My Niece and I at 14


I paid my old high school a visit today. There I met my enthusiastic niece, a teacher, and we happily chatted for a while. My other niece, who is 14 years old and a student in the same school, later told me that some boys from her class asked her about the ‘fat’ woman speaking to their teacher (thanks boys). She told them that I was her aunt and to that one of her friends remarked, “Your family is all so big and fat”. We had a good laugh.

I realized that I could laugh today but had anybody called me ‘big and fat’ when I was 14, I would have been affected. I admired my niece for not being like me when I was her age. She laughed more than anyone of us.

Like everybody else in my family, I had been the tallest in my class and bigger than my peers. I wasn’t a confident child and didn’t like standing at the end of the line mounting over my tiny classmates (hence my terrible posture). I clearly remember a biology class when I was probably 13. Our Science teacher was explaining the human anatomy to us and he said that usually, our body growth is completed by the time we reach 15. This information, though not actually accurate, gave me a breath of relieve. The whole of that year, I waited to turn 15 so that I may stop growing taller.

I am not even that tall, just 5’6, but most times I feel pretty tall. My niece is already taller than me and has many years of developing to come and she is ready for it. Being part of this generation, obsessed with feather weight, my niece isn’t intimidated by what she sees in others but loves the way she is, something quite extraordinary for somebody her age. I suspect that she even enjoys towering over her friends. She is more than happy that her larger-than-average shoe size is rarely found in our small town and uses it for her benefit.

Watching and observing her today, I wished to re-live my high school days and be as confident as her. I realized I missed many things because I always thought that my size was a disadvantage. Yes, I have gotten over my image issues but the scars remained very long after high school. I just needed somebody to tell me the wonderful things about being tall and big. Surely, we must have said or done something right for my niece to be able to accept and celebrate her body at an age when she is supposed to be hating everything about her self-image. It is not possible for me to time-travel so I will just bask in the satisfaction that she isn’t wasting her best years lamenting over insignificant details that cannot be changed.


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