A letter from the former fat girl
I did the freshman minus 60
I was always the resident fat girl, and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t trying to get rid of that title.
So, coming into my second semester of my freshman year (spring 2018), I decided to start living a healthier lifestyle.
I started counting my calories, going to the gym daily, attending cycling classes and limiting my food intake. My efforts were actually working this time, as the number on the scale got smaller every week.
The only thing that was different this time was not living under my parents’ roof. I moved out to Buffalo for school and was living alone in an off-campus apartment. I was in charge of my own life in ways I never had been before.
By the summer, I had lost about 30-40 pounds.
And since then, I’ve continued my good habits and shed more weight. I currently weigh 60 pounds less than I was when I started at UB two years ago.
While this very exciting and rewarding experience has been great for me, it also revealed some horrors of the world I’m not sure I would’ve found if I hadn’t lost the weight. Horrors that revealed themselves not through strangers on the internet, but rather through the good intentions of friends and family.
I don’t post too often on social media, mostly because I simply don’t have the time.
After last spring semester, I took time off work to go visit my family abroad. I figured this was a good time to come out of my social media hiding and post an “I’m back!” photo.
I hadn’t posted since the end of October 2018, a photo that didn’t really capture my body in its entirety, so no one really knew I had lost weight.
Then, I posted a photo at the end of May 2019, wearing a tighter top and baggy jeans, fully displaying my whole self. Personally, I can’t tell a difference of weight in either of the photos but my friends and family certainly did.
Ten people commented on my photo with admiring emojis and compliments. Some who saw the photo even mentioned my weight loss to my mom, asking what it was all about. Two of those commenters mentioned my happiness, saying “You look so happy and beautiful.” An old friend even took the time to text me directly saying, “Omg you look so happy in your post.”
Besides the overwhelming slew of generous comments that I don’t usually get, the comments referencing my happiness are what wigged me out the most.
Nobody has ever referenced my happiness from a photo. Yes, I was smiling in the photo but I’m also smiling in all my other photos.
The only difference was my appearance, my size, my weight.
This made me realize that society associates happiness with your appearance.
I never would have realized this on my own, but I watched first-hand how a group of people, my followers, associated my happiness with my weight loss.
The funny thing is, I was probably the furthest from the word “happy” as I had ever been.
I’d just come out of finals week, my grandmother was in bad health and my mental health was not where it should be. Happiness was not in my vocabulary at the time. But, my friends and family plastered it over me as if I was radiating it across the globe.
So, from the former fat girl:
My number on the scale does not translate to happiness. My pant size does not exude happiness. My BMI does not equal happiness. My appearance does not affect my happiness.
So stop assuming it does.
Opinion desk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.