Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: #ThunderThighs.

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If it wasn’t hard seeing myself becoming heavier and heavier throughout my college years, it was hard to hear people actually talk about it out loud.

Hi, my name is Liz, and this picture is the reason why I didn’t go out to a pool or a beach during the summer for 4 years straight.

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My aunt and her family had just moved to New Jersey the year before this picture was taken. This day was July 5th, 2014. Because it rained on the Fourth of July that year, my aunt’s sister-in-law decided to throw the patriotic-themed party on the following day. Living only 5 minutes away from my aunt, her house was beautiful; there were a lot of smaller rooms in the house compared to my aunt’s, but this house was definitely a lot more modern, and their backyard was amazing. I was really excited to finally be swimming in a pool again after not doing so since my aunt left her house in Staten Island and moved to Jersey in 2013. I was in my happy place, and my sister took this picture with my phone to document the beautiful summer day we were having.

I posted this picture both on Facebook and Instagram with the caption, “#ThunderThighs”.

A couple of days later, my family and I are back in our NYC apartment, hanging out in the kitchen, talking about the amazing time we had that weekend in New Jersey. As we are talking, my mother informs me that my dad had told her the day prior that a family member of ours on my social media commented on my weight in this picture. This person asked my father if I was alright because I was “really heavy” and “looking unhealthy”. My sister got really upset at the comment made, and at that moment, I shrugged it off. To the world, I was so accepting of my body and I did not care what other people thought about it. Behind closed doors, I felt violated.

I deleted the picture on both of my social media accounts, and never felt like i was meant to wear a swimsuit, or anything showing skin, ever again.

It was the fact that I knew I was getting heavier that killed me. It was the fact that the surgery I had done just 10 months before that day that I started to rapidly gain weight. It showed in my body, my face, my everything, and I tried my best to not hate myself for my body being like this, as well as accept that it was something out of my control.

It took me years to put on a swimsuit again; 4 years actually. I still get extremely nervous wearing a swimsuit in public at a beach or pool. Slowly but surely, I’m not caring about what others see my body as.

The thing people failed to realize is that not all weight gain happens because you’re eating 3 burgers and 2 cartons of ice-cream every day. Some weight gain is caused by illness and diseases, as well as aftermaths of surgeries. If we are going to be sympathetic to those with illness and diseases that cause people to lose weight rapidly, let’s keep that same energy for the other side of the spectrum, shall we? I say this because, during this time in my life, it was extremely hard for me to come to terms with my weight gain because it happened so fast. I was barely eating, I had quit soda drinking for a year at this point, and yet people called me unhealthy and heavy, not knowing that this weight gain was simply something out of my reach.

At 25, I know I’m even heavier than I was in that picture, and I don’t hate myself for it. Would I love to lose some weight for my health? Of course, but I’m not going to sit here and hate my body for being what it is.

So yeah, my thunder thighs are still with me, and they aren’t afraid to be shown in shorts, dresses, skirts, nor swimsuits. My thunder thighs are large and in-charge.

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