I am a full figured woman.

 Do you know how long it took me to be able to type that sentence and not cringe?

Figure about 24 years, 8 months. Give or take. It seems like even when I was a baby there was someone going "Awwww! She's so pudgy she's cute! She'll grow out of it, lose that baby fat!" Fast forward ten years... still pudgy, still got that baby fat, stiiiill wondering why its a big deal.

I have always been a little on the... plus side. My brothers and cousins even had really mean nicknames for me when I was growing up, all centered around my weight problem. I never grew out of it, not really. And I still haven't learned to accept it totally. For years I've tried everything.. diets, workouts.. worse things. Anything, annnyyyything to try and shave a few pounds off, to feel a little better about the way I looked. Inevitably, all these efforts failed. Its a vicious, nasty cycle.

It begins when I see myself in the mirror, and start to poke my little flabby rolls and grumble. I think, "I can change! I can stop eating candy and I can stop drinking soda. I'll eat salads and drink water and I will grill things instead of deep frying! I'll do yogurt and granola, and I will eat fruits and veggies and I will lose weight and be..." Seriously. Haven't we all had this conversation, or some version based on our own insecurities, with ourselves? Why do I need to go over it again for you.

And you know what? I 'do' those things. For about 3 weeks. And then begins the second cycle... something stresses me out, or... well. PMS. Am I right? And there's that god awful check out lane at everywhere ever.. with all its tasty snacky things staring at me.. and I think "Just one. I've been so good. I deserve it."... man what a slippery slope.

And slowly my resolve drains. With every bite of that snickers bar, with every potato chip munched, and every sip of my soda... it fades away until I get to, "Well... I've always looked like this, and dammit I love food too much to change."

Lather, rinse, repeat. At least once every season.

And so here I am. At the beginning of the cycle. In June. Which, in my part of the world, is summer. When all the girls are wearing sun dresses, and short sleeves, and shorts! And the fashions today? Holy crap when did it become okay to wear bras and boyshort panties out as... clothing?

The last two months of summer have been excruciating. Let me insert here a tidbit about my circumstances. I recently relocated to California where literally everyone seems to be in perfect shape, and have perfect fashion sense, with perfect hair and perfect makeup and yes... I get a cookie each time I say perfect... and yes... I like cookies.

I, however, have none of these things. I am a short (read... very... short), plump girl. At the age of twenty-four I am just now learning how to really be a girl, much less a woman. In fact, two weeks ago I bought my first dress (that was not for prom or for a funeral). I've never been really sure of how to wear my hair, unless someone nudged me in a direction for it. Until recently, I'd never picked out lipstick based on skintone, or wore blush to bring some life to my pale pale face.

Let me repeat myself here..

I am a short, plump girl.

And I am learning, slowly, how to love myself and my body.

Its not an overnight change. I really.. really wish it was. Every time I leave the house I check and recheck the mirror. Do these jeans fit... okay? Can you see my pudge rolling over the top? Are my 'love handles' too obvious? Do my arms look okay in this tank top? Should I grab a jacket to hide? Should I change clothes? Loosen my belt a little? Find a baggier shirt? Am I going to turn into a blob when I sit down? .... Is someone going to think I'm pregnant instead of fat? Is that better than just being.. fat?

And it doesn't get any better from there. All day when I am out and about I catch myself glancing in windows as I walk by them, checking my reflection from a new angle, and more than once I've caught myself thinking "Holy crap when did I get so big?". Or when I'm anywhere sitting down I drag my tote bag onto my lap to hide my pudge. Or I will shove my hands into the pockets of my hoodie (I wear a hoodie in summer to hide!) because I am worried people can see me jiggle when I walk.

Those moments happen.. a lot. Far too often really...

But there are times lately that are the opposite. I pause in the mirror... and tilt my head and smile.. just a little because... dammit. Even at 4'11", in size 15 jeans, I don't look all that bad. Sure, I don't look like those skinny girls in magazines... and hell.. I don't even look half as 'toned' as the plus sized models either. But I'm not a model. On those days? Those days I feel like nothing in the world can stop me. And there seem to be more of those days lately.

I'm a real girl. I work as a barista, I play video games, I watch movies. I 'like' chocolate. I love cake. I love to bake, and I love to sample what I bake. I like french fries, and I like food that I can munch on. I. Like. Beer. (Oh god the empty calories!) I love my job, and my family, and I try, when I can, to love to exercise. I have found yoga quite pleasing (if incredibly frustrating... some positions you wind up with your chin in your cleavage when you're a girl my size.. and all that huffing and puffing turns into suffocating), and when I can I take a few minutes of my day to stretch out and relax and stop thinking about anything except my breath. I want to be healthy, but I also don't want to spend every minute of my day counting calories, or denying myself the things I'm craving just because I am worried about a few pounds here or there.

I'm a real girl. I am a short, plump girl.

I am a full figured woman.

And I am learning to be proud of that fact.

But it isn't easy, is it? As people... as women in this modern world.. we are always searching for validation, for confirmation, for comrades and people who understand us and our concerns. Maybe that's why I came here. Maybe (probably honestly) that is exactly why I wrote this tonight.

And while I will certainly spend the next.. god only knows how long.. thinking about the reasons I wrote this out now.. I leave you with this to ponder..

How do we let our insecurities shape our choices and our lives? And why do we let society prey upon those insecurities, and force us to feel shamed or guilty when we should be celebrating our uniqueness and individuality?

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