Last summer I started writing about my childhood and the experiences that led me to believe I was fat long before I was ever overweight. For years I wasn’t fat at all. My weight stayed pretty steady around 132 pounds. I wore a size 12 and had a 32 inch waist. I remember this easily because I was obsessed with my size. I hated the fact that I always hovered near the plus sizes. It also seemed that every other girl I knew wore a dress size that was a single digit and usually it was a really small number like 2 or 4. I also inexplicably compared myself to my mom, maybe hoping that I would follow in her footsteps and only weigh 118 pounds. I was so desperate to be under 130 pounds. For me, anything over 130 was unacceptable. Luckily I never followed any kind of crash diets but more interestingly I never even tried to curb my habits of eating cookies everyday. The closest I got to losing weight was the summer I went vegetarian. That summer I saw my weight drop down to 129 pounds and I was able to squeeze into 30 inch jeans and even a size 10 skirt. But that is probably the smallest that my adult body would ever be.

What bothers me to this day is that for all those years I thought I was fat. When I now look back at pictures of myself I can’t believe how delusional I was. Okay, so I didn’t have a perfectly flat stomach. I will probably never have a perfectly flat stomach unless I spend six hours a day at the gym like Madonna and go on some crazy macrobiotic diet and those are two things I’m not willing to do. The point of all this is that if I could go back in time, I would confront my 14-year-old self, give her a hard slap in the face and scream, “YOU’RE NOT FAT!!” I’m still not sure if that would even work. All of my mom’s efforts to get me to see how beautiful I was never worked and believe me, she tried so hard to raise my self-esteem that she deserves a medal. To prove how messed up my self-perception was, I’ve included a picture of myself with two friends. I’ve cut out our heads for privacy but also because I’d like people (even the ones I know in real life) to guess which one is me. I still can’t believe that I thought I was a beached whale compared to my friends, when clearly, I was not.

Answer: I’m the person in the middle. Most of you were right with your guesses! As for my choice of skirt, well, it was 1998, the time of Sarah McLachlan and Lilith Fair and long hippie-ish skirts. I really loved that skirt. But that’s not what’s important. What I really wanted to point out is one of the comments that said they thought the person on the left was every so slightly larger than the other two in the photo. Here’s the real deal: as I said before, at that time I was a size 12. But the person on the left was about a size 4! I know this because we used to go shopping all the time together. It just goes to show that dress size isn’t necessarily an indication of how fat someone is or isn’t. At that time I paid more attention to the fact that 12 was bigger than most of my friends’ sizes, not realizing that it was simply the right size for my frame. And now, here I am 13 years later hoping to get back to a size 12 because I know that’s the right size for me.