But then, as all little girls should, she began to grow. Somewhere between little and big, she became . . . less skinny. Chubby. Fluffy. Whatever you want to call it.
At first, she handled change with quiet alarm: surely a body was not meant to have such ridiculous curves and such foolishly soft angles. Surely all would end well and she would go back to her skinny little self.
Then came the point of realization that there was no going back.
As a teenager, she was miserable. She tried to diet to lose weight--to no avail, especially since she enjoyed food too much to have an eating disorder. She exercised regularly--without success, even though she walked and lifted weights. The bitter tastes of embarrassment and dissatisfaction blended into a poisonous cocktail that she nursed for years.
However, rather than adjusting and becoming dependent on the poison, she came to hate it. Somewhere in the middle of feeling like a fat teenage reject, she turned her misery to stubborn pride.
"I love my body. Do you see these hips, this butt? I am a baroque painting. Our ancestors would have worshipped me, for I am The Birth of Venus."
Now, in case you were wondering, the truth is I am this girl. This girl is me. For the last five years, I have taken a ferocious pride in an unfashionably round body, and murdered feelings of inadequacy with the belief that I am perfect. But now, my pride and staunch belief in well-padded perfection is being unraveled.
I recently became a size eight.
It doesn't sound like much. It is still a larger number than some would be proud of. But coming from someone who has been at least a size twelve since the age of twelve, it means much.
It scares me.
I had chosen to be happy, forced the decision for hours and days and weeks and years until my body was good enough to me. I had finally learned to love the imperfect.
And now it is leaving me.
Who is this body? Look at her lean face, count her ribs, marvel at the stiff hollow of her sternum. Watch as she bruises her slimmed thighs on wheelbarrows. Laugh when she scrapes her bony hips trying to carry things on them.
I count my ribs. The bony protrusions of my hips, knees, elbows, and wrists jab their way to the forefront of my mind. Despite my total hatred of the idea, I have begun to develop a thigh gap. I put on a bikini, and it really didn't look that bad.
I miss being fat.