Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: The Freshman 50.

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Your “high-school” body is your teenager body. You look back and see just how young your body looked; baby face, possible baby fat, B-cup size bra, and the list goes on.

But then college comes along, you enter your twenties, and then you notice your body changing. In society, people love to call that your “freshman 15”. People who were 15 pounds lighter just a year ago get upset about the weight gain, girls wish they had their high-school body again, not knowing that there’s more to your weight gain than the endless amounts of ramen you eat between classes. But what do you say to yourself when you were a fat girl as a teenager, yet gets even fatter throughout her twenties? Even more so, what if your “freshman 15” wasn’t even because of eating bad foods, what if it was a result of a health condition you had no idea about?

Hi, my name is Liz, and I had the “freshman 50”.

When I graduated high-school, I was a 200-pound teenage girl that was heavy for her age, but still was able to fit into a size 18-20. I was still able to get my clothes from most stores that weren’t online exclusive, I was able to wear things that were considered “flattering” to my body shape, and I wasn’t rocking a visible double chin. Although I didn’t like how I looked weight-wise during my teenage years, I didn’t consider myself to be “that fat”, not until I turned 19, and things started to change with my body.

After my first year of college, I started to get extremely bad lower back pain that would keep me up at night. There were nights I had to sleep in a sitting position because laying down was extremely painful, and there were nights when I didn’t sleep more than 3 hours a night due to the pain. One morning at 6AM, I cried to my mother, asking her to take me to the emergency room to see what was going on with my body. She did, and a couple of hours later, I found out I had gallstones. Later that year, I had surgery to remove my gallbladder, which was great since I wasn’t in pain anymore, but in doing so meant that I would have to watch my weight since it would be easier now to put on weight, and of course, I didn’t listen. 

Within the time I graduated high school to the time I became a sophomore in college, I had gained 50 pounds because of my now non-existent gallbladder.

Heres a little science lesson: the gallbladder is located right behind your liver, and it’s the part that helps store the biles, in other words: it helps the liver control the amount of fat by storing it, I guess; I got a D in my Biology class in college.

Anyway, when you remove the gallbladder, the liver has to work twice as hard, and if you don’t control the food you are eating or “eat healthier”, weight gain is inevitable. Me being a college student with a tight schedule meant that I was going to eat junk food in between classes just to hold me over until I got home. Before I knew it, I had gained 50 pounds, and I hated myself for doing it.

I hated myself for making that decision to remove my gallbladder; I kept telling myself that I would’ve rather be in pain and “thinner” than to be at ease and fatter. I hated that my weight gain, which everyone thought was due as me being careless of what I was eating, was caused by something I had no one control over. I couldn’t starve myself anymore; my stomach couldn’t handle not eating for hours at a time. Because of something I could not completely control, I hated my body for being what it was.

It took me a lot of conversations with other people, particularly plus-sized women who had the surgery done themselves, tell me that the same exact thing happened to them and they hated that it did at first. Knowing that I wasn’t alone and what I was feeling wasn’t completely irrational and stupid. This was a health condition that millions of people can’t control, and if you’re already overweight, you have a higher chance of getting gallstones.

Six years later, and I’ve accepted that I was a part of that group of people that gained weight after their years in high-school. Some people are able to lose weight and “glo’ up”, and others simply just can’t. It took me years to finally understand that our bodies change, and even the skinniest of people who were teenagers develop into adults, and sometimes that requires weight gain. It also took me years to accept that fate for myself as well, that although I was overweight in my teenage years, that my body is going to develop and change as well, and that requires some weight gain as well.

We, as a society, tend to forget that when we grow up, our bodies do as well. Our legs get thicker, our boobs get bigger, and yes, asses do get fatter. But stomachs do as well, and we shouldn’t punish our bodies for doing the one thing it’s supposed to do, which is to develop.

Also, we have to stop thinking that weight gain occurs only because of overeating and poor food choices. Yeah, it plays a role, but some of the people in society have actual health issues that cause extreme weight gain. Some medications cause weight gain, some diseases cause weight gain, your health conditions could be the reason you gain weight, like me!

Instead of hating yourself for the uncontrollable, be gentle with your body. She’s doing the best to keep you up and running! Just because she’s heavier, doesn’t make her any less deserving of your love.

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