mostly because he is an a**hole.
Everything was changing. It was like my body was a stranger that I had to awkwardly face every day. When did I get boobs? They seemingly grew overnight from an A cup to a C. My thighs went from stick thin to curvy; I had to abandon my favorite pair of jeans after that. The only thing that seemed to stick was the pudginess around my stomach that my Mom lovingly called “baby fat.” She would constantly remind me that I would be stuck with that fat for a while. It was part of a “Thomas Women” curse. Apparently all of my changes were similar to my mother’s side. “We are just built that way,” my mother pointed out. It seemed so unfair that some girls were lucky enough to have those boyish thin figures while my body couldn’t decide what it had. I wasn’t classically curvy, not plus size, but not thin. I was completely average and at the time I thought it was the worst thing I could be.
By the time I reached eighth grade I had gotten used to my chest size, my thighs, and my “baby fat.” At that point, being invisible had its perks. There was a still a small part of me that wanted every boy to notice me like they did Denise Dalton*. The queen bee, who at one point a long time ago (We’re talking 5th grade), was my best friend. Puberty had done her way too many favors, which apparently left the rest of the girls in my grade with nothing. There were girls who were even more awkward then I was (which is saying a hell of a lot.) Their bodies had betrayed them way worse than mine ever could. These girls would get noticed by boys too, but were ridiculed for their “imperfections.” I thought myself lucky, that I was practically invisible to that kind of public shaming.
It was almost Spring of my eighth grade year and I was in a good place. I had stop being so boy crazy due to recent events that proved that I was not equipped to handle a boyfriend. Sure, I still had crushes. My hormones proved to be stronger then my brain in these cases. Jack* had, of course, broken up with my good friend Jenny* and had moved on to several other girls. His latest victim was Janet*, a newer classmate who had become an acquaintance to my small group of friends. He had broken her heart and she was less than thrilled with it.
Over their two-week courtship, Jack had done a lot of talking. Spilling secrets to her about his previous girlfriends. Janet in an act of revenge, held nothing back, telling every girl how Jack felt about her. How April*, his first girlfriend, was a stuck up prude. Or even how much Breanna Morris* wasn’t. They were all reasons why he eventually broke up with them. Sometimes even for ridiculous reasons like, Kayla’s (the curvy seventh grader) hairy man arms. The insults didn’t stop at just his girlfriends. He even went into reasons why he didn’t date certain girls. Starting with his number one fan, me.
It was bad news, when Janet came strolling by my table at lunch. The look of concern had taken over her usual smile, like she was going to tell me that my dog had died. She sat down, unraveling a story that would change me forever. She started with the fact that she thought I was one of prettiest and nicest girls at this school. (I was one of the first to talk to her when she moved mid school year.) One day she had asked Jack why he had never went out with me, she of course, hearing the rumor that I was deeply in love with him. He replied with, “I guess she is pretty, but she kind of has a beer belly.” It took a second for my brain to comprehend what was said. A beer belly? A BEER BELLY? I knew what it meant, even though, at the ripe age of thirteen, my “baby fat” did not come from having one too many.
After hearing those words, I was crushed. My best friend Anna* went into a full rage. She knew how much I pictured Jack as a perfect specimen. How, even though he had crushed by heart repeatedly, I had never given up on him. I had to practically pin her down from going over and clawing out his eyes in the middle of the lunchroom. Janet hugged me and apologized, saying he was dead wrong about me. She quickly left the table, continuing her campaign to killing Jack’s reputation.
The rest of the day, I obsessed over those words. I went from blaming him to even blaming myself for being so imperfect. Being comfortable with my body was no longer an option. I knew that it was only a matter of time before the whole school saw me as “beer belly girl.” After that I spent a good year and half trying my best to lose weight. Jack’s words echoing in my head with every sit-up I attempted. During class, I would wrap a sweater around my stomach hoping that it would make it seem smaller. I was still invisible, but no longer content with what I saw in the mirror.
Those words festered into my mind and I still haven’t been able to completely wipe them out. They sometimes return to taunt me whenever I eat something unhealthy or if my jeans have become a bit too tight. Even after so much time, the whole situation changed how I looked at my body. It confirmed the bad things I thought about myself, because I knew I wasn’t the only one who noticed them. I think back and see this moment as the day that created my low-self esteem and it is hard to get rid of. I spent half my life striving to be perfect, only to realize that I have wasted a lot of time caring about what others thought.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that I finally gave up on Jack. I thought I loved him, but he continually crushed my heart. Now as a grown woman, I look back and have learned a valuable lesson. I shouldn’t let anyone make me feel like I am not good enough. I shouldn’t waste my time on a “dream guy” who doesn’t think of me as his “dream girl”. A guy who doesn’t even care about the consequences of his actions. Who doesn’t care about hurting the only girl who thought he was perfect.
*Names have been changed because the real names don’t matter.