Project Open Voices: Here Is A Story About My Body

The Thrill is proud to feature personal narratives courtesy of Project Open Voices, a coalition of students providing a platform for open dialogue on campus. Today’s essay is titled “Here Is A Story About My Body” and was authored anonymously. POV is always accepting new submissions, so if you want to share your story, email If you would like to remain anonymous, you can submit by signing into a second email account: (password: kenyoncollege). POV meets Saturdays at 4pm in the Bemis music room in Peirce; new faces are always welcome. 

Kenyon was the first campus I visited. Immediately, I had a sense that I could find my own place here. No other school gave me that gut reaction; it felt like fate had handed me my choice.

I carried a lot of things with me on the plane as I flew back home. I had a vision of my future, a mixture of excitement for college and ennui for high school, and small, hidden behind everything else, a nagging feeling that I wasn’t going to fit in. On my visit, I had noticed a few things about Kenyon students: they were smart, outgoing, creative and fashionable, but most of all, they were skinny.

These worries nagged at me as I finished school and slogged through the boring, stretched-out summer before college. They poked my belly as I met my first roommate, as I went out to my first party, every time I spoke in class. They wrapped their fingers around my wrists as I made it successfully through my first year, into the summer, up to the present day. They squeeze my lungs and my heart as I write this.

At Kenyon, I take up too much space. I sit folded into my chair during class, crossing my legs like pretzels or pulling my knees up to my chin. In the Peirce servery, I can gaze over tops of heads. Were people back home this small? I notice myself rolling my shoulders, hunching, softening, trying to make myself small and malleable, trying not to stand out. I don’t know if I could stand up straight if I tried. I’m uncomfortable with how it feels.

This year, at the age of 19, I told my friends for the first time that I have bought and worn plus-sized clothing. It was just one line I added to a casual conversation, nothing like a coming-out, but I was surprised to feel adrenaline pump through my body.

I notice myself rolling my shoulders, hunching, softening, trying to make myself small and malleable, trying not to stand out.

I never stop thinking about my body. It’s always in the way, preventing me from reaching my potential, preventing people from loving me, stopping them from seeing who I really am. If you asked me to describe myself, I would tell you about my appearance before my character or my personality. But only now have I begun the process of growing into my identity as a person who has been plus-size since a very young age.

I want so badly to be able to talk about my body in a factual way without feeling the need to constantly demean myself. I want to be to say that yes, this is the way I am shaped, and yes, it has affected my experiences every single day. Sometimes I want to be able to say that I don’t like the way we talk about health! Or about other people’s bodies and appearances! And yes, these things bother me in particular because I have been ashamed of my body for as long as I can remember! And I still am.

I guess in some way I was convinced that I was hiding myself by never talking about it, that the minute I spoke honestly about my body you would all wake up from this blissful illusion and run away screaming from the reality that I take up a little more space than the average person. But now I am telling you, because I want you to hear this. I want to be acknowledged. I don’t want to feel guilty about my existence.

2 responses

  1. Beautiful, sincere writing. This is a topic so close to my heart and so true to my own experiences. I know how truly awful these feelings of ugliness and shame in your own body can be and I wish you peace. I found that Kenyon was a place that got me a few steps closer to accepting myself, because I met people who loved themselves. I hope the same is true for you.

  2. This is incredible and amazing and important and beautifully written. Know that you are not alone, and that every word of this narrative felt like words coming out of my own mouth, though I have never had the courage to say them. I am confident there are many, many, many others that feel the same way.

    Importantly, Kenyon community, please take your discomfort in reading the experiences of an oppressed person, and instead of choosing to ignore (or worse, belittle) their feelings, please ask yourself what we as a community might be doing to create and perpetuate an environment that makes people feel this way.

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