Call it what you like. Before entering the world of companionship, all of the above meant fat, and I was it.
Everyone in my family has struggled with weight - my mom and dad, uncle and aunt. Ever since I can remember I've been chubby. As an only child I was doted on and whatever I wanted was available. Five pieces of toast for breakfast? Check. Two chocolate bars from the convenience store? Check. In my early youth this was marvelous. Only in middle school did I start to realize I was different than some of my friends: I was heavy.
In the days of entering puberty, noticing boys and getting used to my legs hurting from growing, I felt ashamed of my body. I felt like I'd somehow skipped the "just right" body stage and swung towards excess before I even realized it. On came the diets, the "quick tricks" to lose weight. Eat 100 calories every 2 hours to lower daily intake and not be so hungry. They worked in the narrowest sense of the word. I'd lose weight, only to slowly gain it back. Graduating high school, I hadn't dated, kissed, or even held hands with a boy. As any irrational teenager is prone to think, I thought I'd be romantically alone for life.
Next came college. I excelled academically and loved the intellectual challenge I'd missed in high school. My bad food habits followed me like a shadow and I developed an eating disorder. Off came the weight, and for the first time in my life (remember, I skipped the "normal weight" part of childhood) I was thin. Not average, not normal; I was thin. To me, thinness meant acceptance, love, and appreciation. On the outside I was a bombshell with a pretty face and banging body. As eating disorders go, I quickly lost control and became sick mentally and physically. A sexy girl with admirers for days, I was too afraid to leave my dorm room for fear of people seeing me and calling me the dreaded 3-letter word: fat.
Eating disorder treatment is a slow and arduous process, but for me it worked. Treatment saved my life, though it came with weight gain. It baffles me that with all of the resources available for eating disorders, there is shockingly limited information about how to deal with weight gain after living on nothing for years. I didn't just recover to a normal weight; I gained. Now in my mid twenties, here I was in middle school again, on the other side of "just right".
Becoming a companion had changed my life in numerous ways. I am financially independent, make my own schedule, am my own boss. It's also taught me very important lessons about my body. According to my teenager mind, I could never be a companion because I'd constantly be broke (no one wants a fat girl). Nothing, and I mean nothing, could be further from the truth. You know the old trope where you have to hear a compliment 10 times to finally get it? I've been told I'm beautiful more times than I can count. My confidence in my body, sexuality and personhood is at an all time high. Seeing my beloved colleagues with similar body types thriving and succeeding in this business reinforces my confidence and gives me hope.
Does it hurt when I'm reviewed and I'm called some flowery variation on fat? Yeah, but I am. I am and I'm beautiful. Fatness and beauty can (shocker!) coexist.
My story of accepting my body through outside validation is far from a perfect one. Ideally I'd just have some come-to-jesus moment and love myself no matter what anyone thinks. But I'm human, and not perfect. I can't fit that ideal anymore than I can maintain the ideal body weight.
I value transparency and honesty in my life, and writing this post this chilly morning is my effort to help others know me, the real me. My real name may not be Abbi but I can promise you, after reading this, you are beginning to know who "Abbi" really is.
Thanks for reading :)