Jen is from Alberta, Canada. She’s obsessed with the Edmonton Oilers ice hockey team and spreading the love of Jesus to the world.
Not believing the lie
From the earliest of ages I can recall being called a “bigger girl” because I was tall. It wasn’t until I was in my last year of elementary that this escalated to extremes. Most people in my year level did not know me as Jennifer but knew me as “Tanker”. It was a term that was chucked around a few times on the playground in passing but turned into a name that stuck with me through my final year of elementary. Even my closest of friends called me this. I believed what they called me, I mean they were after all, my friends. Believing I was bigger meant that I believed I wasn’t beautiful and in turn I had to fit in. It was hard enough trying to navigate through my early teens than to have to try and fit into the mold of skinny too.
When I entered my first year of junior high, I was relieved that I was starting a new school and the great thing with a fresh start is that you can be whoever you want to be. First decision I made was to lose weight. I did not want this nickname resurfacing. So I did what I thought was the easiest and fastest way to make this transformation happen – I starved myself. I hardly ate anything for 3 months. I lost weight, but I also lost chunks of my hair, was irritable, constantly dizzy and tired. One of my friends intervened and challenged me to see a counselor. I was diagnosed with a very mild form of anorexia. I sought treatment and by the end of grade 7, I was given a clean bill of health.
Since then, although they are far and few between, I still have days when I struggle with how I see myself. As a 31-year-old, I’ve realized a few truths about myself that make these days easier. Firstly, skinny does not mean better. Skinny and fat is how we tag people. I no longer want to be skinny, I just want to be healthy and happy. Secondly, the thing I care most about is my soul. I want to get to heaven and lucky enough for me, whether I am skinny or bigger, black or white, tall or short, it’s not going to matter when I am dead. What’s going to matter is how I lived my life and how I treated and loved people.
I recently babysat a friend’s young daughter. As I was talking to my friend after this, she shared with me that her daughter had mentioned me randomly. She said “Mom, do you remember that ‘different girl?’ the girl with the glasses…the beautiful one.” I was brought to tears that this young girl saw me as beautiful. As I reflected about it later on, I realized that this young girls’ innocence and pure reflection of the world, was her seeing me the way God sees me – “the Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7).
The name “tanker” will stay with me for the rest of my life and although I can’t change anything that happened back than, I am confident in knowing that I am loved because of who I am and not how I look. You who are reading this, You are beautiful, You are loved, and You are enough!