As a woman of mixed heritage, my skinny, size-zero body made me feel unattractive.
Growing up, I was extremely thin. It's not that I was starving myself; in fact I loved to eat. But no matter how much food I consumed, I never was able to budge from a size zero.
For much of my adolescence, my peers ridiculed me because of my size. As a teen, when everyone my age was starting to fill out and develop curves, I remained considerably thin. It took a toll on my confidence.
The issue of my weight reached a boiling point one summer day when I decided to wear shorts, which I'd never dared before; I was too self-conscious. Two men yelled at me from across the street, "Take those shorts off; you’re too skinny for that!" I was humiliated. Sure, I tried to laugh it off, but nothing was remotely funny about how I had been made to feel. After that day, I made it a point to never don a pair of shorts or a short skirt again.
Being "too thin" may sound like a problem most women would give anything to have, but my reality was different. As a woman of mixed heritage, my culture places a greater emphasis on being curvy. I've never held myself to the mainstream standard of beauty: being skinny. But I am. Back then, even more so — and it was a liability.
I didn't even realize the irony of my problem until a few years later, when I started working in a predominantly caucasian office. I was no longer a size zero, but I still wanted to gain more weight. Most of the women I worked with were obsessed with exercising and dieting. It was strange to me; all of these women were struggling for a body like mine, but when I looked at them, I secretly wished I were their size.
Bear in mind, these women were no bigger than a size nine at best. I saw them as shapely and attractive; not too thick and not too small. We'd talk about weight, and I'd be astonished at our starkly different perceptions about what an "acceptable" dress size is. It was amazing how different our body goals were — and what we put ourselves through to achieve them.