I have always had a bit of jiggle, ever since I was little. Not one day have I woken up not to feel a little jiggle in my thigh when I swing my feet over the bed, but you know what… that’s okay. I have been conditioned, since I was young, to hate my body. It’s only recently I have decided that I am not going to believe what I was conditioned to believe anymore. I am going to love myself, whether the world likes it or not.

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For most of my life, I have hated my body. I have certain moments of my life ingrained in my mind. Many of which are the situations that made me think that my body was flawed. The first of these memories of which I can recall is from when I was around five years old. I wore sweatpants all of the time when I was little. I always thought they were so comfy.

I was first told I was fat on my first day of Kindergarten. I was so excited to go to school, and to make all these friends my mom told me about. I wore my favorite, most comfortable sweatpants on that day. I remember that they were a magenta material that looked good against my skin tone. At recess a little girl asked me why I wore them. When I told her I wore them because they were comfortable, she replied with what would become my worst nightmare.

“You can’t wear those.” She said.”You’re fat.”

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I remember going home from school that night so sad. I was fat. I had heard other people be called fat before, and I knew it was bad. The next day, my mother tried to get me up, and put me into some clothes she thought I’d like: a yellow top with some pink sweatpants. I told her I wanted to wear my jeans. I had never really worn jeans before so my mother wanted to know why. I will never forget the look on my mothers face when I told her that I couldn’t because I was fat.

Thinking about the face my mother made, today, makes me feel so completely sad. My mother is a plus size woman, and she has always tried to raise my sister, and I to love our bodies. It took me a while to listen to her properly. I had, from birth, been surrounded by body negativity. From the ads on TV, to a little girl calling someone fat on the playground. I have had to work through layer after layer of body negativity that was dictating who I should be, how I should act, and what I should wear.

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Slowly, after I became an adult, I began to work through this body-negativity. I didn’t wear my first skirt in public until I was nineteen, I wasn’t naked in front of another person until I was twenty, and I didn’t think I was pretty until I was almost 21.

Loving myself has been very, very difficult. The road to self-love has been divided between two saving graces for me. One of which is a given for anyone who wants to love themselves: surround yourself with friends who love you as much as you should. I have two friends who have been instrumental to my self love. I met them both through my work, and believe my life will never be the same without them. One has taught me that big girls can do anything, and another taught me that big girls can be sexy too. One of my friends is very thin and has other thin friends. She still took me to every event with her, and never once pressed that I was bigger than anyone else. Her friends didn’t even seem to notice there was someone fat among them. My other friend is plus size like me. She taught me that I can be a sexual being. She taught me that men can, and still will love you if you are a bigger girl. Not that men loving you should be one of your top priorities, but it was one of my biggest hang ups as a teen. I have always wanted love, I just have always been hung up on the fact that no one could love me because I am fat. As always, I was wrong and she was right. Turns out, genuine men don’t care as much about the size of your waist, but about the size of your heart, and the contents of your personalityImage result for big heart and personality

This may be an unpopular opinion, but the other way I finally figured out how to love myself, was with physical love. I am not saying that sex is the answer. It sometimes is very much not the answer. What I am saying is that if you want to be a sexual being, be a sexual being. Don’t let your weight get in the way. I, for the longest time, avoided relationships because of how I feared they would end up. Sometimes they do not end well. For me, the guy I lost my virginity to took another girl to the zoo the next week. He was terrible. He wasn’t very funny, or clean, or entertaining to be around. What he did offer me was, sexual release. As a girl who grew up thinking she was fat, having someone who wanted me sexually put me over the moon. Do not, for even one minute, think you are only worth who is willing to have sex with you. What I am saying is that sometimes sexuality can be freeing.

The first time I was even intimate with a man, I didn’t even have the thought in my mind that it would happen. We went to lunch. Nothing. He invited me back to his place. Nothing. He asked if I wanted to hang out and watch a movie. Nothing. He suggests his bed is the best place to watch it. Nothing. He makes a move and put his tongue in my mouth. My inner fat goddess who has been continually beaten, and bruised by people and society yells out in joy.

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Ever since I have had this sexual awakening I have felt much more confident in myself. I wear what I want, I wear heavy makeup, I dye my hair. I. Do. What.I. Want. I no longer have thoughts about what people are going to think of me in the short dress I loved so much on the rack. I only think about how great I look. I no longer think I can’t wear a bikini to the beach. I only thing about how awesome I’m going to look when I accidentally get a terrible sunburn. I can stand in front of a lover naked without any thought about what he thinks of me. I can only think about how I’m about to get busy with someone I love.

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I hold this new found sexuality in very high regard. Without it, I feel that I would be an entirely different person. I feel that I would still look in the mirror in the morning and cry because of my looks. Most importantly, I feel like I would lack the confidence that has become so key to who I am as a person.

I hold my friends in an even higher regard. If you gain anything out of reading this article, gain the knowledge that your friends are some of the most amazing tools for loving yourself out there. These are people that do not have to love you, but have chosen to. These people are the ones who can teach you things your family cannot, and that will be there for you during everything. Cherish your friends. Surround yourselves with people who make you a better person, who think you are smart, and funny, and beautiful, and eventually, they will teach you to be so.

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