I don’t usually accept guest posts, but when Danny’s cousin Lauren approached me about writing one about her weight loss & journey to loving herself, I couldn’t turn it down. Lauren is very inspiring and has been working hard for a long time and it’s certainly paid off. I hope you enjoy her story and find it as inspiring as I do!
My name is Lauren, a lot of people call me Lo or Lola. As a child I was never obese or even overweight but I’ve always had a round face and full cheeks. I went to a small catholic grammar school at the Jersey shore and spent 9 years (K-8) with roughly the same 30 some odd kids. I was a target to other kids because I was shy, quiet, smart – a bit of a teacher’s pet. Kids called me names based upon my weight, but my weight was actually inconsequential. My time at St. Peter’s had a profound effect on how I saw myself.
Me and my godmother around my middle school years.
However, after grade school I made two giant leaps towards accepting myself:
- In high school I met my best friend Megan who stuck with me through all my angsty self-hatred and taught me that there will always be someone there to support you when you can’t do that for yourself.
- I joined the women’s rugby team at Drew University and was immediately accepted into an incredibly diverse family representing all types of women who didn’t care what you looked like, where you came from, or what your major was. All they wanted to know was what kind of a person you were. There were two questions: do you want to play rugby? Yes? Are you nice and fun to hang out with? Also yes? Great. You’re in.
I graduated college at 190lbs and would hit 205 before I realized what I was doing to myself. As I thought I was gaining confidence and growing as a person, leaving the past behind, secretly those words from my past haunted me. I treated my body poorly because I learned for those 9 years in grade school that it was ugly and worthless. I had internalized a lot of negative ideas about my body.
I needed to take that third step which was cheesily (mmm cheese) believing in myself. That day came when I signed up for a mud run on a whim.
I knew I would never do it unless I just did it and so I did (that’s some Yogi Berra wisdom right there). I started running 3 times a week to prepare using an app called “Ease into 5K”. I wasn’t trying to lose weight; I was just trying to not die doing this thing I had always wanted to do. But I did lose weight. And I felt really good about myself. I was down to a size 12/14 – far from “ideal” according to every magazine I saw – but for the first time in my life I felt good about my body. I was even ::gasp:: proud of it
Let me see if I can put this into some perspective. Famous, gorgeous, incredibly talented women like Adele or Mindy Kaling who don’t fit the cookie cutter mold of size 2 pop stars and female leads are constantly asked where they “get that confidence from” as if they’re defying some sort of odds by being bigger than Rihanna and Jennifer Aniston and still achieving success and happiness somehow. It’s such an asinine, insulting question that no one would ask a man or Jennifer Aniston for that matter.
All those shapes and sizes outside very specific looking sizes 0-4 are grossly underrepresented and treated like an alien concept no one knows what to do with.
Not every woman can physically be a size 2 and not every size 2 woman is going to look the same way or feel automatically confident in herself. The true exercise in absurdity is not magically being happy being exactly who you are but in the idea that we should all look so insanely similar. Beyond that, don’t you want to enjoy your life? Do you want to seriously waste your time and cloud your memories with the misery that is wishing you looked like someone else or worse yet, an imaginary image created by distorting an already beautiful woman with Photoshop? Cut yourself some slack!
The same way that having a huge safety net in my family and friends didn’t magically make me love and believe in myself, media and society suddenly embracing and promoting women of all sizes (though they absolutely should and NEED to) won’t flip a switch in your head that makes you accept yourself.
Putting yourself down, nitpicking your body, comparing it to images Photoshopped within an inch of their lives is a BAD, DESTRUCTIVE HABIT and no one can break that habit for you.