H O M E .      A B O U T .      C O N T A C T .      T U M B L R .      T H E   B O O K   J O U R N A L .      sailorjennie [at] gmail [dot] com

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

I haven't ever been a small person.

I haven't ever been a small person.

When I was born I was oddly long, all limbs. My mother fondly recalls memories of meal times when I was small. The diary she kept detailing how I would gleefully eat pasta with tomato and garlic sauce and end up with it all over my face.

When I was young and told 'oh how tall you are' as if it were an achievement, I felt proud. Yes. I am tall. I am strong. I am something. As time marched on, it became a flaw. 'Gosh, you're tall'. So noticeable, at a time when I so desperately wanted to blend in. I wished I could disappear.

When I was twelve a boy who caught the same bus home as I did asked me out, whatever that means when you're twelve. I assumed it was a joke, shot him a puzzled look, and walked away without saying a word. I hope it was a joke. I hope I didn't hurt his feelings.

When I was fourteen I stopped eating breakfast. When I was fifteen I started throwing my lunch away as soon as I entered the school building. 'Oh how well you look, now all that puppy fat has melted away'. I don't know how I functioned through my exams. Seemingly solely fuelled on empty compliments.

As I have grown I have come to understand that I am, as someone who has helped me enormously has described as, a slightly off-centre person. And although I understand that now, it's a bit of a recent revelation. I won't run through a list of my particular quirks because it doesn't matter. All that matters is being nice to people.

The first mistake was mine. I was in a fragile place and tearing myself apart. Wishing I was 5'7. Wishing I was more intelligent. Wishing I physically took up less space. Wishing I could write more coherently. Because if those things were true then... then I would be happy, finally.

I fixated on one thing. And that thing was my body. I would tell myself that if I were smaller, I would be worthy. Worthy of friendship, of love, of success, whatever that means. The way I was somehow wasn't enough, and couldn't ever be enough. And I would be better, infinitely improved if my body looked different. Only now do I really see how that doesn't make sense. But it's taken a long time. Because sometimes there's a disparity between what we know to be true and what our minds allow us to believe at any given time.

My mistake was to seek validation from people I didn't know, who could say whatever they wanted in that moment, protected by the anonymity of the internet. This was a time when I found pure, unabashed joy in 'what I wore' posts. I needed someone, that I didn't know, to tell me that I looked nice. I posted some pictures that I'd been staring at for an hour, meticulously identifying everything I didn't like about myself. Part of me hoped that these thoughts were just me being too hard on myself, and part of me knew that if anyone did say anything nice I wouldn't believe them. But instead, someone took immense joy in confirming many of the horrible things I'd been thinking about myself. It was almost as though they could see into my mind.

I spiralled.

The problem: I'm very good at projecting an illusion of normality and I never looked like I had a problem.

As I stared at myself in the mirror one day I finally had a moment of clarity and I asked myself what I was doing. And then, for a long time, I felt annoyed with myself because I thought I was stronger. I knew not to let a stranger tell me how to feel. But I think when a comment confirms all the worst things you've been secretly thinking about yourself for an extended period of time, it's different. It's difficult to brush it off. Somewhere along the way I stopped caring about validation from others, but untangling myself from the depths of my own mind took a while.

I don't know what that person wanted to achieve with their words. I don't know what they were feeling in that moment. Maybe it made them feel better, for a few seconds. I don't know if they could sense I wasn't in a great place. I hope they didn't know. Because I don't think I can let myself believe that they were genuinely poking me to see if I'd implode. Mostly I just hope that they're okay. I'd like to believe that no one's end goal is to push someone over the edge. You can't ever know how someone is feeling at that time and projecting your feelings, no matter how low or hopeless you feel, on to someone else isn't healthy.

Please be nice to people. Please. And if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. By all means think what you want to think. Think about how much you don't like me, or whatever it is. That's fine. And I'm not saying that you can't ever be critical or that you can never disagree with anyone about anything. But choose your words carefully, please.

I will never be a small person.
That isn't who I'm meant to be.
When I consult with my legs about a thigh gap even my calves shrug to my thighs, not understanding the concept.
And I'm okay with that.

I'll nourish my body with what it needs, my mind with what it desires to learn, and my soul with the contentment that comes with the fulfilment of a life well lived.




  1. Oh Jennie, this was so beautifully written. I'm so sorry that someone left you a nasty, thoughtless comment that has affected you like this. You're beautiful just the way you are, inside and out, please don't let anyone tell you otherwise xxx

    Ioanna | hearting.co.uk

  2. Oh love! This is so beautifully written - I was always ridiculously tall when I was growing up and used to get similar comments... I'm just over 5'8 now and I still wish I was a little bit smaller so I could go out and wear heels. Haha!!

    PS - your figure looks incredible! xx

    1. I'm a similar height to you and also sometimes find myself wondering what it'd be like to be 5'6 or something. Probably the same as being our height, one of those grass is always greener situations!

  3. This is so beautifully written. I struggle every day with my body and how it looks and have no idea how I got through any of my exams etc either.. There is something so painfully socially acceptable about destroying yourself from the inside as it results in compliments? I am in total admiration for you after reading this post, and that you are nourishing your body. It deserves it. <3 Sending love and kisses.

    Alice | Whiskey Jars Blog

    1. I know, right? This experience has certainly made me more aware of what I'm saying to others because you just never know what's going on inside.

  4. Dear Jennie,

    thank you for your honesty and sharing yet another piece of you.
    I'm sorry you had to deal with these issues while growing up, nobody should have to go through this.
    And I'm sad and angry that someone took their time and engery to try and tear down someone so kind and beautiful like you.
    But mostly I'm impressed by your wisdom and how these hurtful experiences only made you stronger.
    Kindness is everything and it doesn't cost anything.
    'No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.' (Taylor Swift)
    Also, you're allowed to take up space.
    You're truly beautiful, inside and out and such an inspiration.
    Stay beautiful,


  5. Jennie, you are beautiful on the inside and the outside, no matter what anyone else has to say on the matter. I was always tall and went through the phase of thinking I'd be "better" in some unquantifiable way, if only I was smaller... I'd also skip breakfast and avoid lunch at school, and frankly it's a mystery to me as well how I got through my exams. I stopped growing at the age of 10 so mostly my friends caught me up (I'm 5'6, so I'm quite average now, but that's a bloomin' tall 10-year-old!) but strangely, I always wish I was taller now - I guess because it's what I always knew.
    This is a very long, rambling, incoherent comment - sorry. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I know where you're coming from and your feelings are valid, but I'm glad you're in a better place now. Lots of love.

    Jess xo | The Indigo Hours

    1. I sometimes find myself wondering what it would be like to be 5'6 or so and I don't think it would be much different, apart from maybe not being able to reach the top cupboards in my kitchen quite as well.

  6. Jennie, this is such a beautifully written post despite the heartbreaking subject. I'm so sorry that you were subjected to those nasty comments. I know exactly how that feels, maybe not online but I was given a lot of grief about my body from the age of about 7-16 by the people I considered to be my best friends. I was told that I was fat on a daily basis. I was told what clothes I looked bad in and all sorts. It got to the point where I started having panic attacks because I didn't quite know who I was anymore because I changed so much for them. I was even throwing up every morning before I went to school because I thought that might help. It's only now that I realise that they weren't friends, they were bullies and people so toxic to my life. I look back on pictures from those years and see that what they said was untrue but I still battle with those comments every day when I stand infront of a mirror, even now.

    I know how hard it is but I'm glad you've pushed through. Your posts make me think every time you write them and I often leave your blog feeling so inspired. You have such a beautiful personality and writing style, and you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Ignore those that feel the need to critisize and listen to all the comments that tell you how beautiful you are.

    I'm glad you're feeling better about it all (and I apologise for this very long winded comment).

    1. Other people's hurtful words can become so ingrained in our thoughts, it can be difficult to shake them off. I'm still battling with my mind when I feel hungry, because my first thought is often 'oh no, I can't eat anything yet' rather than 'ooh, what do I fancy?'.

      Thank you for your words and for always being lovely <3

  7. I seriously do not have the words to express how much I relate to this post and how much I wish I could put my thoughts together in such a way. All I can say is thank you for writing it. Just that. Thank you (and you are wonderful) xx

  8. That last sentence is a beautiful promise <3

  9. I think you're right and definitely think we should all just be nice to each other, you just don't know how that other person feels. It doesn't hurt to say something nice and make someone else smile. Be who you are and ignore anyone who has anything nasty to say.

    1. I understand that everything can't be sunshine and rainbows all the time, but I'll never understand the concept of saying something nasty for no real reason. It never achieves anything.

  10. I just wanted to say thank you very much for writing this very honest post. You sum up so well how people's comments can have a very negative effect on ourselves. It takes a lot to be able to like ourselves sometimes. You have shown that it is possible to do just this.
    Take care and all the best.

  11. Beautiful post, Jennie <3 I've always been tall since a young age (I think we are the same height!) and at times it was a little awkward but I embrace it fully now. I think you are a beauty and such a wonderfully kind and thoughtful person - thank you for being so honest and generous with your writing.

    1. Got to admit, it's really handy being able to reach high cupboards etc without having to dig out a step ladder. Thank you for your, always, lovely words. <3

  12. Beautifully written. As someone who's dealt with similar problems it's always nice to know you aren't alone. I've never understood what people get out of anonymously commenting awful things, we should be building each other up, not tearing each other down <3

  13. Dear Jennie,

    I don't think I would be able to write so beautifully about such a tough and personal subject. I admire you for doing that and for getting over such a dark part of your life. Can I also tell you that you will always be enough. Everything you do or feel will be enough. You don't have to feel the pressure from others around you who don't think you are enough, because you do.

    xx Eline

  14. You are so beautiful inside and out Jennie, I've always thought this and always will. So proud of you for writing so deeply and from the heart. People can be so cruel, and I really believe those that are cruel are only projecting and mirroring their own insecurities onto others. I really do believe that if this world was full of Jennie's it would be a better place for sure <3

    Sophie | soinspo xo

  15. it's a very small person who made those comments, and I feel sorry for their insecurity and unhappiness. You are beautiful inside and out, and I am so glad that you have come to accept yourself as you are - it's always work in progress, but you are doing everything right. x

  16. Such a beautiful post, Jennie and I agree with Sophie - you are absolutely beautiful, inside & out. I think when we get older and wiser, we realise it really is what's on the inside that counts...Personality & health wise.

    T x


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