I’ve never really had an issue with my curves. My heritage is German-Irish-Dutch so growing up I was neither the smallest girl nor the biggest. Mostly raised by a single mom, she taught me that healthy is happy, to stay active, and always get involved in anything that I was curious about. My oldest sister was the true athlete in the family. Always fit, always running marathons. My brother was the greaser mechanic type, my next to oldest sister was the popular cheerleader, homecoming queen type, and then there is me: the nerdy bookworm that was in marching band and academics.
I had a well-rounded, supportive environment in my teenage years so I didn’t see myself as anything but normal. Moving to Florida and attending college, I felt no different. I knew what outfits looked good on me and knew what outfits made me look like a stuffed sausage.
And then I met a guy and all that self-confidence slowly started to change. We were together for 4 years and like all relationships, had some good and bad times. He was in the military and extremely fit and athletic and all I wanted to do was finish my Bachelor’s and be with him. He helped me with my homework, spent holidays at my parents’ house, took care of me after a surgery. Overall he was a very supportive boyfriend and things were great! He was sent overseas for a year and we kept us as strong as possible given the distance. When he came home on leave, he asked me to move to Phoenix with him. He was getting stationed there next and I was elated! He said we would start our life together there and would pick out rings and do things right. We were going to get married and start a family and live the American dream. I had daydreams of when I would slip into the role of the supportive military wife and he would always be my hero in camo!
But the proposal never came. A year into our new Arizona life, came the breaking down of my self worth. “When you can run a whole mile on the treadmill without stopping, maybe then I’ll get you a ring.” “Why are you always so loud?” “You’re embarrassing me.” “Why do you not get upset when bad things happen?” “Why do you have to be a goddamned free spirit all the time?” “I wish you looked like her.”
I’ve been the exact same size for over 3 years together at this point. Maybe I was too fat for him? Was I too opinionated and wild to be a military wife? Maybe I was going to lose him if I didn’t drop some major weight. I hit the gym and I started running. I had our potential American dream life dangling like a carrot in front of me as I ran. At the gym, I suddenly became aware of all the small, bouncy, blondes on the Stairmaster that I never noticed before. I looked at my reflection in the mirror and saw myself as this redheaded, freckle faced, round, blob. I began to hate my body and my loud personality.
The few, dearest friends that I met in Phoenix said that they felt they saw the “real Jeannie” when alone, than when he was around. And it was true. I was usually worried about my large body taking up too much of his space or being too loud. My physical changes didn’t happen fast enough for him, I am assuming, because we had it out and it was over for the final time. The couple months leading up to the end of the relationship, I became mentally stronger and realized that who in the hell is this man to tell me that I’m not good enough? That my unfiltered mouth and fat ass will never find anyone that is worth anything? I was absolutely miserable and I had had enough.
I don’t regret the relationship at all and have no hard feelings towards him. If it wasn’t for him, I never would have discovered my own inner strength, or Arizona for that matter!
Years later, I have a newfound confidence and love for my shape. And guess what? I still have a belly, I still have big thighs… I’m still the same size…. This body is just a little older, A LOT wiser, and a lot stronger. Meeting a fantastic personal trainer that showed me what my body is capable of, joining roller derby and being around many like-minded, alpha women, helped me to be at peace with the demons of my past. Sure, I never got that big diamond in which I was promised, but I am living my own American dream.