[This is part of my Strong&KIND series, a reflection on and celebration of the path I took to become a Certified Personal Trainer. Don’t forget to enter my Strong&KIND protein bar giveaway, open until 11:59pm EST on Friday, November 7th 2014.]
The details of the conversation and where it was borne from fade into the confused background of another life, but my position in time and space, sitting in the passenger seat of my roommate’s car as we veered into the exit lane of the highway home from classes — of that much, I’m sure. I had said something, or she had said something, or we had both, together, organically come to contemplate our bodies. There was an honest confession from her that she did not envy my body, my slender frame, my collar bones and hip bones and size 0 jeans. She did not want to be skinny, small, insubstantial. There was no malice from her but there was, to some degree, surprise from me. I had spent the better part of my post-pubescence wanting, preferring, feeling comfortable in, my thin skin, and never really considering that others might not feel the same. My roommate, on the other hand, wanted to be strong. It was a concept that I, at 22 years old, couldn’t quite comprehend.
Looking back on it all, I can see how the more I grew up, the smaller I wanted to be, as though I was subconsciously searching for Alice’s magic cookie that would shrink me down until, I suppose, I would just disappear altogether. My voice was a soft whisper. I blushed when I spoke in class. I self-deprecatingly referred to myself as indecisive, so unsure of my own existence that I couldn’t even announce my preference for a restaurant, a movie, a music station. It doesn’t matter, I’d say; you choose. I physically tried to compress and contort my posture to bring my entire body closer to the ground beneath my feet. I wanted to be tiny. I wanted to fit into the nooks and crannies of the world and be cute. That’s what people liked, wasn’t it? It’s what I liked. And though I never deprived myself of a meal or food group, or punished myself with exercise to force my body into the pint-sized box I kept myself folded into, I can admit to you and myself now that I was, all the while, relieved that my “skinny genes” meant that I didn’t have to do those things to stay so small.
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