I remember what it was like to be the fat girl in school. I remember moving to Utah and making friends with a girl who approached me with quite the opening line: "Do people tell you that you're fat?" I was nine and so quick to forgive. We played together on the playground that afternoon. She introduced me to jump rope and I hesitated because I couldn't jump well and I. . . jiggled. I offered to just twirl the beaded cord. In a few days the other girls encouraged me to try a simple rhyme. They said I could stand by the rope and tell them when I was ready for them to swing it around. They knew how to jump in with the continuous beat of each twirl. I did not. Eventually, they taught me. I loved to jump rope. But I hated that I jiggled.
I remember being followed in the halls by a boy who lived in the neighborhood. I remember him yelling at me, calling me fat and ugly. I went to my teacher crying and related to her what had transpired. She told me to just ignore him. I learned to ignore a lot of other people too.
I remember school pictures. Students, so proud of their smiles and eyes, passed out picture of themselves to classmates. I didn't. I was not proud of my rolls or my chins.
I moved on from the elementary traditions and stepped into junior high. I was a seventh grader who got stuck with the eighth grade lunch slot-- no friends. I ate lunch in the bathroom. I was so ashamed to be seen eating by my peers, even peers I didn't know. I was afraid of judgment and rejection. By eighth grade, I quit taking my lunch altogether, willing to wait 'til I got home to eat. I hated looking into the mirror. I hated my body. I hated that my friends were naturally skinny while I worked so hard and remained tubby.
The summer before ninth grade I started exercising and reducing my portions. I lost thirty pounds before the school year began. Boys started to like me, I had more confidence, and people were nicer. I threw away my fat pants and swore I'd never go back. While my weight fluctuated with in a ten pound range over the years, I never did go back.
But I'm creeping toward that number now. Every month, the scale confirms it. I know I'm carrying a baby. I know I'm suppose to gain weight. But I feel ashamed of the way I look. I feel stared at and judged. People keep asking me when I'm going to start looking pregnant. I hate that. I wish my belly was round and beautiful like everyone thinks it should be, but it's not. It's lumpy, uneven, and divided in two. Hard baby on bottom, squishy fat on top with a crease in the middle where my belly button stinks in.
I try to remind myself how amazing this body is. It has carried my daughter so far, complication free. I've thrown-up, eaten cases of ramen, worked twelve hour shifts at a very physical job, hiked to classes and back, moved to a new apartment, and this amazing body has kept my little miracle safe and healthy. These changes are the battle scars of motherhood and I should celebrate their arrival.
But I wonder if I'll ever feel pretty again. I wonder if I'll ever feel comfortable and confident snuggled up to my handsome husband like I use too.