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I have always been the chubby child. For some reason odds where not in my favor when it comes to skinny genes. This made growing up very difficult. I remember being laughed at because I was almost twice the size of my peers. I remember when someone told me I looked like I was 20 years old, when I was only twelve years old. I never understood why people made a fuss about my weight, especially since I didn’t really eat more than others. However I soon realized that life was not fun for those who weren’t skinny.

My struggle with my weight has made my battle with depression that much harder. When I look in the mirror, I see an ugly girl. A girl that is afraid, lost and unsure of herself. I say a girl because part of me is still trapped in that time, a little five year old looking for validation from those around her. As a child my weight was always the point of discussion, especially since my sister was much skinner than me. Remarks such as “Your sister is skinner and prettier than you” and “You need to go on a diet and look like your sister” became an everyday reality. I was constantly told I was not beautiful, not good enough because I weighted 70kg by the time I was in grade 8.

I remember a time when I almost overdosed on diet pills, desperate to shed the weight. How I hid the pain and discomfort from my family by saying it was food poisoning. In my mind it was all worth it. Maybe if I lost the weight I would be happier. The pain would go away and the darkness would fade. Yes, I linked happiness to being skinny. Partially because of what I saw on TV, but mainly because my family instilled in me the idea that I was lesser of a person because of my weight.

As I grew older, I became more obsessed with my weight. I went from a chubby girl, to one whose weight would fluctuate regularly. I would eat, and then I would starve myself because eating made me feel like a greedy pig. As I went to varsity in South Africa, I had enough time to eat myself to a healthy weight before going back home. I became an expert at hiding my weight issues.

It was only when I decided to see a psychologist did I realize that my obsession with my weight, amongst other things, made me depressed. It didn’t take long for my psychologist to pick up my troublesome relationship with food, pointing out how I’m prone to some form of eating disorder. So on top of regular exercise, my mom now had to monitor my eating patterns. Making sure I actually ate and ate enough to sustain me. My psychologist had every right to be worried. I had moved from 78kg to 65kg in less than three months. And I refused to eat many things put in front of me.

So as I sit and reflect on the week that was, I am proud of myself, but slightly worried. Proud because I now am at a healthy weight, and no longer have to pad my clothing to hide the weight loss. Worried because I can see old habits coming back. Habits of eating very little and exercising a little too much. Looking in the mirror with disgust instead of admiration.

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Ros Limbo
mulemwa.limbo@gmail.com