I was taught that beautiful was many things, I was taught that if I wanted to be beautiful I needed to be skinny, I needed to have curves in the right places, I needed to have light colored flawless skin, basically I was told I needed to be something I wasn’t. I come from a very “traditionally” beautiful family. I have cousins who are models, and professional dancers. I have grandmothers who were beauty queens, and I have aunts who stop men half their age in their tracks when they walk by. I don’t look like them, and I really never have.
When I was little I used to play with my perfect Barbies and dream of one day growing up and looking just like them. Because that is what I was taught beauty was. It wasn’t such a farfetched dream when I was young, you see, I used to be skinny; I’m not the big girl that can truthfully say that she has always been big. Up until I was about 8 years old I was a pretty average child, and people would call me beautiful wherever I went. Then something changed, I was sexually abused by a family member for 2 years. I had no one to tell, and no one to save me, so I hid within myself and within my food. I began to eat, I ate a lot, and I ate often. Eating was the only thing that gave me comfort, or made me feel safe. Eating was the only thing that I could control. It became a coping mechanism for me, I felt ugly, so I ate, I felt bad because I ate so much, so then I ate some more. It is something that I still struggle with to this day. I don’t remember when I realized I had crossed into the “fat zone” but I do remember that no longer would any one call me pretty, no longer was I considered beautiful, I was not like everyone around me; it was a sad realization for a child. Thankfully at the age of 10 that abuse ended, but it forever left an impact on my life and on my weight.
There were times when even my own family would ridicule me. When I was 9 years old we were all at a birthday party for my cousin Deedee and there was an entertainer there playing music and keeping the children entertained. He picked me and some of my other cousins to participate in a competition of sorts. While I don’t remember exactly what the competition was I do remember that I lost and my grandmother Zamudio took it upon herself to make an announcement to the whole crowd that I had lost because I was fat and couldn’t keep up. She has said and done things like this all my life. She has never once taken into account anything other than my weight; I have never been and will never be good enough for her; nothing but the superficial matters to her, so needless to say I do not really talk to her anymore.
That was many years ago, and although I am still not what society considers beautiful, I know that they are wrong, because I am beautiful. It took me such a long time to get to this place where I felt comfortable in my own skin. While I still strive to be healthier every single day, my focus is not so heavily centered on my weight, my weight no longer defines the image I see in the mirror. When I look in the mirror I see a beautiful woman who has been to hell and back a few times and has lived to tell about it. So no, I am not like “them” I am just who I was meant to be.