by: Clair E.,
Thinking back to the days of elementary school the only worries I seemed to face were what game I was going to play at recess and with whom my next play date was going to be. As middle school crept in the worries became more focused on expanding my friends group and getting prepared for high school. At this point in my life body image was not something I was too focused on. Everyone was going through puberty so everyone’s bodies were changing. I was a tall girl all throughout middle school but hadn’t grown since, yet other girls were continuing to grow. Near the end of middle school and the transitional summer to high school is when I started to feel self-conscience about myself. I didn’t quite know what to expect from the other girls and guys, especially the older ones.
Freshmen year was a year filled with self-conscience thoughts and constant worries about what I looked like. The body types ranged in my high school but it seemed as though the skinniest girls were the ones with all the attention. What I didn’t realize then, was that it wasn’t always good attention. Freshmen year I looked at the skinny girls everyday willing to give up anything to look like them. I didn’t understand how they could be so tiny and still eat a lot of food. I was an active participant with cross-country and lacrosse but still it wasn’t enough. I never felt comfortable in my body and constantly tried wearing sports clothes or baggy clothing because I never felt skinny enough and felt as though I didn’t deserve to wear cute clothes until I lost weight. I wanted to feel comfortable and wear whatever I wanted. This only caused more stress into my freshmen year, which didn’t help with keeping up with grades either. The stress would be so overwhelming that I didn’t want to do my work and so I wouldn’t. As a freshman no one knows who you really are and people are curious to look for potential girls who are good looking. Older boys were talking to girls in my grade which made me consistently compare myself to them and want to be more like them in any way I could. I ended freshmen year feeling so unsatisfied with my body and not being happy with who I was.
Sophomore year I continued with the track & field team because it was important for me to keep up with physical activity but once again I was unsuccessful in reaching my unrealistic goal of being basically a walking skeleton. There was constant media around me as well filled with girls who starved themselves for their bodies and the guys would go crazy for them. It seemed like that was the type of girl I needed to be as well. Wearing anything tight was still out of the question for me; it was my own punishment to myself until I was in the shape I wanted to be in. This was a time when people slowly began to party as well. It seemed as though the people who were invited to the parties were all the popular girls who got their invites from older guys. I was beyond jealous of those girls not realizing till later the guys didn’t want anything more than something physical from them. But at the time I was constantly jealous of those girls. I had a good group of friends but I knew we all secretly wished we could be in the popular group.
Junior year I would say was the biggest challenge year. Grades were of high importance for colleges and everyone was trying to get into the best colleges they could. But for me, I was still caught up in the idea of becoming someone I was not. Many kids at this point were content with who they were, but not me. I quit all sports (my biggest regret) and instead tried only to eat maybe 2 meals a day. Sadly it was working for me but I was losing all energy to do activities with my friends. I hated looking in the mirror and I hated wearing anything that was tight. I was also wearing lots of makeup on my face, which I now realize was way too much. It wasn’t until one of my friends became bulimic that I realized that I didn’t need to starve myself and keep doing this to my body. Watching her hurt herself and the people around her who were worried for her really opened up my eyes. At that point I decided to make a pact with myself; to workout everyday and eat healthy. Not only two small meals, but three healthy, full meals. I was never at the point where I would put a finger down my throat and throw up to feel good about myself. I was luckier than some girls and learned that it wasn’t the way to go.
My senior year was the year I was finally comfortable with who I was and it was a time where I stopped worrying about looking like everyone else around me. I loved the way I looked and I was healthy. I may not have been model skinny but I was in shape and was happy and that’s all that mattered to me. Now that I am in college looking back on high school and my body concerns I feel stupid, but truth is if I didn’t go through what I went through I may not be where I am today and feeling as good as I do. I try to workout everyday and I am careful about the foods I eat. College is hard because you’re on your own and there is food constantly around you. The best thing one can do is have constant reminders to exercise and eat healthy. Of course there are times to indulge in desserts and treats but not to a point where it takes over your life. In high school I used to look at people who did not have the stereotypical model body and feel bad for them and never associated myself with them. In college, I don’t discriminate based on looks. Everyone is built differently and instead of being unhappy working to fit in I am way happier working on my individuality.