Fifteen years ago I was you. Shy, quiet, (blonde), and unhappy, feeling myself the token fat girl. The irony is that looking at this picture, I’m really not that much different weight wise than most of my friends surrounding me. This was, clearly, one of those situations where it was all in my head. But it was enough, because by the time I graduated I had put on more weight. At 18 years old I was wearing a size 18, a pattern (wearing my age) that continued for the next ten years.
Then, of course, came the Freshman Fifteen.
The above picture was taken at the end of freshman year at BG (and hopefully Tosch and Tim won’t totally want to kill me for posting this). It’s still six months until you’re a redhead and a year until that first tattoo. I also really kind of miss that sweater with its wicked bell sleeves.
Now, in a few years — the summer between junior and senior year of college — you’ll sign up for Weight Watchers for the first time. You’ll do pretty well, too, losing about 49 lbs by your 22nd birthday and getting down to roughly 220 lbs.
This means that by the end of junior year of college you weighed in at 269 and you were so relieved that at least you weren’t 270. Ah, if only you knew what numbers were ahead. But, of course, you don’t. You have no idea what is coming, the good and the bad. If you did know, would you have made different choices? Would I be me if you hadn’t been you?
Something about losing 49 lbs was too much. Something snapped and you slowly started to gain it back. So by the time you attended the wedding of a college friend a few months after graduation, you were back to 269, possibly more.
(Okay, if anyone is going to kill me for these pictures, it’s totally going to be Snog.)
Over the next 8 years, you gain some, you lose some. Over and over again. Three years ago, after a really bad break-up you’ll lose 45 lbs again. But, yet again, something snaps at around 45 lbs and you gain it all back plus some, which is how I got us up to 311 lbs.
There is some good news, though: The people in these pictures? With the exception of a few from the first picture at homecoming (and, of course, with the exception of Eddie Izzard), I’m still friends with everyone seen. In fact, that first picture was uploaded to Facebook by Lex , sitting there on your left (I also fully blame her for the inspiration to dig through old photographs). I’ve also picked up some new ones along the way: Girls you’re sharing classes with, passing by in the hallway with nothing more than a polite smile, are women I now consider dear friends.
Here’s some other good news: That bad break up? That, more than anything else, has defined who I am at this exact moment. And while I won’t tell you who he is, know that it will catch you by surprise when it starts, take your breath away when it ends, and take you a really long time to recover. But that recovery becomes one the single most important experiences you will ever go through. Of course, if there is one choice I which I could make again it would be how I responded in the aftermath, but c’est la vie. So it goes sometimes. But know this: at 15 you’ve pretty much resigned yourself to life as an old maid. Love, however, is on its way for you. And it’s on its way for me, too. Only difference is, your unhappiness at being single will cause you to make some, ah, unwise choices in college whereas I’ve found myself again being single and am happy where I am until it comes along.
And, the final piece I offer: Today I went shopping. I bought work pants and jeans. In a size 18. I can’t remember the last time I wore an 18. I mean, a year ago I was in a 28 and here I am now. I also bought a dress. Again. Second dress in a week. That dress you wore to homecoming? Hated it, right? Hated most dresses. They felt uncomfortable and out of character. Now, though, dresses make us feel sexy and sleek, hugging our curves which you will also learn to embrace in a positive and personal manner and not just as the only worthy part of you.
It’s going to take time. Fifteen years, to be exact, which to you probably seems like an impossibly long time but to me it’s gone by so fast. Tomorrow morning I’ll be at yoga, a Saturday morning ritual that has transformed my life, and this morning I ran a mile and a half. We do still have terrible math skills, since my mile time from last week was a few minutes off, but it’s still faster than what you were doing at the far more athletic age of 15.
Tomorrow night I’m going to see the movie Titanic. Chances are you probably are, too, which is really just kind of weird. Tonight, though, I’m planning on putting on my new little black dress and going out with Lauren and Lisa.You haven’t met them yet, but trust me, you’re gonna love them.
You’re also going to love my life.
Love from the