Dear Nikki,Self-Conscious Girl
I’ve tried EVERYTHING to lose weight, but I just can’t. My sisters can eat 50 hamburgers and still be skinny. I think the reason why I’m not making friends at my new school is because I’m big and awkward. I just want to give up. Every time I go to the doctor, it’s the same thing. Take off your shoes and step on the scale, my goodness cut back on the snacks. It doesn’t help that every time I get sad or nervous, food is there. It’s like seeing a hungry lion eat an elephant! Please help.
Hey Self-Conscious Girl!
I’m so sorry you’re feeling self-conscious! I’ve been there! Maybe not with weight (though sometimes I feel waaaay too skinny) but with crazy hair days or obsessing over my eyes being too close together…or too far apart…or bad skin…or WHATEVER. My point is, I’ve been there. And it’s a crummy feeling.
Feeling crummy about your weight can feel extra awful, because weight is not the kind of thing that comes and goes easily, like a bad hair day or an acne breakout. And if your sisters are skinny, you always have that reminder of how different you are. That stinks. (I know, that’s not super helpful. Except sometimes it helps just to know someone else recognizes how hard a situation is.)
I can’t tell you how to lose weight. That’s sort of a doctor’s job—though it doesn’t sound like your doctor is being super helpful if they’re just telling you to cut back on the snacks. ON THE OTHER HAND, that kind of tells me your weight problem probably isn’t as big as you think it is. If your doctor really wanted you to lose a bunch of weight, he or she would give you a whole diet and exercise plan. So, if the doctor’s just saying “cut back on the snacks,” it might be helpful to remember that you’re probably not anywhere near as overweight as you think you are.
But even if you ARE quite overweight, that doesn’t mean you have to feel self-conscious all the time. It’s your body. It’s not the same as your sisters’. But it serves you well—you can walk, run, dance, and get from one place to another. Maybe you can play a sport, ride a bike, or swim if you want to get a bit more exercise. Maybe you do need to lose weight, or maybe you need to accept that there are all kinds of different body types, and TV and magazines teach us that skinny is the “right” way to be, but really it’s just one way to be.
What you said about food being there when you’re sad or nervous made me think about something I’ve heard my mom talk about—she calls it emotional eating. I looked it up and the definition is “using food as a way to deal with feelings instead of satisfying hunger. If that sounds familiar, there’s some good information about it here: http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/emotional-eating.html.
Now, about this idea that you’re not making friends because you’re “big and awkward”…I understand why you’d feel that way. But here’s the thing: the sort of people who might not like you for those reasons are the sort of people you wouldn’t want as friends anyway. Think about it: who judges others based on their looks? Do you want to be friends with those people?
It’s hard fitting in at a new school. It’s hard making friends anywhere. There are lots of posts here in the Ask Nikki column on those topics, and you can search for them by searching for all the posts tagged Friends. But my hope is that as you build your confidence in yourself as you are, you’ll find dorktastic people and they will love you too!!
So, maybe the bigger question is not how you can lose weight, but how you can love yourself more the way you are!
What do you guys think? How do you learn to love the not-so-perfect parts of yourself?