I'd never been the skinniest girl in a room before, and I doubt I ever wanted it. I've never been a diet addict and my measurements were consistent from about age 15 to 20. I got along with myself very well and didn't think of making changes to my body. I've never been told that I have to lose weight in order to look more attractive.
Let me see what else I can lie about here…
Yes, I've never been the skinniest girl, my friends were. I had no doubts I wanted to be the same. I really didn't follow any diets and I didn't get crazy about torturing myself every day counting calories. I had enough awareness not to do so. But I did struggle and I kept this pain inside, locked away from everyone - even from myself.
Let me give you a backstory. I'm from Ukraine, born in a small town with a name you won't even be able to pronounce. I spent 20 years of my life surrounded by people who aren't used to diversity. People there have only one color of skin (white), one face-type (Eastern European), and one openly sexual orientation (straight). When they see something different they usually would feel uncomfortable and scared and angry. Now, you look at me and say "but you are a straight white Eastern European, what's your problem?" The problem was that if you have a butt you didn't fit beauty standards. I am 165 cm (5'5" inches) tall and my weight at this time was usually around 56 kg (124 pounds). Sometimes I could live with it and sometimes I would hate myself, my body, my shapes. I looked at my super-skinny girlfriends and thought that God gave me the wrong body. I should be as thin as a ballerina and then I could love myself.
The only people I could share my feelings with were my family members. They looked so surprised and upset hearing me bitting myself up. They tried to support me, talk to me and give all love they had. But I couldn't accept it and thought that bitting myself will actually refine me and my personality. I tried hard not to show my feelings to anyone else but I felt judgement all the time. I would here things like “not skinny” or “you are a girl with shapes” and those words would be painful sounds. They meant you are just not good enough to be equal to your idols. But I wore a confident smile, even when I'd hear the evil word “pishechka” (I can only explain it as being similar to Beyonce's ‘bootylicious’).
Only thing I am really proud of though is that I've always wanted to look great in a healthy way so I didn't get any slimming pills or diet cookbooks. Eventually, my body changed a lot: I moved to the US, became vegetarian and a few months later I refused to eat any animal products, instead choosing fresh raw fruits and veggies. Over the next six months, I lost over 20 pounds. I chose this diet cautiously based on what animal products and processed food do to my health, not because of ethical reasons. I lost a lot of weight, but it didn't mean I got rid of my complexes. Now I live in a country that is much more open-minded, New York, which you can call the City of Diversity. However, the trick is knowing that the judgement will follow you anywhere because you are your judge!
On my way to the "perfect" body, I became really underweight and this is where I started to realize that my way to my dream look is not that healthy. Weight is not a measurement of perfection or happiness. As soon as you lose pounds you gain other fears. Although I've lost so much weight and still feel ashamed and scared sometimes, I've gained a confidence in my own power of being beautiful. Changing my diet was definitely a good decision, but the most important is to not forget to change your attitude.
All these transformations are going on in my brain first, and then in my body. I am learning how to accept myself; my wins as well as my fails. I am learning how to relax and define healthy choices from health-mania choices. I am learning how to kick the judge's ass off my brain and not depend on what I think others claim is right, but on what is right for myself.
Body shaming only takes place in not sustainable mind, but I truly believe that anyone who listens to oneself is empowered to be free.