When the “love of your life” is just the worst…

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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.

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*Names have been changed because the real names don’t matter.

Bathing Suits and Lady Parts…

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I practically invented the “crotch shot” when I was twelve.

It was summer, the same summer that Anna* and I spent chasing Luke*. That day we were going to the river because Anna had called and said she wanted to go swimming and watch the older kids jump off the bridge. It wasn’t the highest jump and if planned right the middle of the river could be pretty deep. I always went along with Anna’s ideas because they were always better than mine. While Anna rode her bike to my house, I changed into my two-piece bathing suit.

My parents would not let me have a bikini. Frankly I didn’t want one. I had a hard time adjusting to my “womanly” changes. That past year I went from a training bra to a B cup. I also still had some baby chub around my stomach that made me feel fat. I didn’t want a one piece because I wasn’t a little kid anymore. At the time only old woman and little kids had one pieces.   So instead I got a tankini with matching “boy short” style bottoms. The top part fit me ok. The bottoms however were strangely cut. They fit snug on my waist when they were dry, but the minute I got them wet they sagged similar to a wet diaper. The worst part was that they didn’t fit in the lady parts. The shorts were extremely loose in that area. Which made me question if there was something wrong with my body. Yes, I questioned if my vagina was supposed to be bigger. Just another thing wrong with me, I thought. At the time I didn’t comprehend that the design of the clothing could be flawed. I also figured it would better to be loose than too tight. I didn’t quite know the term camel toe, but I knew it was something to be avoided.

I was all dressed with nowhere to go because Anna changed her mind. She decided that going to the river sounded lame. (Later I concluded that her parents probably told her that she couldn’t go to the river without an adult). Instead we watched some TV trying to think of something better to do. Riding our bikes past Luke’s was out of the question because he wasn’t home that day. Since we already had our bathing suits on we decided to go play in the sprinklers in my front yard. We played for a while, stopping every time a car would pass, just in case it was the older boys from up the street. We didn’t want them to see us playing in sprinklers like little kids, of course. Eventually we just sat around on some towels talking about boys and stuff that we could do tomorrow. I had forgotten about my ill fitting bathing suit as I sat cross-legged in the grass listening to Anna’s idea about riding our bikes to the store to get popsicles. I noticed Anna kept looking down when finally she said why.

“Oh my god, I can see your VAGINA!” Anna said busting into her booming laugh.

I couldn’t say anything. It actually took me a couple of moments to process what she had said. When I realized my best friend had just seen my lady parts, I wanted to die. My face rapidly grew warmer as I wrapped one of the towels around my waist. Even though it was put away, Anna couldn’t stop chuckling at me. I covered my eyes with my hands and felt like disappearing to any place other than my front yard. After moments of awkwardly listening to Anna straining to regain some composure, I joined in. It was the only thing I could do. I really wanted to run into my house and cry, but I was still kind of frozen from the mortification.

“THAT WAS THE BEST MOMENT…EVER!” Anna screamed. I honestly had a hard time trying to figure out why it was the best. In my head I was screaming, “THIS IS THE MOST EMBARRASSING THING EVER.” I wanted Anna to think I was cooler than I actually was, so I went along with it.

Lucky for me, Anna never told anyone about seeing my lady parts. That is a great part of having a best friend. They will laugh at you at your most embarrassing moments because they expect you to do the same. They will keep your embarrassing stories to themselves, unless those stories will benefit them while playing a drunken game of I never.

*Names have been changed because I wrote so.