Girl Crush: How Valorie Clark Discovered the Miscorrelation Between Weight and Happiness

This week we posted a Medium with a round-up of some of our favorite Medium stories about body image. One story stood out to us because of how short yet effective the message was — we reached out to the author for more. The result was discovering an amazing writer and women, Valorie Clark, who was brave enough to share her story about struggling with a negative body image with us. You can read more of her stories, thoughts, and musings on her blog, The Valorie Clark.

The first time I ever hated my body I was ten years old. I remember that moment with the kind of vivid clarity that only shame can impart. In fifth grade the popular girl Annie* made some loud, snide remarks about how I didn’t wear a training bra, pointing out my flat chest to my entire fifth grade class as we lined up to go out to the playground. My face burned so red that hot water could have sizzled on it.

In the fifteen years since then I’ve tried extreme diets, not cared what I ate, stopped eating until I was dangerously skinny, and then let my weight balloon again. I think about her a lot. Both the scared little girl I was, trying to fit into public school after years in Montessori, and Annie, the popular girl who now I see was just as insecure as I was. She moved away after sixth grade and I haven’t seen her since. Would I be nice to her if I saw her today? I hope so, but whenever I stare at myself in the mirror and wish I was skinnier I have my doubts.

My heaviest was when I was 24 and living in Paris. The number on the scale doesn’t matter — weight sits differently on everyone. More important was that I felt awful. I thought I looked disgusting, and I thought everyone else found me disgusting too. I tried to hide the weight under clothes and refused to put on shorts. I accepted horrible treatment from boys in my life because I thought I wasn’t pretty enough to deserve better. Eventually I stopped flirting, dating, and having sex all together because I was convinced I was too fat to be truly desirable, and I hate rejection.

Around the same time I moved back to the States, I got very ill and dropped a lot of weight without trying. Irony is giving up on being skinny, only to accidentally gain the sort of lean frame I’d long wished and starved for. At first, I was overjoyed — a silver lining to the illness! Was I finally pretty?

Within six months I was still skinny, but I wasn’t happy anymore. I thought my arms should be more toned, my legs slimmer still. I was the thinnest I’d ever been, thinner than my goal weight, thinner than the girls my boyfriends had cheated on me with. And still I nitpicked, still I hated small details, still I accepted terrible treatment from boys. Eventually the stress of constantly hating my body actually made me start to gain weight.

Because — and this took me a long time to figure out — it wasn’t about the image in the mirror. It was about me, about the way I talk to myself, about the way I always strive for more and better, and about the way society keeps telling girls they’re never quite perfect. It was about the never-ending cycle of all that.

So, listen: Men don’t give a fuck about thigh gaps, or whether you’re five pounds heavier than you were last year. The ones that do? Don’t go home with them. But more importantly, stop telling yourself you’re not pretty enough and don’t let yourself be convinced that the measurement of your waist, or you breasts, or your wrists has anything to do with your worthiness. Stop giving mean girls the power and start treating every day like you’re a badass. And I promise to do the same.

*Name changed to protect the innocent.