As a curvy girl, I grew up thinking I could never be in a relationship because of my body. I always hoped I would eventually find love, but at the same time, I realized it was unlikely that a guy would ever be interested in me because I was not skinny.
This notion was reinforced throughout my teen years, starting during my freshman year with a sleepover at my best friend’s house.
After a few hours of typical sleepover activities such as snacking, manicures and makeovers, we timidly approached the topic of boys. We giggled as we talked about the boys we liked and what interested us about them. We all agreed that it was cute when a boy made us laugh. As I snacked on a cookie, I daydreamed about Hector, the cute boy in my health class.
I wanted to ask him out, so I asked my friends what guys found attractive in women, hoping that maybe their advice would give me confidence. I smiled thinking of my friendship with Hector and said, “I think boys like girls for their personalities.”
Suddenly, one of my friend’s voices lowered as she said, “I know what guys don’t like.”
I leaned in and listened intently as she continued: “My mom told me that men don’t like fat women.”
The girl sitting next to me jumped up off the floor.
“That’s true! If you’re fat, you won’t find love,” she responded. “Men will just laugh at your body.”
My own best friend joined in, agreeing, “Why would someone choose a fat girl if they could have a skinny one instead?”
My cheeks burned, and I dropped my head to hide my face. Their comments were directed at me, and despite the embarrassment, I agreed with them.
I looked down at my tummy rolls and my big thighs, and then I glanced around the circle, comparing my body to those of my relatively thin friends. I knew they were right — with thighs this big, I had no hope of finding true love. I decided to leave the sleepover early to avoid further embarrassment. I felt hopelessly alone and uncomfortable in my skin.
The next week, I avoided the group of girls from the sleepover, sitting with Hector at lunch instead. I explained to him how it hurt to think that men only consider body shape when picking a partner.
He laughed timidly, responding, “Love can forever surprise you.”
In the moment, his words confused me, but I still felt disappointed that my curves were the eminent wall that prevented me from receiving the love I wanted so badly.
The next day at school, I was greeted at the front gate by Hector. As we walked to class, he asked me if I was planning on going to the school dance. To tell the truth, I had dreamed of going to the dance with him but thought he wouldn’t want to go with me because of my curves. Without making eye contact with him, I nervously responded that I didn’t enjoy dances.
Sitting in class later that day, I imagined the school dance. I pictured myself in a beautiful pink dress, dancing to my favorite music with my best friends. Maybe Hector would even want to go with me. I couldn’t let my body shape limit me from going and making memories.
My courage to ask Hector quickly vanished when I overheard a friend saying he was going to ask a “cute girl” from one of his classes.
The next Monday when I got to school, my stomach dropped as I saw that Hector was not waiting for me at the front gate like he did every day.
While I sat in my class, the words “men only laugh at curvy girls” replayed in my head. I imagined Hector was laughing at my body with his friends all this time. I tried to hold back my tears, thinking he only walked me to my class out of pity.
Suddenly, there was an interruption on the intercom as the principal informed us of a special announcement. The announcement began, “As many of you know, the school dance is near, and I want to ask a very special girl with beautiful curves to be my girlfriend and to go to the dance with me. Shirley, would you like to be my partner in crime for this dance?”
I immediately knew it was Hector! I was shocked to hear him say my name. My eyes widened, and I pressed my lips together to hold in my excitement. I began to blush. Hector saw my curves as beautiful!
When he came into the classroom, everyone began clapping and cheering. He held red roses in his hand with a note that said, “I told you, love can surprise you!”
Although love can seem impossible for a curvy girl like me, I was surprised by someone who liked me for me. My curvy body is free to experience everything wonderful that love brings, and curves like mine deserve to be loved. On March 22, Hector and I will be celebrating our ninth year together, proving that love and curves go very well together.
Shirley Ojeda writes the Thursday column on body positivity. Contact her at [email protected].