1996 (5th Grade): Her name was Danielle and she called me "Hippo". Not affectionately either. The peer pressure in elementary school was oppressive, even for a child. Classmates were french kissing (I didn't know what that meant), Tom was calling me a "bitch" (my mom told me what that meant), I faux-voted for Bill Clinton because everyone else was (I felt SO guilty) and I wore orange socks which were apparently unforgivable even at age 10. The last thing I needed was someone to point out the fact that I wasn't slender.
1999 (8th Grade): I went to Sears in the mall to pick out a new dressy shirt (such a treat) and Mom let me do the shopping alone. I remember the shirt I chose so vividly: light lime green with elastic lined sleeves. After wearing it for a month, my Mom pulled me aside and said that I should get rid of it because it was "unflattering" on my arms. She started to cry and assured me that someday I would find a man that would love me for me, and not for the way I looked. I loved that shirt until then.
2011 (Working in the Bakery): It was a weekday morning and my chauvinistic boss was blaring his usual shock jock radio show for a few hours. The radio jockey made a smarmy comment about how he hurt his back while having sex with a "fat chick" and I felt shame completely submerge me. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't look up. I felt so not okay. I let rude and crude men make me feel not okay.
2012 (Today): I stood up extra straight for the picture so my chin wouldn't double, thought twice about it and decided "fuck it". Body acceptance starts with me, and only me. Then it grows into a circle of friends and people that accept and love who I am. Then it expands into surrounding myself with media and role models that embrace and celebrate diversity and challenge the unrealistic norm. Then, and only then, can it sprout into a lifestyle that outwardly advocates for EVERYONES right to feel not just okay, but exquisite.
Take THAT Karl Lagerfeld.