7 year-old me plies and twirls with grace. She loves to dance. But sometimes she can't focus on the barre in front of her or the music on the stereo, because she knows she's the biggest of all the girls in her class. Even a couple adults giggle at her chubby thighs in her little leotard when she's front and centre at the recital.
11 year-old me sits rigid in her chair at school, sucking in her stomach so her classmates won't notice its bulge over her jeans. They're from the adults' section, not Siblings or Justice or one of those trendy stores all the pretty girls shop at. She tries not to think about that.
13 year-old me sings her Torah portion before an audience of hundreds of friends and family members and her parents' colleagues. This is one of the happiest, proudest days of her life. And her dress is fantastic. But she's still afraid she looks fat in it.
16 year-old me fixates on that word, fat. Boys in her class spew insults laced with the word, as though the big tits and round asses they drool over are worth any less when paired with a round tummy or double chin. As if girls' bodies are eye candy. As if the female population of our school is only there for the boys' entertainment.
22 year-old me looks in the mirror and loves what she sees... often. But some days she can't help but whimper, "why did you let yourself go?". "Why do you eat so much?". "Why must you draw so much attention? Why must you take up space?".
Now I'm ready to change. But not my body. My fat body is glorious the way it is, rolls and scars and all. No, I'm ready to change society. One size 3X dress, one fatphobic comment, one diet tip at a time.
Beautiful, chubby little girls should not grow up wanting to be invisible, to stop eating until they fade to nothing, to accept the catcalls and rude remarks and "I'm just worried about your health".
Young women, whether they're a size 2 or a 12 or a 22 or a 32 should never question their worth just because a so-called health magazine or a 'caring' friend or Weight Watchers tells them to.
The systematic oppression of 'obese' people needs to stop. Now.
Let's reclaim mirrors. Gaze at yourself lovingly, touching every curve, kissing every scar, adoring every inch.
And let's reclaim the very word that tortured us as children, that we waved like a white flag, that we swallowed like a bitter pill and choked on when it got stuck in our throat.
Stay beautiful. Love,