My high school taught me I will never be loved.
I remember it vividly. It was 8th grade, and my “sex Ed” health class had a guest lecturer. I put the sex Ed in quotes because the class wasn’t about sexual education, it was sexual prevention. Trying to trick the youthful 13 year olds who were sitting in that room into abstinence. And in the process, failing to teach anything about the education of sex. Anyways, we were sitting on the dirty floor of an abandoned science classroom, half listening to this person talking about STDs.
She said that if you’re a girl, and something comes out of your vagina, you have an STD. She literally said that. Which, if you’re not familiar with female anatomy, is not true. There are many healthy reasons why “something comes out of your vagina”. But the wrong information she taught us isn’t the reason for the story.
After she talked about that and other STDs, she transitioned into what the opposite gender finds attractive. Yes. She literally gave us a list of how to be attractive to the other gender. She didn’t give a disclaimer like “oh this is what research shows 70% of males are into”. Nope. She acted as if the words she were saying were 100% true for every gender (nor did she acknowledge that males could like other males). But this was public school education at its finest.
She then decided it would be a wonderful idea to show the class of 45 how right she was. So she asked this simple question, that of course, wouldn’t offend anybody. She asked, “boys, would you date a girl taller than you?”
We sat there silently as no one’s hand rose up. My cheeks began to redden knowing that, at 5’10 I towered most of my 13 year old peers. Especially the males. A single hand rose, our local drug dealer whom I wouldn’t be surprised if he lost his virginity at the age of 10.
I sat in silence and embarrassment as this person continued to talk about how boys don’t like girls taller than them. How that was very “unattractive” to them. And in my self loathing 13 year old self, I believed her.
Before that day, I was a star athlete. I was on track to be on varsity the next year for volleyball, basketball, and track. I was and academic all star, being in honors courses and having a 4.0. I was confident, I had good friends and loved to make people laugh.
But after that speech, I stood a little less tall. I was a little less confident. I felt a little less loved. And I had no hope.
My friends were all petite and beautiful girls. Either blonde or full chested. I was neither. I was a very tall, muscular girl, with long brown hair. I was never the girl who boys liked, and up until then I either didn’t notice or care.
I remember once, I was in the hall walking to art class and this girl ran up to me and yelled “he has a crush on you” as a boy chased behind her. Even though it was embarrassing for him, I was ecstatic. Well until he yelled “no I don’t” as he went pass me. I was only partially crushed.
I’ve learned how irrelevant this woman was growing up, but it still doesn’t erase the years of her voice playing over and over in my head anytime a guy talks to me.
Flash forward 4 years. I was in the car with my boy friend at the time (he was 2 inches taller than me for the record), and he said “I love your curves” in that moment I was in heaven. No one boy had ever told me that before. It was a mere .5 seconds later when he then completed his though “I love your curves… I love how you just don’t care” and in that moment I was crushed again.
My mother says I have an hour glass figure, my shoulders and my hips are the same length and I have a tiny waist. Well, my when my hips are huge and my waist is tiny, my curves are very curvy.
But to his surprise, I do care that my hips are curvy. I’ve tried to reduce the amount of curve my hips have my dieting and working out, and nothing as worked. You can literally see my hip bone, no amount of working out will change my bone structure. But when he said that, I lost ever ounce of self confidence I had. I was 17.
I dated and slept around some more, and suddenly during my second semester of college I started dating a body builder. Things were going great until I asked him to be my trainer. That moment on, he would verbally judge everything I hate, everything I wore, and everything I did. He would make me track my calories, and shun me if I didn’t meet my goals. He would make me feel guilty whenever I skipped a gym day to study for an exam. He would make it a point to say that I haven’t been showing progress because I am lying to myself with the amount of work I had been doing. And when I had enough of him doing that, when I told him I didn’t want him to be my trainer anymore, he would make passive aggressive comments towards me. He would treat me like an idiot when we were at the gym, not correcting my form, but acting as if I were using a machine wrong (which fun fact, I’ve been weight lifting for 7 years, I know how to leg press).
And in his words and actions, he made me feel weak. And he made me ashamed of my body.
Needless to say, we broke up.
So now it’s just me, on a voyage to finally learn to love my body. I still have the words that these people in my life have implanted in me- that I am too tall, too curvy, and uncommitted. And every day I am working on replacing those words.
Ya I’m fucking tall. But I don’t feel scared walking home at night, and I can reach the top shelf every time.
And I am curvy. I had a friend who told me I had good birthing hips. Not sure what that means, but if it means I’m able to give birth better, I’ll take it.
I am committed. I’m committed to learning to love myself and to keeping myself healthy (with an occasional bowl of ice cream here or there).
We’ve all have heard the phrase “words hurt”. But when they come from a person of authority or a loved one, they can burn even worse.
I can only beg schools to stop teaching young kids about beauty standards. Young girls and boys have enough pressure, they don’t need to school system telling them what is and isn’t attractive.
To any woman out there who is being told her body isn’t beautiful, that it isn’t standard, tell them to fuck off. Beauty isn’t defined by a list of things. Christmas lights and flowers are beautiful and they look nothing alike.