‘Little Fat Girl’

Self Love As An Act of Survival

Reader Submission by Mase Santos, 

The first image of beauty I aspired to was, quite literally, virtual.

My dad has always been a fan of most things fantasy-related, and being a young girl I would watch him play online video games like Lord of the Rings as a pastime. I suppose it was a precursor to youtube gaming videos.

I loved looking through the femme characters you could play, but was consistently disappointed with the skinny options that were clearly made for sexual relief. In my eight year old mind it was inconceivable that these characters could take down a troll five times their size, and as a little girl I was all about reason.

But there was always a silver lining to be found in the brawnier girls, the girls with biceps to match their breasts. These girls looked scrappy, toughened by time and ready for the next battle they’d inevitably win. I wanted to be like them, an independent woman who could hold down her personal life while also, well, slaying dragons.

I made the decision in full awareness to direct a large portion of that love back onto myself

As I got older I was bombarded with images of women taller than me, fairer than me and significantly smaller than me. The summer before fourth grade I read Queen Bee by Chynna Clugston and became obsessed with being stylish, popular, thin and unknowingly, whiter. These images of beauty continued bleeding into my life, consuming whole what my eight-year-old self had known to be true.

It didn’t help that as I grew older these images of beauty were regurgitated throughout the different social landscapes I was a part of. Recognizing a preference for thin white girls in high school and having friends directly tell me I should lose weight in college damaged my own self image. It became second-nature knowledge that love for my body did not exist.

Then my depression hit an all time low. Panic attacks were a daily occurrence, my stress was at the highest it’s ever been, and I found myself breaking down in public spaces [an amplifier for stress]. But there is something to be said about the freedom of hitting rock bottom. Something, after everything I had experienced during the duration of the year, switched.

Maybe it was my best friend’s supportive pessimism that got to me, or the acknowledgement of my own mortality, but something shifted. And with this change in mentality came the realization that I needed to take better care of myself.

Including letting things go.

I started thinking about my own fears and examining how they held me back from living my fullest life, and found that allowing them to reside in me resulted in both regret and stress.

This year I’ve reached my peak weight, becoming plus-sized in bottoms and teetering between medium and extra large for tops. This year I also became fearless about the limits of my body, expanding beyond “complementary” black-and-white outfits for more colorful choices that express who I actually am.

This year I started loving my body for what it is: a vehicle of action.

I got my first large tattoos in my elbow ditches and dyed my hair pink. I enrolled in pole dancing classes, something I would have never imagined doing as my skinnier self. I learned the value of seizing the moment and the necessity of creating love for yourself when it seems like it’s all been taken.

This year I learned how to let my body breathe.

I gave myself space when I couldn’t find any left for myself, and discovered the endless pool of love I had inside of me. I made the decision in full awareness to direct a large portion of that love back onto myself, something that should have happened a long time ago.

This body is the only thing I came into this world with, and this body will be the last thing I take when I leave. Admittedly there are moments when I feel defeated, reeling back into myself in disgust. Shopping for cute lingerie proves to be a certain hell, and one can only handle being consistently disappointed in the changing room for so long. Hearing comments from friends calling themselves “fat” while being significantly smaller than me always stings, but I’ve come to realize these things are just temporary. And too, my body is temporary, but so much more valuable.

I’ve gained weight, but I’ve also gained perspective.

Mase Santos is a Queer Xicana ? working in the intersection of art, design, education, & organization. Currently attending the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, she is working towards a Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurial Studies with a Minor in Creative Writing. Her passions include the exploration of Brown/Latinx culture, community development, contemporary art and reimagining academia.?

When not working on  she can be found crying over Jane the Virgin or obsessing over Latinx podcasts.

Visit me on Twitter  ✨ Emotional weenie diving into a journey of self-care and sass ✨ all tweets are mine.

IG: @xingonallorona