Like most women, I’ve always struggled with my weight. When I was younger I was always the bigger kid. By the time I hit my teens, I was a size 16 and insecure. I always wore black and loose fitting clothing to hide my body. I felt ashamed and completely disgusted with myself. I had zero confidence. I convinced myself, through the words of others, that no one would ever love me the way I was. I missed out on life experiences because I was so convinced that any guy who paid me any attention was just doing it to humiliate me. I took diet pills and drank diet shakes to help me lose weight but in the end it never worked. I looked at my curves as a curse and my breasts as an enemy. I hated my chest, I always tried to hide it. I didn’t just wake up one day and think, “I hate the way I look.” It was burned into my head from the time I was a child. Having family members that always make you feel like you’re not good enough because you look a certain way is a horrible feeling to carry through life. Even now, I still can’t have a fulfilled relationship with the person who influenced me to hate myself so much. However, I was lucky compared to so many young people who get relentlessly tortured every day about their sexual orientation, self expression, or physical make up. I became my own bully and worst enemy. My most deep-seated self-hate turned into self-harm. Any time I would feel ashamed or emotional, I would cut myself. It became an addiction for me. Eventually my mother found out and sent me to a therapist. Therapy didn’t work for me – I had convinced myself too much that I knew how to take care of my emotions through physical pain. I continued to self-harm all the way up until my second year of college. That was when things began to change for me. There was this guy in my college classes who would always compliment me and be attentive. He eventually confessed his feelings for me and I told him I felt the same way he did. I was completely filled with joy when we became a couple. Unfortunately at the same time I was filled with fear that this good-looking, fit guy was just doing this to humiliate me in front of the class. I reluctantly went to school the following day and nothing happened. This guy openly displayed his affection and made his feelings know to everyone. I was finally allowing myself to have all the life experiences I had missed out on. He accepted me for the way I was and showered me with compliments about the way I looked. I had never been told so many amazing things. He made me feel as if I was the only woman in the world. I just couldn’t believe that he wanted to be with me. The early years of our relationship were wonderful and at times strained. I always kept in the back of my head that he would leave me because of the way I looked. I was convinced he wanted to be with a “smaller” woman. But he stood by me and kept telling me how much he adored me the way I was. I started to believe all the things he told me. I WAS perfect. I DID look great in clothes because of my curves and my breasts weren’t something to be ashamed of. Confidence started to build within me and the feeling of not being good enough subsided. I started to discover myself and find the person I had been trying to hide. Sharing my story isn’t about telling anyone that you need a man/woman to feel validated. I think for me it was that men in my life had put negativity into my head and by hearing that I was good enough from one made me think differently. Confidence isn’t something we are born with or get overnight; it’s something we all have to work at. It comes with age. The older you get the less you care about what people think about you. Anything and everything can influence you to feel empowered and beautiful. If one woman from every size walked around with confidence, they would influence a million others. Any time I see a beautiful curvy woman rock an outfit I would never think to wear, it encourages me to be just as fabulous as they are. Instead of bringing each other down, we should build each other up to be the amazing, strong, powerful women we are born to be. By the way, don’t forget to check out The Women’s Issue – a digital mag we created in celebration for Women’s History Month!