This photo was taken just two days after my 15th birthday. By 15, I was already a very big girl. I was struggling with my weight and learning – quickly – that I didn’t fit in with society’s expectations for a teenage girl.
My body didn’t look like the women in the magazines, especially not the TeenBeat or Seventeen, which I read with frenetic energy back then.
My body didn’t look like the girls I went to school with, either. I was twice their size, developed, and struggling against tom-boy tendencies and a desire to be more feminine like the rest of them.
I’m not alone in saying that my teens were the most challenging years of my life, partly due to my weight and partly due to the fact that I was unsure of my identity. I found solace in my confusion through food – lots and lots of it – and it took me several years to gain control of my eating and learn the source of my bad habits.
I used to look at these photos and get mad at myself: why was I so lazy? why didn’t I care more about my health?
Now, with fifteen years perspective, I can look back at the younger me with forgiveness and without judgment. I recognize that my priorities were different, I wasn’t fully self-aware, and I had other issues to deal with at the time. Now, I can see this photo for what it was: a birthday celebration at a theme park with my family. I remember being happy, feeling loved, and enjoying the day, and, in retrospect, those good feelings are all that matters.
Bon appetit, my friends!