Words by: Andrea Selvarajah Art by: Sophie McKenzie-Stripp
In year eight, I was extremely confident, but more importantly I was in love. It was with a pimple-faced, scrawny, pre-pubescent boy who wanted to be an actor.
One day, I remember sitting with my legs crossed on the floor with my friends when he looked down and said, “you have fat thighs.” This comment haunted me.
I was 14 years old, already insecure about my legs, and now I had his voice replaying in my head for
all the wrong reasons. The confidence I had arguably built in middle school came crumbling down in
an instant, and the love I thought I knew, just didn’t exist anymore.
In so many ways, I was visibly and invisibly different to my friends. We expressed ourselves differently, we were passionate about different things and we didn’t always share the same goals. On top of that, I also came from a different background. I have a darker skin tone, was slightly hairier, and now, also different thanks to the size of my thighs.
I began watching weight loss videos that night, and naturally, I started with Jillian Michaels’ Killer Buns and Thighs routine. I wanted to change my body because I felt it was the only thing I could control. However, sadly, it didn’t pan out the way I thought it would.
During this time, I failed to show myself any compassion. I failed to properly acknowledge my grades for the successes they were, nor did I give myself any extra credit for my middle school political career. I was driven, smart and balancing five different extracurriculars, however for some reason I was still focused on appeasing a boy who looked like he probably hadn’t even seen a leg before. Who was he to tell me what a thigh should look like?
Eventually, I got straighter teeth, had my braces removed, and moved countries. This was when everything changed. I met people who made me value myself, I made friends who gave me the chance to rebuild, and I was surrounded by others who lifted me up in so many ways. This gave me the confidence to see how much I had to offer the world. My friends treated me with kindness and respect while showing me a real and genuine kind of love.
It was in this environment where people didn’t see me as ugly or different — they simply saw me as me. Not only did this urge me to reflect on who I was, but it also made me think about who I wanted to be.
Love is accepting.
My first fight with my best friend was about a boy who didn’t even like me. This was stupid and trivial, but at the time, it felt like my whole world was crash- ing down. This fight, understandably, did not last very long, however, it did make a mark that we are bound to remember for the rest of our relationship.
During our fight, we were able to pick out every single flaw the other had, whilst relentlessly hurting the people who tried to bring us back together. While traumatic at the time, this fight showed me that my friends cherish me in spite of my flaws — and so I should do the same.
Now, I see myself as a person that can be loved and that deserves love, with a pair of killer legs on top of it. But no matter how far I’ve come, I know self- love is a never-ending journey, and I look forward to seeing where it will take me.