fat shaming
photo: Revelist/JessicaTorres

I have been fat for as long as I can remember. I was always the fat sister, "la gordita." My weight defined me as a person.

You see, I was taught to hate my body; I was taught to dream of days when I would be thinner. The first person to remind me that my body needed to change? My mother. 

Little did I know, she was telling herself the same thing. 

The pounds came on as I entered elementary school. That's when the comments on my body began.

My mother tried everything she knew to help me lose weight.

fat shaming
photo: Revelist/JessicaTorres

She would spend hours working out; I was told to join. 

Every time she weighed herself and came just shy of her goal, I saw the frustration in her face. She hated her body, and that hate was palpable. 

Somewhere in all this, at a very young age, I was given a girdle. It was the first of many. 

I vividly remember being 8 years old and finding a few stretch marks on my skin before a family beach trip. "She will never be able to wear a swimsuit," my mom said to my older sister.

I cried that night. A lot. 

I was barely old enough to understand clothing sizes and already I felt like my body had turned against me. I was truly worried that I'd never be able to wear a swimsuit. My body felt less valuable than it had been just seconds before she said those words. 

 

It was the way she said it — as if it were a fact. And when I hit the ripe age of 10, the prophecy came true and I actually swore off swimsuits.

fat shaming
photo: Revelist/JessicaTorres

I was ashamed...

fat shaming
photo: Revelist/JessicaTorres

During family reunions, I made sure to use pillows to cover up my stomach when I sat down.

...and I was full of resentment.

fat shaming
photo: Revelist/JessicaTorres

That comment lingered in the back of my head for years. I almost hated my mom for saying that about me.

I didn't realize that she was going through the same body issues as I was. She grew up believing that thinness equated to beauty. My mother had been told that same thing on many occasions.  

It wasn't until college that I started to appreciate my body. I realized that my value wasn't based on my weight.

I started experimenting with fashion and I wore a crop top for the first time.

I also realized that I had to have enough confidence for me and my mom. 

It was then that things started to change. "I love how much you love yourself," she'd tell me as she complimented my outfits and style. 

At 22, I decided it was time to put on a swimsuit again. Still I wondered: What would mom say?

She didn't say much. She just looked at me and smiled. That's when I knew I was making a difference — not just for myself, but for her, too. 

She went from wanting to hide my body and hers, to being my number one supporter. Her obsession with being thinner has diminished. Now she's all about health and happiness.

She understands that my body may never be as small as she wanted it to be, and I've realized that her comments and concerns were about her own fear and shame.

She is kinder to herself now. She lives her life to the fullest and wears clothes for style, not camouflage. 

My mother is a great example of how people can change. Her perception of beauty has totally evolved.

 

Today, my mom is my motivation. Whenever I feel insecure about something, she makes sure to snap me out of it.

To anyone out there — at any age — who's being criticized for your appearance: Give self-love a try and you'll see how others will learn to accept you.