Disclosure: This is fully my experience and I do not want to stereotype any other person with their own past or present journey of body or confidence issues.
I was never, ever, ever self-conscious about my body growing up. I have always been curvy. I remember the first time someone commented on my butt was in Kindergarten – I was running around the playground when Deandre Morgan came up to me and said “Kelly, you have a booty!” I was 5, people. It’s just always been apart of my DNA. I was a competitive gymnast growing up, so aside from my naturally endowed body, my thighs are every bit of a thunderstorm and my shoulders have been muscular for as long as I can remember. While curvy wasn’t “cool” yet (this is before the Kardashian years) I was always proud of my body and embraced who I was.
Then, I fell in love. I met this guy in college and we dated for years. He was truly everything I ever wanted on paper – smart, funny, handsome…really going places. Mind you, during college my weight was consistently up and down (too many Tots Tuesdays and Bud Lights) but this guy (let’s call him Jake for the sake of anonymity) never passed up the chance to throw a “dig” at me. It was comments like, “wow you sure are hungry,” or “when did your boobs get so big” (which was not intended to be a compliment). While it started to really effect my confidence, I just let it slide because I still was proud of my curves.
It wasn’t until I moved to New York that my confidence hit an all time low. Jake and I were “on a break” and he was all I could think about day after day. On top of that, my job when I first moved to New York was torturous. I was working 80+ hours a week and eating anything that was cheap just to get by (I was making $29K/year). Jake and I got back together right when I started my new role in Entertainment PR. My job and the people at the agency were so intense that I had stopped eating. My anxiety was at an all time high that I couldn’t stomach any food during the day. My life felt like it wasn’t mine anymore and the only thing I felt like I had control over was my physical body. I was working out twice a day because it was the only thing that made me feel better and the only time I could get out of my own actual head. To no surprise, I started losing weight and losing it extremely quickly.
I remember seeing Jake for the first time again after I had started losing weight and he couldn’t take his hands off me. He showered me with compliments and I felt so amazing about how he was finally perceiving me. And that’s when I took things to the extreme. We would see each other once a month (we were long distance) and when I was back in New York, losing weight was all I could think about. I was working out at least six days a week (usually twice a day) and not giving my body what it needed in terms of food. I had lost my curves – my butt and boobs were completely gone – I looked like a board (this was not my natural body type) and Jake loved it.
Fast forward to now. Jake and I have obviously broken up – for a lot of different reasons. After Jake and I broke up and I had started a great new job, my eating/workout habits and weight went back to normal. My boobs, butt, hips, everything came back in full force and are are still here to stay. To be honest, I didn’t even really notice that I started putting back on the weight, I just really started feeling like myself again and my confidence just started to return back to normal. The lightbulb about my weight obsession went off a couple months ago when I started dating my new boyfriend. I was talking about how different dating him was compared to my past boyfriend because he just made me feel really, really good. I never, ever felt like he was putting me down or “digging” at me. He was just giving me authentic, thoughtful compliments that made me feel proud of my body. It was that moment when I realized that Jake’s obsession with my weight made me completely obsessed with my weight but when he was out of the picture, I went back to normal.
I tell this story because I think it’s important to really understand how your significant other makes you feel. In theory, your confidence shouldn’t ebb and flow with who you are dating but let’s be honest, sometimes it just does. To me, I have found that it’s so important to be with someone who makes you feel strong, powerful and beautiful at every stage of your life. It may be worth it to rethink being with someone who (maybe even sub-consciously) puts you down and makes you want to change the way you look.