THE TEEN EXPERIENCE: Rising College Sophomore GIRL

I’ve always been acutely aware of two things in my life: 1. I am a brown multiracial woman and 2. I am fat. Now before I start, I hope you, the person reading this, understands that I call myself fat with pride. It is a fact, and frankly I’ve become too tired of carrying around the shame this small three-letter word holds. Now that that’s clear, I can get started.

Being brown and fat in a society like today’s is hard. You can be brown and thin. That’s manageable. But brown and fat? Man, sometimes I feel doubly screwed. Things are changing though. Big female and male models are taking up more space. It’s exciting, but also alarming. Alarming because again I see that there is marketing being done to project the “right” kind of fat. This fat is toned. Has a relatively flat stomach. This fat is not my body. And it hurts. Is this body desirable? Can I even make it desirable? Quick answers: yes and yes.

I’ve had two boyfriends; both of who were in the later years of the nineteen I’ve been living. While I’d love to say that before them I was secure in my belief of my self-worth and desirability, that’d be a lie. I knew I was a smart, kind, attractive and outgoing person, but to have someone else (especially someone of the opposite sex) acknowledge those traits made it more real. Why that was the truth is in and of itself an entirely other conversation. I learned a lot from them both. I learned what I need in a relationship, what works/doesn’t work etc. I also learned (after our breakups) that I was attractive before they asked me out and that I would continue to be so after. Like a quote that I found and adore, “You not finding me attractive is not going stop me from being attractive.” Big revelation number one: I am an inherently beautiful person and that beauty is not contingent on anyone. Big revelation number two: sex shouldn’t make you self-conscious.

My second boyfriend and I had been dating a few months when we decided to have sex. We were both virgins. Yes, I was a freshman in college and still a virgin. Totally normal and completely not embarrassing. I won’t get into the detail, but to sum it up in one word, I’d say “fun.” It was fun. We laughed, communicated our needs, embraced the awkward mishaps of getting to know the other person’s body, and most of all I felt comfortable and safe. I didn’t think about my body at all. Wasn’t scared that my tummy rolls or stretch marks on my breast and hips would scare him away. I didn’t want to, as a matter of fact, I didn’t even think about, hiding myself from him and that was part of my big revelation number two. Me, a brown, fat woman, was capable of experiencing this level of intimacy – I was worthy of it. And when done right, I had no reason to care about the shape of my body. Even though we broke up, I cherish that moment we shared, and use it to build my expectations of all my future sexual experiences.

Knowing and practicing that my body is worthy of love are two very different things. I, of course, will have days when I don’t feel attractive. When I’ll cover myself up from the world, but that’s okay. For as many days that I find myself feeling ashamed of my body, I will celebrate it and show it off to the world. This brown fat body is worthy of being seen, of being cherished, and of being proud.