I’m 10 years old, in the fourth grade, and I’m already going through puberty.
My classmates and friends are all still tiny beanpoles, and I have Double D breasts.
One day, there’s a new kid in my class and he thinks I’m the teacher. I’m so embarrassed.
I learn pretty quickly that I can’t come home and pound junk food and candy after school with my friends anymore, because I start gaining weight pretty quickly if I do.
People call me Thunder Thighs all the time. They have for as long as I can remember.
It’s just who I am. I’m the stocky girl with the big legs and now the big boobs, and I don’t fit in.
Why am I the only one who looks this way?
I feel so uncomfortable in my own skin.
The Dance Days
I’m surrounded by people with eating disorders. Some of them are actually pretty open about it.
I get influenced by them here and there, but it’s never out of control for me. I mean, I never make myself throw up and I never completely starve myself, but there is always an attempt to eat less.
Calories are bad. Dressing on salad must be avoided at all times. Consume as little as possible because you have to fit into your costume.
But regardless of what I do, it seems I’m never going to make it as a dancer anyway, because of the way my body looks. It’s something that’s reiterated to me by a judge: You should really wear long sleeves because your arms are too flabby.
I’m just the girl with the Thunder Thighs, the Double Ds and now the flabby arms.
The Early CrossFit Days
It’s 2017: I start CrossFit because I want to lose weight, and I quickly learn that my thunder thighs might just have a place here. I kind of feel like I fit in. I kind of feel normal.
But I do feel a certain amount of pressure. Pressure from the coaches to eat a strict Paleo diet.
So I try it and lose a bunch of weight. Pretty quickly, I start being able to see my abs, and the muscles in my arms are becoming more and more defined.
My boyfriend, though, doesn’t like it.
You’re looking too muscular. It’s not feminine.
The TV Days
I’m fit and muscular from CrossFit and am working in TV as a news anchor.
People write in to the station all the time saying that I don’t look feminine. That I look like I’m transgendered.
One guy calls me at the station every Saturday night once I’m finished doing the news and tells me I look like I’m on steroids because no woman’s arms look like that naturally.
Even my managers pressure me to wear long sleeves to cover up my muscular arms, because it will make me more relatable to the viewer.
At this stage, I’m less bothered by it all than I was when I was a teenager, but it’s still annoying. It still hurts. I know I have worked my ass off to be strong and healthy and I’m doing my best to try and feel good about my body.
Me at 30
I’m no longer pressured to eat Paleo, no longer with that guy, and no longer working in mainstream broadcasting, and for the first time in my life I have embraced my body.
I’m the healthiest I have ever been.
I like how my legs look. It doesn’t bother me that they’re big. They’re strong, they can back squat almost 300 pounds. That’s so cool. Not many women, or men, I know can say that.
Sure, there’s still an image in my head of the ideal body that I would love to have, and I’m not sure that will ever totally go away.
But I also know what my healthy weight is now, what my healthy body is, and how much food I need to consume to be healthy and perform well long-term.
I genuinely don’t want to be a display model only, or a DMO, as the kids say. Today, I actually want to look strong, and be strong.
So yes, for the first time in my life, on most days, I can actually say my ideal body really is myself.