“Fat,” “chubby,” “overweight,” “curvy,” “big,” “chunky,” “stout,” “plump,” “obese.” I have used each one of those adjectives frequently to describe myself over the years. I convinced myself long ago that if I insult myself and acknowledge my weight outright, I will ward off any offense from others. By being my own worst enemy, I will make all my other critics seem tame.
Acknowledging my weight is easy. Hearing about it from doctors and family members on a regular basis certainly makes my own admission roll off the tongue. My weight is my character, my excuse, and my identity.
Like so many others, I saw college as an opportunity for reinvention. Before move-in day, I scoped out the gym hours. I wrote down the pool’s lap-swim shifts. I looked up recipes for adventurous salads to create at the cafeteria salad bar. I was going to exercise every early morning before class. I was going to take advantage of classes and food choices. Meanwhile, I would keep myself encased in my fortress of self-hatred, proclaiming my fat to all my new friends.
Acknowledging my fear is hard. When having weight is comfortable, losing weight is terrifying. I am afraid of failing. I am afraid of working hard and setting goals and never reaching them. I am afraid of being bad at running or not being able to do a sit-up. I am afraid of not swimming my laps as fast as I planned to.
More than anything, I am afraid of being thin. I am afraid of what my weight will prove about other people. I am afraid that I will finally be asked out on a date. I am afraid that people will tell me I look beautiful. I am afraid that people will be friendly. I am afraid that someone will be proud of me. I am afraid that thin me will be more successful, more valued, more loved.
Now, two years into my college career, I really am reinventing. I’m no thinner than I was on my move-in day. I go to the campus pool to swim laps. I take walks by the nearby river. I make salads in the cafeteria. I also eat pizza with friends at midnight. I snooze until 7:40 on the mornings of my 8:00am class. And bit-by-bit I am dismantling my body-shaming fortress.
This year, I have discovered a multitude of body-positive icons. Meghan Tonjes proudly posted her rear-end selfie and fought back at the society that shamed it. Gabi Gregg shows off her incredible style and brings fashion to the masses with her blog, Gabifresh. Beautiful and successful public figures such as Mindy Kaling and Lena Dunham inspire me to flout societal norms and love myself.
Motivated by these icons, I declare this season “The Summer of Self-Love.” This is the summer of going for a walk on a beautiful day because it makes me feel good. It’s the time for plunking the scale in the closet and leaving it there. This season is for putting a bikini in my online shopping cart and maybe even buying it. This is for doing what makes my body feel good and makes me happy. This summer is about loving myself with all the right adjectives.
Maggie Surdovel is a Music Education student from Pennsylvania. She enjoys desserts, RomComs, and singing opera. She hopes to one day play maracas and sing folk songs with children on a daily basis. In addition to drinking coffee and avoiding schoolwork, she spends her time buying shoes and tweeting at celebrities. For her favorite movie quotes and classical music puns, you can follow her on Twitter @MagSurd.