When I was fifteen, I was on a swim team and my high school track team. I played soccer and basketball and lifted weights and rode my bicycle everywhere.
I was an athlete.
My body fat was low enough to hold off puberty.
I was already tall, with long legs and narrow hips and broad shoulders.
I was constantly compared to my sister who looked like Blue Lagoon-era Brooke Shields and my other sister who was a perfect blonde ballerina and my chubby mother.
I was always hungry and never food secure, because someone was always watching what I ate.
"You’re not fat yet, Shaunta, but if you’re not careful …"
"Are you sure you need a sandwich?"
"Haven’t you already had enough?"
I truly believed I was a fat, disgusting, ugly, monster that no one would ever love. The weight of that sometimes felt like it might crush me to death. I never, ever wasn’t trying to take up less space.
It took me a long time to stop looking at pictures of my fifteen-year-old self and thinking: “Wow, I was so pretty and so thin.”
As if that confirmed that I deserved better.
As if there is some weight where hating yourself is okay.
As if it’s okay for fat kids to feel the way I did.
I wish someone had taken my face in their hands in 1986 and looked me in the eye and said, “sweetheart, you are good enough.”
Sometimes when I lay down at night and close my eyes, I bring up an image of fifteen-year-old me and that’s exactly what I do.