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The Pool by Margie

I am a teenage girl, fourteen years old. I remember always believing I was fat my entire life, due to countless little incidents that added up to create my more recent disgusting self – image. I would always take things too personally, and IÝwas to the point of being paranoid of fat comments. When my mother would say, “We have to get you in a sport!”, I would seethe with anger and self-pity under my smiling image. When I would make some random comment about my “fat”, as I did much too frequently, my male friend would inform me that I wasn’t fat, but “plump”. I remember once, my friends and I played a joke on a boy from school that I hardly knew, and talked to him online without him being aware of our identity. I remember trying to hide the pain of this boy I didn’t know telling us that I was overweight and ugly. Those close to me would always tell me I wasn’t fat, and would become irritated at my self-consciousness. My best friend and I would always call ourselves fat and never let a moment pass without saying some self-derogatory comment. These things all happened in the past year, when I was in eighth grade. You must be thinking, “no big deal” to the slight incidents I have mentioned, and to my tales of insecurity. The majority of teenage girls experience this. I lived my life this way, happy with a shade of sadness. Last week, a friend and I biked to the local pool. We were standing in the locker rooms, arranging our things and so on. Two other girls, who happened to be thin and impeccably tan, were adjusting their bikinis and talking about their problems with too many boys liking them at once. Typically, my friend and I traded wry glances, laughing silently at their problems that we found so trivial to our own just because of the fact that we happened to be a bit chubbier then them. Suddenly, my friend left the locker room, with myself trailing behind, bewildered. When we reached our bikes, she explained to me that she just couldn’t swim with everyone around her, judging her and thinking she was fat. I was astonished. I knew we pitied ourselves as a daily routine, but to prepare to do some mundane activity and suddenly pass on it right before because we thought we were too fat was too much for me to handle at the moment. That is when I had my personal epiphany and began to accept myself as a person. My friend and I walked our bikes halfway home, while I explained to her how we had to live our lives to the fullest, and not kill ourselves by constantly hating ourselves because of society. The same time as I persuaded her to go back to the pool, I persuaded myself to begin accepting myself as the best thing I can be right now, my own person. I used to envy the girl in my class that spent her eighth grade year doing an exercise video at five every morning before school, and sat at lunch, tapping her fingers with boredom and staring at out meals with a restrained hunger. I used to envy her because I thought she had willpower, to become the thing society accepted: thin. On that walk back to the pool, I realized that I was proud of myself for having willpower. The willpower to be myself and not change because of what other people wanted me to do. That was the first time in so long that I was proud of how I felt about myself. My friend and I returned to that pool deck, and I shed my clothes to stand in front of neighbors, friends, and strangers in my swim suit, and I jumped into the pool.