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This story is a part of Lit Mag: The Rhythm & Move Issue.
The summer before seventh grade I begged my mom to enroll me in a workout program that she went to every day. I was twelve years old. She had been encouraging me to go with her for a long time. A lot of people had been telling me I needed to change. People from school, my friends, my family had all been telling me I needed to lose weight for years before then. I guess I finally just realized they were right. I wasn’t even a teenager yet, but I looked in the mirror and hated what I saw. When I look back, I think it’s really upsetting and disappointing how low my self-esteem was at such a young age.
What people said was mean, but it wasn’t untrue. I was overweight for my age. I needed to get healthy. I needed to lose weight. I guess it was the way people said it that made me really want to change. They would start by saying all of these really flattering things about me. I was intelligent, smart, funny, outgoing, that I could be beautiful… but I needed to lose weight. It was for my own good. That it was for my health. That once I looked better, I would feel better too. But, I didn’t.
I took their advice. I lost the weight. I looked better. But I didn’t feel better. My mom was supportive of me through it all. She built me up even when I felt my lowest. For the whole summer, I went to the gym at five in the morning and I worked hard to change. I watched the scale. I went on a diet. The weight was dropping fast. I was happy about that. By the end of the summer, people were suddenly complimenting me about how great I looked. They were proud. Guys, who had never looked at me before, were staring. People told me I was beautiful and there were no “buts” included.
My weight was lower and so was my size but I still saw myself as fat. I literally looked in the mirror and saw the same person from before even though, to everyone else, I looked completely different. I remember crying about it to my parents and trying to explain but they couldn’t understand. I still thought I wasn’t good enough.
My whole seventh-grade year is kind of a blur to me now. I stopped going to the gym when school started. When I stopped, I started gaining weight. I remember having good days and bad ones but it wasn’t until after the school year ended that things started to change for the better.
I found out that my mom and I would be moving from Florida to California. We would be starting over somewhere new. I wasn’t the least bit upset about it. I was excited. Once we moved, I noticed the changes in myself and in the people around me. They no longer said negative things to me pertaining to my weight or my looks in general. I see more people who look like me in real life as well as in the media. The world is starting to realize that beauty doesn’t only come in one size or shape. Society is building up people who are different rather than tearing them down. It’s becoming a little easier for people to be proud of who they are even if it isn’t what people originally thought was “normal” or “attractive.” We’re changing what those words mean and I think that’s a move in the right direction.
I wrote a commentary about how I changed the way I feel about my body. The people around me really changed the way I think, feel, and act. I’ve also included my thoughts about how media is changing the way in which people perceive others who are different. My commentary pertains to the theme of “Rhythm and Move” because I wrote about how society’s views of “different” is changing so that now, it’s a positive thing.