Not too long ago I was walking into a building, when a young attractive man hurried in front of me to open the door. I passed through, smiled, and said thank you. And then I thought “Would you have done the same thing for ‘that girl’?”
There’s a picture of me at a friend’s house. I’m wearing a black shirt and sitting on the couch. Even though I’m now a few years older, and more than a few pounds lighter, I still remember exactly how I felt.
There’s a smile on my face, but I remember how sad I was. I remember how my body hurt. I remember being ashamed of how I looked. And I remember the heaviest thing about me, was my heart. I had gained so much weight. I know I don’t have a degree in psychology, but I’m pretty sure you don’t gain an entire person because you’re happy.
When I show ‘before’ pictures to people who didn’t know me then, there are different comments. Most people say they would have never known it was me. Some people shake their heads in disbelief. I have friends who insist they don’t remember me looking like that. But of all the reactions, there is one that I will never forget. Because he looked at the picture, and started laughing. And it made me realize how very sad it is, that someone, anyone, would think it’s okay to laugh at someone because of three letters - F.A.T.
But really, it is okay. Because as he judged the way I once looked, I admit, I judged him right back. And I’m pretty sure he’s the guy who wouldn’t have held the door open for that girl. Am I bitter? No way. I am reminded. I am reminded that I am still that girl in the photograph.
I look at that picture, and I feel my heart ache. There are so many things I want to tell that girl. I want to tell her it will be okay. Because she is strong. And smart. And there are people that love her, even though right now she doesn’t love herself. I want to tell her that even though she struggles to walk for ten minutes on the treadmill, in two years she will amaze herself and run her first half marathon. And I want to tell her to trust – because one day, she’s going to figure it out, I promise. I look at the picture, and I know she wants to believe me.
I am still that girl, but more importantly, she is me. She is the girl that will stand next to a guy doing bicep curls with 25 lb dumbbells, and do them with 30 lbs. She is the girl that thinks one of the best compliments is being told she’s funny. She is the girl that just doesn’t get the point of wearing a thong. (Seriously, why would you put it in there on purpose?) She is the girl that loves the feeling of pushing so hard in sprint intervals that it feels like you’ve been punched in the gut and are going to throw up. She is the girl that doesn’t need a guy to hold the door open for her, but thinks it’s just so very nice when one does.
When I look at the photograph, I remember. I remember feeling sad and empty and weak and worthless. And I smile at what has changed. I know how hard I’ve worked. I know how much I’ve learned. And I know, that even bigger than anything about me in that picture, is the knowledge that I will never not love myself again.
Looking back, I now realize it wasn’t ever really was about losing a certain amount of pounds, or getting a medal for crossing a finish line. Instead, it was about learning that I am worth it, and that I always have been. And I thank that girl in the photograph, because once upon a time, she decided to believe it.
(see pictures below)