One day when I was in sixth grade, I was in the locker room changing out of my clothes after gym class. There was one girl in my class who I considered to be my friend, though she was extremely outspoken and was known for sometimes saying rude things to people. As I was putting my jeans back on, she looked at me and said in a very matter-of-fact tone, “you have the biggest butt I have ever seen”.
As is the case with many young women, I developed in some ways far earlier than most girls. For me this meant that I had the hips of a woman by the age of 11. When you’re in middle school, the pressure to be cool and fit in is heavily emphasized more than ever (whatever happened to the innocence of elementary school?). And for many girls, this means an increasing focus on your body and how other people perceive it. So not only are you going through natural, awkward physical changes, but you’re constantly worrying about it and wishing things were different.
Despite the comment made to me in the locker room, I tried to be at peace with my body. The idea of being obsessively concerned with my appearance terrified me, so I did my absolute best to avoid it. Still, pressures to be thin and to look a certain way would get to me from time to time, as it did everyone. I was always worried what people thought about my hips and my thighs, so I did my best to hide them and not think about them. If I didn’t think about it, maybe no one else would.
During my junior year of high school, I had to dress up for an event where potential students were visiting the school and I needed to give tours and answer questions. We had to wear button up shirts and either black pants or black skirts, and in an act of self-confidence I decided to buy a tight pencil skirt and wear it for this event. Though the event was at night, most people were going to wear their outfits that day at school, so I did too. During one passing period I was walking up some stairs, and one girl behind me not-so-subtly said to her friend “look how huge her butt is”. Again, I was made to feel super self-conscious about a part of me that I absolutely could not change.
Concerns like that are so hard to get over. Even today, years after these incidents, I am still really self-conscious about my hips and thighs. It can sometimes feel like a constant battle with myself, where I try to believe that my body is beautiful and my curves are part of who I am, but that belief is always over-shadowed by the thought of people talking about my shape behind my back. Which is so dumb! Why should I care what other people think of me, especially in college where those kinds of pressures are practically non-existent?
With the growing body positivity movement, loving my body is slowly becoming easier for me, yet still I struggle. If you’re also struggling to love part of your body that you are self-conscious about, know that it’s okay! Social media can make it seem almost mandatory to love your body and be comfortable in your skin, and it’s okay if you’re not there yet. Messages like “everyone is beautiful” can sometimes go in one ear and out the other, thinking that you’re the exception. I am slowly starting to learn that I am not the exception, and as long as you’re open and hopeful that someday you’ll believe that about yourself, then I think you’re doing just fine.