When you are curvy and overweight, everyone really likes to remind you of that — like kids at school, your parents, the fitting room girl at the Gap — just in case you’d forgotten all the reasons you’re supposed to be hating yourself.

Now I spent elementary school and high school being bullied. My first few years at college, I spent bulimic. And the last 10 or so years, I’ve really been trying to come to terms with how I really look. And I’ve done that — give or take — I’ve learned to like my body overall; it just kind of seems like other people still have a problem with it.

For example, I get comments like this…”I have no idea how someone as obese as you managed to land a husband,” or, “Maybe instead of writing about food, you should go on a diet,” or, “I’m not sure why anyone’s telling you you are pretty, I just see another fat girl on the Internet.” The shocking part? All from women — every single one of those comments. And they stung, but I’m used to hearing them and they don’t disable me anymore.

…But then, I had a daughter. And everything kind of changed. The thought, for one moment, that anybody would tell her that she was worthless based on how she looked — my stomach dropped, my heart stopped. Every single emotion I felt when I was 8 and had been mooed at in elementary school came back to me.

…so I decided…that talking about change is really great, but what’s more important is being the change that you want to see. So that’s what I had to do — I had to be the change. I had to redefine what normal in beauty looked like in this country…

So on May 26th, at 7 AM, with 5 of my friends in the middle of Times Square on Good Morning America, between Emeril Lagasse and a cart selling hot nuts, I stood in my bathing suit — on national television…Every single part of my body wanted me to find my pants, get the hell out of there, but I didn’t. And I didn’t, because I wanted to show people what women in this country look like…

I did this for you. And I did this for my daughter, and your daughter, and your mom, and your friends, and your sister, and all of those people. So if I can inspire you enough that you can get up in the morning and hate your body less than you did the day before, it was worth every second next to that hot nut cart.

Writer and editor of Curvy Girl Guide, Brittany Gibbons, in her talk “Courageous Beauty,” at TEDxBGSU.

Brittany’s talk is just one of this week’s TEDxTalks Editor’s Picks celebrating TEDxWomen, taking place November 30 and December 1 worldwide.
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