging myself back to that phase consciously. Whenever I bumped into friends on the streets they would look at me like I was sick. I was too skinny. At the time I hadn’t met my skating buddies. We only met later after I had quit my job and had put on some pounds.
That night when I looked at myself in the mirror and realized mom was indeed right, I made a choice. I could opt to slim to please my friends, or I could just be my real curvy self. I opted for the latter. I would be myself. Whoever wanted to be in my life would have to accept me for me; with all my perfect imperfections.
Beauty is more than just the outside appearance. I learnt that ages ago when I was still a kid. I wasn’t about to let people I considered my friends dictate the life I lived. If they wanted to be my friends they would have to let me be the person I wanted to be, and slim wasn’t it.
Around that same time I found myself too busy with school work; I didn’t have much time for hanging out with my friends. When I was free they weren’t and when they were I was tied up with something. Sometimes though, I felt like I was deliberately avoiding them. Months later, last year, one of my skating buddies and his family moved. I was devastated, because somehow I liked him more. He appeared to be the head of the team, even though no one had officially appointed him. He was just cool like that. In my opinion he was the skater with the coolest moves.
That same day I found out they had moved, I called my other friend to check if he knew as he’d been out of town for the past few months. He didn’t seem to know. While we were talking I asked him if he’d be signing up for a skating competition that was being held in a few weeks’ time. He hadn’t heard about it so I sent him the link. Before we hang up he asked how I was doing and I told him I was great even though I was still feeling bereft after learning our friend had moved.
“I know you’ve put on weight,” he teased. I just gave him a mirthless laugh. I didn’t confirm or deny it. He said he would let me know when he was back home. When I hang up, my thoughts lingered on his words. ‘I know you’ve put on weight.’ I realized he was just a vain guy, fixated on my weight. I wasn’t going to live a miserable life trying to please someone who couldn’t see past my flesh. That day something inside of me died; the desire I had to be validated by my friends.
I decided I wouldn’t let them call the shots. It was my life, my rules. If they thought I wasn’t good enough to be their friend just because I wasn’t slim, then I had no business trying to force myself on them. I wouldn’t live a dejected life trying to live up to the expectations of men who had a twisted notion of the essence of true beauty; flawed men who thought they knew what true beauty was.
John Legend’s song stirred something deep inside of me.
Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Loves your curves and all of your edges
All your perfect imperfections
If someone loves you for real, they will love you for you; with your perfect imperfections; without trying to change you into what/who they want you to be.