Talk Back

Why I Am Here for the Ebony Cover

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I was fat growing up. How fat?  Well, I was 102 pounds in second grade fat.  I was, “Let’s buy your clothes from the ‘Pretty Plus’ section of the department store” fat.  I was last picked for the gym, first to be teased by the other kids, and just generally fat fat.

And you know, while I liked a lot of things about myself as a kid, being fat was something I just always wished was different.  Maybe the other kids would want to be my friend if I was thinner, perhaps many of the adults in my life, even some of my own family members, would approve of me more if I was smaller.  I didn’t know, but I thought that maybe, just maybe, if I was thinner, one of the little snot-nosed boys I used to like back in elementary school would actually like me back.

In my mind, I was just the cutest little girl you ever would see, but no little boy my age would ever be able to like me because of my weight.  That may sound like a strange thing for a young girl to think, but I came to the conclusion with good reason.  All of the men in my life seemed to be in love with thin women and all of the boys my age adored the skinny stars on the covers of the magazines like TLC, Halle Berry and Aaliyah.  So, I just figured that to be small was to be desirable and since I wasn’t small, I wasn’t desirable.  Plus, when I would talk about wanting to be thinner so I could be prettier, no one ever corrected me and told me I was just fine the way I was, they always encouraged me to “keep trying” to lose the weight.

And try, I did.

But by my senior year of high school, I was bigger than ever (nearly 175 lbs. at 5’4″) and to make matters worse, now those little skinny, Britney Spears and Destiny’s Child girls were on every single magazine cover.  In fact, you couldn’t look anywhere and see a teen celebrity described as “beautiful” who was anywhere near my size.  All of my thin friends got much more attention from boys than I did and when I would meet a young man who was interested in me, I would actually sabotage our teen “romance,” because in my mind, he could surely do better.

Even I realized that sabotaging relationships was a little extreme, so I decided I would put an end to my desirability problem once and for all.  I made up my mind that not only was I going to lose weight, but was going to be skinny like the girls on the magazine covers.  Once I was that size, I reasoned, I would feel more deserving of love and wouldn’t purposefully end relationships with perfectly nice guys.

So I really committed myself to working out and going on all types of diets. Soup diets, salad diets, cereal diets. You name it, I tried it. They all worked for a period, but after a few months, the pounds would inevitably creep back on.  So finally in 2011, I started working out regularly and became a vegan. I lost all of the weight I’d ever wanted to lose and I kept it off. But I’m still single.

You see, being smaller may have made me healthier in some respects, but it didn’t make me any more or less desirable. And while admittedly, I’ve been or more dates since I lost the weight, they haven’t necessarily been better dates.  In fact, I have attracted more shallow, self-serving, narcissistic guys in the past 5 years than I would ever care to admit to.  That’s why Truly Sylvia’s relationship articles are always lit because I’ve dealt with enough jerks to know exactly what to do, but I digress.

That’s why I cried when I saw Ebony’s March 2016 cover, because it showed, gorgeous, voluptuous women who all looked pretty darn incredible.    It shattered the myth that there’s only one “desirable” size. You can be “Plus Size” and still S-L-A-Y Hunty!  More importantly, with a single photograph, it taught the lesson I wished I had learned when I was 20 years younger—that you shouldn’t have to convince people to love you.  You’re amazing exactly as you are.  And if people can’t see your beauty, then “deuces” to them, because they didn’t deserve a place in your life anyway.

I applaud Ebony for their cover and I hope to see a lot more of it. We have an entire generation of young girls we need to save from the dramatic, self-loathing period I and so many other “pretty plus” girls experiences as they come of age.

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