I’ve always been a healthy sized girl since the day I can remember. I came out of my mother’s womb at 9 lbs and 13 ounces. My mom had to have a c-section because I was so big. She always tells me how plumped my cheeks were and how many times she bit me on them because they were so enticing. Everyone loves a chubby baby and it’s cute to be chunky as child, but not so much when you get older. However as I grew older I was actually what society would call a “normal sized kid.” My parents fed me well balanced meals and although I loved food, they never fed me an over abundance. When I was 9 years old I moved in with my grandparents to go to school in the suburbs. At the time my role models were Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Beyonce. All three of them had extremely flat stomachs and belly button rings. I loved belly button rings. I dreamed of a day when 16 year old me was skinny and flaunting a shiny belly button ring, while wearing a midriff top, (none of which happened in real life.) My grandmom cooked well balanced meals for me as well. But I had a little bit more freedom to eat what I wanted and when I wanted in her home. Even though I was at a healthy weight as a kid I always had a wide face, chunky cheeks, and firm butt. My family members would always throw comments out there like, “look at her little fat face,” or “I wanna pinch those fat cheeks.” Those comments may have been light hearted and made out of love, but all I heard is one word, FAT. My grandmother soon realized that I really liked food and she soon started to comment about how I needed to stop eating so much. At that age she never really fat shamed me, however when my great aunt moved in, that’s when the fat shaming began. She would always comment on how chunky or chubby I was, which was not the case at all. Like I said before, I was a healthy weight for a child my age. So I think the fact that I loved food, just as she had and did all her life and the fact that I had a chubby face (Like all 9-year olds did at that time), she felt it was necessary to call me out on it, every time she saw me. She even developed a nickname name for me, “Miss Piggy,” and although I loved sesame street as a toddler and Miss Piggy was one of my favorite characters, I hated when she called me that. I started talking in full sentences at 9 months, so I was a very bright child. It didn’t take me long to put things together and figure out underlying messages and the underlying message behind “Missy Piggy,” was that I was fat. So fat that I resembled a pig and no one wanted to be seen as a pig. So that name and all the rest of the fat shaming comments ate away at me and she even had an influence on the rest of my family members because they started calling me it too. Till this day my name is saved as “Miss Piggy” in my younger cousin’s phone because it literally turned into a family nickname and it still bothers me every now and then. I remember one Christmas my great Aunt bought me pajamas with little piggies on them, the piggies where cute, so I didn’t feel too bad. However I did feel bad when my extremely skinny, size -0 (no exaggeration she was a legit negative zero) received monkey pajamas because to me she was saying I was a pig and she was monkey, which is also another degrading thing to call someone, but at 9-years old I didn’t understand the history behind that. Why couldn’t I have gotten the monkey pajamas? Monkeys were way skinnier than pigs, so there I was again being labeled as the fat one of the family. The crazy thing is that I was nowhere close to fat, but after you are repeatedly told something over and over and over again, you start to believe it and see it. When I looked in the mirror I saw a way bigger image of myself than how people saw me in real life. I look back at my third and fourth grade pictures now and say, “wow I was never fat, but I thought I was so big here.” I don’t think my aunt or anyone in my family put any thought into how much these comments were affecting me, but they started to take me to a very dark place. I don’t remember how my eating disorder started because it was during childhood and it was not a fun time in my life so I try to forget about it. My mom always tells me her sister, (my regular aunt) is the one who found out that I was throwing up after every meal I ate. I just remember chowing down two hotdogs and then upchucking them in my bathroom. The thing is, I didn’t even really see this as a problem, I thought that it was a quick way to lose weight. My aunt told my mom and dad about it and they brought me back home for a while, to see if I could get help with this issue. After throwing things up for a while, I later just stopped eating as a whole. My mom tells me that this went on for about 3 weeks to a month and she started to see my ribcage. I was starting to look skeletor and that’s a sad sight to see on the body of a 9-year-old. My parents took me to the doctor and he put me on pediasure, so that I could at least get some type of nourishment in my body. He urged me to start eating and so did my parents, but it wasn’t that simple. I had came to a point where I actually wanted to eat, but my mind and body would not let me. I suffered from severe hunger pains and headaches and no matter how hard I tried to eat I could not. I come from a God fearing family, My grandpop is the Bishop of our Pentecostal holiness church. So whenever someone is feeling like they are not in control of their body, it is assumed that some type of evil spirit has possessed them to feel that way. I remember attending church one Sunday and towards the end of the service my grandfather called me up for prayer. All the saints in the church came up as well and they laid their hands on me and started praying. I was praying along with them to myself, “God please help me eat, I’m so sorry for doing this, please give me my appetite back. I want to like food again.” A few days after that something amazing happened. I remember being in the back seat of my dad’s car and he and my mom stopped at Wendy’s for something to eat. After they told the cashier what they wanted they looked back at me and asked,”Do you want to try to eat something Whit?” I said yes and ordered a chicken sandwich, on that day I had finally ate a full meal for the first time in four weeks. From that day on I was able to eat normally and I finally overcame my eating disorder. Sometimes when I tell people this story I just say, “Yeah I stopped eating for like four weeks when I was young,” because for a while I didn’t really consider it as an eating disorder, even though that’s exactly what it was. I also said that because I feel sensitive to other people out there, who have had eating disorders for a longer period of time. I guess I thought that their ED’s were more serious than mine, but that’s not the case at all. It doesn’t matter if you stop eating for one day or one year, it is still a serious problem. Especially if your insecurities, fat shamers or bullies have brought you to a point where you want to deprive yourself of a lifelong necessity, like food. I thank God that I never went back to that dark place at any other point in my life. However the fat shaming from my great aunt and other family members continued and still continues till this day. I just learned to ignore it and brush things off and try to ignore it, but words will haunt you to the day you die. I don’t want to come off as a victim and make it seem like I came from a non-loving family because that was not the case at all. In fact my family are huge jokers, so we never mean any harm in what we say. However, my body was always a touchy subject and no matter how hard I tried to laugh along with the jokes it still hurt. I continued to feel insecure about my body and these insecurities followed me all the way through high school and even affected any kind of relationship or interaction I had with males. At age 23, I still have yet to have an official relationship and my body insecurities played a huge part in that. Whenever a guy seems disinterested in me or if he is uber attractive I will automatically assume that they do not/will not like me because my weight and I won’t even try to pursue them. However I have recently started to practice self love and I am slowly trying to love myself the way I am, no matter what my size is. At times it is hard because I sometimes go back to feeling the way I felt during those “Miss Piggy” days, but then I say to myself, “I can overcome this, I am beautiful.” If Miss Piggy can be chunky and fierce, I can too.” I’m redefining what it means to be Miss Piggy.