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LIE #1: Fat Girls Don't Deserve Love [& other lies I believed for way too long]

I remember being called fat as early as 5 years old. Teased by school mates all through elementary school, I always had to wear larger sizes than the other girls. I even remember summers at the lake with my cousins - one of them only a few months younger than I, and I always needed a larger sized life jacket than she did. I was honestly so ashamed of that. It was a small scar, but one that I never outgrew.

 

In middle school, I was hollered at by strangers out of car windows things like, "Mooooooo!" or "Look at that beached whale!" In gym class I was never incredibly athletic, so that was never a fun environment already, but let's just be real - changing clothes and taking showers in the locker rooms at that age is downright cruel punishment for kids who are all at different stages of development. It did nothing for my self esteem.

 

When I was a high school cheerleader, not well-meaning strangers hollered at me from the grandstands things like, "Look, it's Dolly Parton! Watch where you put those things! You might hurt somebody!" And on days that there were games, we were required to wear our uniform all day at school to promote school spirit. I was often teased, pointed at, and snickered at in that short skirt and tight top. Once again, I had to wear the larger sized uniform than the other girls, but it was still skin tight on me. I felt like a freak, and was treated like one.

 

I was shamed and shamed into believing something was wrong my body, basically hiding myself behind baggy clothes and being afraid to be physically active out in the open for fear of being ridiculed and humiliated publicly. I was also led to believe that because of my weight I was less of a person and not worthy of people's time or attention. This was driven home rather hard by my lack of love life.

 

What's sad is I look back on pictures of myself from back then and don't think I looked fat at all. Sure, some people were honestly just mean, but I think ultimately the enemy had an agenda to destroy me at my weakest spot: at my source of worth. I honestly believed most of my life that I really was a total hippo. It shaped my opinion of myself in a really unhealthy and twisted way.

 

Reality was I was rarely asked out by guys (and to this day am still not). I was almost never asked to school dances (and can't recall the last date I ever had on New Years). Usually a desperate guy friend would finally agree to go to a school dance just days before when all his other options were exhausted. Then I was the girl who would be left sitting on the sidelines while everyone slow danced....because even my date didn't want to slow dance with me.

 

I quit cheerleading and stopped going out for any sports. Sadly, it is after I quit that my weight actually DID start to become a problem (and honestly, it has been a struggle for me ever since). It's like I became what they said I was, and they shamed me out of being active so that I became more sedentary to protect myself from being teased. Quite a horrible thing that evolved now that I look back on photos and think about the timing of it all.

 

I also became much less outgoing and started to be very quiet in school. I was always a bit of a nerd anyways, so I basically kept to my studies and artsy things. Friends from high school now say I barely ever spoke in class and mostly stared at my books. Being called fat and ugly led me to pursue things that I felt I could control - good grades and good performance (musically/artistically).

 

I stayed up half the night most of my high school years, studying or writing papers. I was fighting to get straight A's, which I mostly did achieve - all except my junior year of high school when I got that devastating C in Economics (which meant it was either just not my subject, or I had a horrible teacher....I vote for the latter).

 

I prided myself at being first chair flute player - not just in my school, but in the entire state. I sat second chair only once, and secretly vowed to never let it happen again. I was driven to be the best, for better or worse (I also think the latter). I was heavily involved in band, choir, and musical theater...and was usually at school morning 'til night for rehearsals or performances.

 

I wasn't afraid to sing my guts out like no one was watching, and therefore found acceptance on stage behind a microphone. I started writing songs from a young age as well, and used music as an outlet to express myself. I would write songs when a friend was moving away as a way to say goodbye. I would write a song for my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary. I would write a song for a boy who had no idea I existed. This was long before I ever wrote worship songs for the church, which I feel is a redemptive part of the story (more to come on that later).

 

I strived and strived to earn love and acceptance in whatever way I could, as any human being probably does at some level. Love is something we all long for, right? The reality is we will sometimes go to extremes to find it...I think I strived mostly by performing. Awaiting the applause (whether actually or metaphorically), hoping to feel validated in some way by what I could DO for people, by how I could impress them. But ultimately, I hoped I that I would win their love.

 

However, somewhere in there, my heart was convinced (matter of factly) that fat girls don't deserve love. Period. I was convinced that it didn't matter how talented I was, how funny or clever, how smart, how resourceful, how independent, how kind, how generous, how caring, how loyal, how loving, how amazing...I simply was not lovable if I was fat. It seemed proven time and again.

 

It seems preposterous now that I really believed that for so long. Well, let's be honest; I might have believed that yesterday, even. And I may believe it tomorrow. Really I fight believing it every day - but even so, it doesn't make it true. It is a lie. But as much as I know it in my head, my heart is still sometimes quite slow to follow.

 

I actually wrote a song a few years ago, called "Lovable" (you can listen by clicking here). It was in a season after my divorce (we'll talk more about that some other day), in a time where I felt valued by what I could offer people - my gifts, my talent, my friendship, etc...but I didn't feel fully loved for just being me. I felt like people loved pieces of me, but that no one (especially a man) wanted ALL of me. And I felt willing to trade my gifts & talents for this simple thing of just feeling loved completely, unconditionally. 

 

You know, sometimes women would see my seemingly "glamorous" singing-recording-touring-traveling-single-life and be somewhat envious, and would even tell me so sometimes. Little did they know that I was painfully envious of their husband-2 kids-white-picket-fence-life (complete with the family Christmas photos they mail out every year). The grass is always greener on the other side, you know?

 

I "joke" that selfies exist because loneliness does. Many of us long to share our lives with someone - anyone. I have traveled the world (mostly alone, sometimes in groups), but get teased a lot for posting a lot of selfies. I get it. I'm sure how it looks, but if you will allow me to let you into my secret thought-life...here is what happens when someone makes such a comment to me:

 

"Sure, on Christmas Day, it's okay for people to dress themselves up in their Sunday best and pose for a family photo, but God forbid I post a photo by myself in mine. How vain! I should never post pictures of myself, especially smiling or looking nice or feeling good about myself. I should never post selfies in beautiful places I am visiting to share with friends or family.....not until I have a family, at least. Posting pretty pictures of yourself is only allowed once you have a significant other to be in the picture with you, or a child, of course. Or a dog or cat. I mean, at least have the decency to have a pet in the picture with you. But certainly not you by yourself. How shameful! No one wants to see that! You should take it down!!!"

 

So that is a bit obnoxious, I admit...but I do have days I feel that way. I am poking fun a bit here, but there is some honesty and vulnerability there on behalf of those of us who are single and have been for a while. To this day, I fight the noise in my head that says I'm less of a person if I'm not married or don't have kids. I would love to be married and have a family. And anyone who is close to me knows I have sure put myself out there. It is not for lack of trying. It is just not what God has for me right now. This is my life. And I need to try and embrace that. And I hope that my friends and family can embrace me in this season, as well....a million selfies and all. ;)

 

Well, I got on a bit of a rabbit trail there, but here's the thing: I believe that all of us - whatever our issues may be - have some sort of very noisy, staticky, old recording on repeat in our heads that tends to plague us for most of our lives. What are the lies that have tormented you the most over the years? How have they affected you? How might God want to use something the enemy intended for harm to actually bring about some good - in your life, and in the lives of those around you?

 

"Fat girls don't deserve love" is one lie I definitely believed for way too long. It did force me to excel at other things in my life when I realized my looks wouldn't get me anywhere, so I guess for some of my success I can thank all the kids who teased me over the years. But in all seriousness, I do know that it gave me a great bit of compassion and empathy for the "least of these." I tend to notice people sitting in the corner of the room alone. I tend to notice the unlikely hidden talent that others sometimes overlook. And I am thankful for people who noticed the same in me and called it out over the years.

 

The thing is, deep down, I know I am worthy of love. I know I also have a lot of love to give. Even when that darn noisy old tape of lies plays - when I have yet *another* weekend or holiday spent alone - I know that I *do* deserve love. Every single one of you out there deserves love, too. No matter who you are, what you look like, how talented or gifted you think you are, or what anyone says about you....you are worthy of love. And you ARE loved.

 

I mean, let's be real, some of you out there may be married and have kids but still struggle with feeling lovable or beautiful or valuable, too. It's not that having a husband or children can "fix" what is broken in me any more than it can fix what may be broken in you. Only Jesus can. He is the one who fulfills our hearts. He is the one who satisfies our souls.

 

Do you know the story in the Bible about Jacob & Esau? If not, you should take some time to check it out...but I love this verse:

 

"Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears." (Hebrews 12, The Message)

 

The world sure works hard EVERY day to chip away at God's truth - the truth that HE is the one who satisfies our souls. Not a boyfriend/girlfriend. Not great success. Not money. Not fame. Not a recording contract. Not buying a new home. I know that I have to resist caving in to the way of the world - which tells me to cheaply give pieces of myself away, crumbs to whomever will take them, and to find ways to satisfy myself. This will lead to nowhere good. Tears and more tears. Regret and more regret. I have my fair share. It is worth it to wait on God. It is so very hard, and yet so very worth it. And He is so very faithful.

 

The Bible is FULL of stories of God's faithfulness. I need to read them over and over to remind myself of this when the world tries to tell me otherwise, when the father of lies comes rushing in like a flood when I'm home alone and feeling unloved. So when the enemy's awful tape of lies starts to play, I have a speech prepared. And I say it. I sing it. I write it. Maybe I should dance it, even. 

 

"I am the one and only Sherilyn, daughter of the Most High God. I am wonderfully made, and I will not believe the lies anymore. I will fight every day to cling to His truth...that I am lovable."

 

As I take some time this year to explore the multitudes of lies I have believed for way too long, I invite you to come on the journey with me and to allow the Lord into those places in your own heart as well - places where you have also believed the lies and allowed them to fester for way too long. May He also give you a speech to write, a song to sing, a dance to stomp out....right in the accuser's face! Let's create a beautiful symphony of truth together, living out our lives fully alive to all that God has planned for us!

 

"Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love." (Ephesians 1, The Msg)

 

PHOTOS: Me as a cheerleader in 2nd grade & 9th grade....

 

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Click the links below to read other blogs in the series "Fat Girls Don't Deserve Love [And other lies I believed for way too long]"

Preface: No More Stalling: It's Time to Be Brave

Lie #1: Fat Girls Don't Deserve Love

Lie #2: It's All Your Fault

Lie # 3: You're Just too Much but Never Quite Enough

Lie #4: You Are Invisible 

Lie #5: Divorced = Disqualified

Lie #6: You Are Broken & Useless

 

 

 

 

Comments Section

Wow, I want to respond but don't even know what to say except my heart breaks for all the hurt and pain you have had to endure--and yes, it's so hard not to believe the lies about our value and our weight--I too struggle to believe that I am acceptable and loved by Him no matter what--thank you for your vulnerability Sherilyn--
 

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