What’s my story always sounds so weird to me. For me it’s who am I? What shaped me into the crazy lady I am today? It’s not just my story, but it’s part of who I am and how I became the me I am today. I’m from a family of four sisters and a single mother, I’m youngest and biggest. I was always the “little big sister”, which was never meant to be malicious but endearing, which it was I know my sisters loved and love me regardless of my size. However, it does tend to reinforce the difference of body size/shapes, which leads one to wonder is mine okay, does everyone notice? Most of my life I have been confident regardless of how my body, my body size/shape as whole never hindered my confidence. It’s not to say I didn’t have my issues, I found ways to hide them and move on. Thighs were easy, I was in capris or jeans for life or so I thought. Arms? Well every girl knows the story of 1,000 cardigans, I don’t need to elaborate. My belly? Well for some crazy reason I’ve always been down with my belly. In fact I had always wanted a tankini growing up, but oh only if I lost a certain amount of weight could I have one. Regardless of these things I always maintained a high level of confidence & happiness. My entire life people have always complimented me on my confidence, “I commend her for her confidence” or “she’s confident for a big girl”, neither of those ever made sense to me, confidence isn’t just based on your looks, but how you feel inside. I’ve always been perfectly happy with myself, my body, my crazy personality, it was society and what we shouldn’t like that kept me covering up my body. I knew I had big arms, I knew they could still lift things, sometimes they could lift more than the person standing next to me. I’d keep my stronger arms covered for fear of judgement, same goes for my thighs. Why wouldn’t my beautiful thighs be stronger, they’ve been carrying my hiney around for years! It was in the fourth grade that I learned I needed to cover my arms, and in my 20’s when they started to see the sun again. I was in the fourth grade, I wore a tank top to school it was summer. I sat down at my desk, our desks were in groups of four. The boy next to me said “ew, I don’t want to sit next to your fat arms”. I didn’t have a response, because I couldn’t even understand. It’s when I realized my arms were so much bigger than others, and it wasn’t okay. My thighs followed suit shortly after. I happily wore cardigans and capris for years and years to please others. I’ve always been the girl that does things to make others, without realizing it I was compromising my own comfort to satisfy the eyes of people I barely even knew. What made me stop covering up, and completely accept those arms and legs? A year in Bolivia. As a Vermonter going to Bolivia I basically knew that I was going to sweat to death if I wore cardigans and capris for year. Not saying I didn’t bring capris because I did, why wouldn’t I have they grew on me after years of wearing them. Anyways, in Bolivia I was ALWAYS the biggest person EVERYWHERE. I was always called the fat American, pretty much every day. It’s when I realized no matter you are or where you are there will always be someone or everyone who is displeased with something about you. I wore ALL the tank tops, & shorts I wanted. The one thing I didn’t do there? Go to the waterpark. Why? That was the one thing I was willing to face, back home I’d wear shorts over my swimsuits, sure as heck wasn’t even wearing one at the water park in Bolivia. I will say that I did wear one to the school pool party and nothing horribly traumatizing came of it. I came home and slowly started making changes, more t-shirts no jeans until November. Overtime, I’ve totally given up cardigans unless I actually need one for warmth. I love it, less layers one less thing to match! How are my thighs? They are amazing, they love the sun! They’ve gotten so much sun this year along with my belly! It wasn’t until this summer, summer 2016 that I wore a tankini or a bikini for the first time, honestly I’m way more confident in them than I ever was in a one piece! I decided screw standards, I’m buying some of these plus size bikinis, they obviously make them because everyone looks like a babe in a bikini. I’ve totally gotten over what other people think and what they want or are expecting to see, it’s my comfort and my body that comes first! I had always thought I had the most confidence ever, until this year and I wore those bikinis without a care in the world. Letting go and not caring about what society wants to see boosted my confidence to more than I thought it could be. Long story short, letting go and fighting the battle within is where it all begins. Whether your battle is pleasing the world, or pleasing yourself, it starts on the inside. It takes small steps, but you can find that happiness or confidence or both, whichever or whatever, it’s already within you.