I don't know how to not be the fat girl.
I've had this thing my whole life.
"You'd be perfect for our group performance in the talent show...if you lost 10 pounds" I remember girls saying to me in 4th grade.
These same girls would quiz me on random pop culture or music lyrics and if I got them wrong they told me I would have to weigh myself in front of them.
I hated going shopping with my friends because I knew the stores they shopped at wouldn't have my size. So I would try to shrink myself into corners while they laughed and pulled clothes off hangers. I was the friend in the dressing room on the sofas that the store employees looked at with a "what are you doing here" look of disdain while I had to assure my size 6 friends they did not look fat in that skirt.
I would get uncomfortable at sporting events or amusement parks, scared that I wouldn't fit into the small seats.
I would always get shot gun when we were traveling in a big group...not because I have long legs like everyone claimed, but because you don't put the big girl in the seat everyone is squishing in to.
I was not the girl the boys asked out. I was the tag-a-long while my friends were breaking boys hearts all summer. I was the shoulder they cried on when the boys broke their hearts right back. Me giving relationship advice was about as equal as a goat teaching a driving lesson.
I wore sweatshirts in the middle of Indiana summers because I was trying to use as many layers as possible to hide my shame. In hindsight it's a miracle I didn't die of heatstroke.
I discovered a love of make up because it didn't have a size. I used it to make myself seem good enough. I mean I knew I wouldn't really be accepted but I wanted to try and look like I was trying. I didn't want people to look at me in sweatpants, messy hair, no make up and think "of course...sloppy fat person". I didn't want to be a cliche. "You have such a pretty face" is something I heard a lot...and all I heard were those 4th grade girls "if you lost x pounds"
I have learned a lot of things.
I learned how to develop a personality first. I started making jokes so I wouldn't be the joke.
I developed fortitude. You kind of have to learn how to let things roll off your back when you've been teased since you were 8 years old.
I learned compassion. I knew people made assumptions about me because of my weight so I learned to love others because I didn't know why they were the way they were or the things they were dealing with behind closed doors.
I developed confidence. I'm not really sure how. I think I finally just decided that I had more to offer the world than a number on a scale. I was smart, creative, empathetic, nurturing, and kind. That was what the world needed.
And now here I am. I have lost 70 pounds (and still losing) and I have become more "acceptable" by society standards. And I don't know how to do that sometimes. I still walk through the plus size section at work thinking those are the only clothes that fit me (even though all of those clothes are actually too big for me now...weird). I actually had a woman the other day ask me if I knew anything about plus sizes and I wanted to scream "yes! I used to be you!"
I still get taken aback when a guy asks for my phone number because in my mind I'm still that girl who watches their friends get asked for their number. Swear to you I have actually turned around and looked behind me to see if the guy was talking to someone else.
I have lived 2 lives. This one is definitely easier (which is completely ridiculous and our society should re-evaluate pretty much everything) but I wouldn't trade the first life for anything. I love first Vanessa because she taught me how to be a good human being and develop all the qualities I want to have...and I love second Vanessa because she has the energy to share those qualities with others.
I am grateful. I will know how to teach my children love. Love of others and love of themselves. I will know how to teach them hard work and how to dream big dreams because they can become reality. I know how to show them that self worth is so much deeper than the shallow views of the world. It is the spiritual and celestial potential that our Heavenly Father has for us. I have become the person my Savior died for - because He did not die for me because of my jean size. He died for me because He loves me and those deeper qualities I have.
Heavenly Father knew I needed these lessons in my life. And again I'm so grateful. I love my life and I wouldn't trade a single second of it.