by Gabrielle Legall

Seeing myself as fat and ugly was not how I always viewed myself. Growing up in Guyana, I have always enjoyed being myself. I was confident, very outgoing and always had my friends laughing. I grew up in a culture where skinny was not seen as attractive but rather as being poor. Somewhere around primary four (sixth grade), I lost my confidence and happiness in who I was. Even though my weight and my image was accepted by my friends and family, I still felt insecure. I was also one of the tallest and fattest girls in my class which of course didn’t help to build my confidence. As we got older, I also began to realize that the boys were mainly interested in the girls with long hair, light skin and thin bodies. Even though I was teased about my weight especially by the boys, I was the type of person who laughed everything off even though I felt terrible inside. Even though my friends still saw me as this cool person that always made them laugh, I began to withdraw myself because I no longer felt confident in my own skin.

Being introduced to cable back home in Guyana also didn’t help how I felt about myself. I loved the Disney channel, but it fed my insecurities. All the girls on the shows were mainly white or light skinned, skinny and really beautiful. All of which I didn’t see in myself. Having cable was both good and bad. It was bad in that it made me even more insecure but good in that it drove me to lose weight. I remember how great I felt as I began to lose weight, but even though I was getting smaller in size it still wasn’t good enough. Even when I came to America three years ago I still continued to push myself to lose weight. Last year in the beginning of my senior year of high school I just got tired. Tired of trying to be like the women in the magazines and tired of hating my body. I realized that I was aspiring to be like someone else who probably had a problem with their body as well. To this day I now appreciate my body and my beauty and I no longer let anyone make me feel bad about myself. Society’s view on what the ideal body and look is unfortunately isn’t mine.

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