Being the last of four children after twelve years is something. I grew up in the island of Trinidad and Tobago and so I consider myself an island girl. A nice thick “reds” as we say; because I’m fair skinned. I’ve always been on the thick side with a big derriere and small waist for all of my life, and so I embraced that. But there was always the need to ‘fit in.’ From a young age I’ve always wondered about my image and how I looked. In primary school, I was picked on by a group of boys because I was chubby or because I wore my hair with braids. I remember I would go home crying because I thought that my friends didn’t like me. This was an ongoing ordeal until I picked up the courage to ignore them and make new friends.
I sort of fiddled my way through and of course, with puberty and all of the insecurities that came with it, the thoughts of my body issues were heightened. Again, I worried about how someone would view me as an individual. Would they even notice me?
When I first started high school, I made some really cool friends; we were a crazy fun bunch. On the occasions that we would go out to the movies, the mall or to parties, of course boys were involved. I was shy. I never wore anything too fitted. It was basic wear for me. I don’t even think I wore makeup either. I wasn’t thin like the other girls. I had a lot of hips. My legs were bigger and my cheeks were chubby. I thought I wasn’t pretty enough. I was always considered the ‘cute one’, which, at the time, was annoying to me. I felt like it was used in the context like “ok better luck next time.”
Coming toward the end of high school, as I started to come out of my shell, I met this guy through some friends. To me, he seemed really sweet; he was tall, fair skinned with curly hair and a really nice smile. I started to have some feelings for him, but it wasn’t anything serious. I may have just seen him at after school classes. It was just a crush. As time went by, he started to act weird toward me when his friends were around and then one day blurted out that “I was too fat!” I allowed that to tear me apart. I later learned that his friends used to make fun of him for talking with me and they teased him about me and so, I guess that was his way of getting rid of me. It took some time for me to hold my head up again and become confident in who I was.
My mother, a strong fearless being, was my world. We shared a very close relationship, and I shared everything with her. She reassured me and made me see the importance of loving myself. The more and more we spoke about it, the more and more I weaned off of this idea of what the world defined a woman as with all of its vain connotations.
I became confident in my own skin and grew to accept who I was as an individual and that I was my own sexy. I introduced fitness into my life and started to eat properly and educate myself on various healthy meals and what was suited best for my body. I was never a fan of crash diets. For me, as a thick girl, there were always the problem areas, stretch marks, cellulite and having annoying lower stomach fat, but I found a way to combat all of that. I started working out five days a week with an amazing trainer who’s fit and petite but means business. She helped me to understand what a healthy lifestyle is all about. It isn’t just about losing the weight. It’s about having the right mindset and focusing on the inner you and with the right attitude the results will show.
With the fitness lifestyle I’ve developed, it helped to motivate and encourage me to enjoy being who I am. I no longer needed anyone to validate me or who I was or how I looked. Once I adopted that positive outlook and got over the negative feelings and fear of my own image, I exuded a different attitude and people noticed me in a different light. I was able to function 100% better on a daily basis, my productivity level increased and indirectly, I was able to motivate other women around me. They would send me private messages or call to simply tell me “Thanks!”. I was so thrilled.
I hope to encourage women and let them know that it’s really all in your mind. I think we’ve put our true selves on the back burner and have compromised our being and have accepted that to be seen or to be successful, we need to be someone we are not. Why not be you?
That was my battle, and once I got rid of that fear and decided to face my own issues head on, there was no stopping me. I forged ahead and I am an even more empowered woman now.