I gained a lot of weight during the 3 month holiday before I started high school. While my old classmates had shed their baby fat, I had gotten bigger. I never noticed until an uncle remarked that I was bigger. He laughed, pinched my cheeks, then called me ‘fatso.' That made me feel small, as ironic as that may sound. I began to dread his visits to our house, because he always made it a point to call me fatso. I mean, every time I answered the intercom he would begin by saying, “Hello fatso.” You can imagine what such statements did to a teenager's esteem. It didn't make it any better that my mother would sometimes call me fat when she was angry. Fat stopped being an adjective, it became my identity. I reached college with the conviction that I was still single because I was too big for any guy to want to date me. To my surprise, I found myself the recipient of the attention of a couple of guys at school. I convinced myself that they were only showing interest in me because they wanted to get to my hot friend. There was no way any guy would want to get with a fat girl. I met Todd through my roommate Clara and we hit it off instantly. Our friendship was budding and everything was going on well until the day he told me he told me I was beautiful. I looked him straight in the eye and bluntly told him I was fat. He tried to reassure me that size didn't change the fact that I was beautiful, but I of course didn't believe him and told him to leave my room. He tried to see me several times after that day, but I was cold to him. I told him I didn't need people who lied to me and would prefer to not be friends with him. He eventually stopped coming at all. One day, I was with Clara when we started talking about some beautiful dresses a friend had posted on my status. Out of nowhere, I burst into tears. When asked why I was crying I told her it was because I was too big to fit in any of the dresses. She tried to tell me otherwise, but I did not listen. I don't know why it happened on that day, but all my past hurts and jabs at my size came to my mind. I broke down and cried all the tears I had never shed. I was hurting, and had been hurting for a very long time. As I was sobbing, Clara came and sat before me. She took my hand and told me words I was never to forget. “Your perception of yourself is the only one that matters. Your uncle may have called you names, but it has always been up to you to take it to heart or not. People will always talk, that's why they have mouths. The more you bring yourself down, the more others will do the same. I can't keep telling you that you are fine the way you are, and neither will the guys around you. The sooner you accept yourself, the sooner happiness will find you.” She left me with those words. Her words struck a nerve. She had called me out on my insecurities, but she had spoken the truth. All of a sudden I felt angry at myself. All these years I had lived my life holding on to hurt, succeeding only in hurting myself more. I was responsible for a heinous crime. I was guilty of body shaming, the victim being me. It hit me then that the reason I never dated in my younger years was because I was at a girl's school, with strict parents. I had nowhere to meet guys! Yes I sometimes had difficulties finding jeans that fit, but size 14 jeans fit just fine. It was like my eyes were opened that day. I didn't have super confidence all of a sudden; it took some weeks, but eventually I became confident in my own skin. I changed my mentality and started seeing myself for who I was, not who people thought I was. I went to Todd, and we had a long talk. He forgave me for my outburst, and we started working on our friendship. When my uncle visited, I told him body shaming was disgusting and not fitting a man of his calibre. He was shocked to say the least. He stopped calling me fatso that day. There is so much I am grateful in my life, my friend Clara being top of the list. She opened my eyes to what was always there. She made me realise I needed to accept myself as I was. As for me not having a boyfriend, I realised I had to love myself before anyone else could love me. I knew then when the time was right, I would connect with someone on that level and it would just make sense for us to be together. I finally found myself, and the happiness that only comes from being comfortable with oneself.