The other day at work as I waited for the elevator to go to lunch, I was approached by one of my co-workers. She came up to me and said “I don’t know if you want to hear this or not, but it looks like you’re gaining weight.” I was completely caught off guard. In that moment, I didn’t really know how to handle her comment. Me and her were cool, but not cool enough for her to share her thoughts about my weight. Despite having a few “treat yoself” dinner nights, I’ve been pretty consistent about working out regularly. We both stepped into the elevator for what was bound to be an awkward ride. “Well,” I said. “Whether I’m big or small I know I look good.” She then tried to backtrack and say the added weight looks good on me because I’m tall and I carry it well. At that point, I was over the conversation.

I was proud of myself for standing up and saying something back. If she had made the same statement a few years ago, I would’ve sunken into the corner of the elevator or I probably would’ve just gotten off and decided that I’d skip lunch to lose a few pounds. Weight and body image has always been a touchy subject for me. I went to school in a bougie upper west side neighborhood where being thin was idolized. However, I lived in Harlem and during the days before my body had fully developed I would get joked on for not having enough ass or being flat chested. There were times when I wanted to go on extreme diets and there were other times where I wanted to eat a pot of rice with a side of potatoes and go to the gym to do squats in efforts to get a video vixen booty.

I’ve gotten to know my body. I’m not one of those women who can eat anything they want and still slide into a size 2, and that’s okay. My weight goes up and down. One day I can look skinny and the next day I’ll be super plump. But who cares? As a 25-year-old woman, although sometimes I still have my insecurities, I’m getting more and more comfortable in my own skin every day.

One thing that I’ve learned over the years is that we all have different perceptions of what it means to be beautiful. There will always be someone who has something negative to say about the way you look, but there will be just as many people who think you’re absolutely amazing just the way you are (cue Bruno Mars.) One thing’s for sure is that we have to stop weight and body shaming; whether it’s from one person to another or it’s coming from yourself. The girl who you just called “fat” might be starving herself behind closed doors to get to her desired size. The thin girl who you said is “too skinny” might be bulimic. You never know what others are going through.

Show love to others. Encourage others. Embrace who you are. Love who you are. Confidence at any size is sexy.

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Written by Brandee

Brandee Sanders is a Harlem-bred writer and editor. Her work has been well received in the media. She's been featured on MSN.com, The Root, NewsOne and countless other outlets. Brandee is the founder of a Harlem-based blog called Meet Me Uptown. In 2014, she launched Brunch With Brandee a one-stop...
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