97. Big Girl, Big World

97. Big Girl, Big World

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident

Big Girl, Big World

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was sitting at my desk in a great mood when a co-worker casually walked by my cubby. “Hey, I never noticed before,” he said, “but you’re pretty cute . . . for a big girl.”

It was a backhanded compliment I’d heard before, and I’m sure he thought he was flattering me. But adding anything after “cute” was unnecessary and an insult and just plain rude. “Cute” and “big” are not mutually exclusive, and attractiveness isn’t determined by size.

I can’t remember my response, but I’m sure it was something like: “I’m cute . . . period.”

I was tormented in my youth for not fitting into “normal” sized clothes. I had to have my choir dresses special ordered because they were plus-sized, and my teacher had to alter the dance moves in a routine one time because my partner could not lift me up at the end of the number.

At home, my stepfather teased that he would have to pay someone to escort me to senior prom. (He didn’t, but fearing that reality for four years did a lot of emotional damage.)

As a “minority” you find ways to cope. I made sure to perform — I was always “on”, singing and dancing and making people laugh. It masked the hurt of my heaviness.

It wasn’t until college that I was seen as a person, not defined by weight or color, but for my personality. College was a different world. I was catcalled, whistled at, and guys approached me with genuine interest. At first, I didn’t know how to process it. I thought I was the dare they lost or a prank that would later blow up in my face, but the other shoe never dropped.

“You’re pretty cute . . . for a big girl.”

My college experiences helped me grow and taught me the value of self-worth and love. Now size, just like age, is nothing but a number. I know I look good and my fiancé threatens to leave me if I lose too much weight. He says I “barely made the (weight) requirement.”

I make sure I eat right and I’m working on exercising more. I feel good, I look good and I am good. And I will continue to educate the uninformed that just because I am big, it doesn’t make everything else about me small.

To the universe at large, I am only a grain of sand, so, in fact, my bigness is insignificant. But I am a force to be reckoned with.

And I’m cute. Period.

~Shantell Antoinette

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