I am a 43 year old woman who has had weight issues her entire life. In my teens I would starve myself till I was skin & bones and people told me I was “pretty”, and that I had done a “good job” of losing weight. I was bulimic as well, for when I’d get hungry, I’d eat and eat until I felt full, then I would race to the bathroom and rid myself of the “evil” calories before they had a chance to ruin my “good work”… Didn’t want people to think I was getting FAT. I was all about trying to be what society is conditioned to believe was “beautiful”, thin, face made up with all kinds of products designed to give a “natural” look, trendy clothing and shoes, no matter how utterly uncomfortable it may have been, as long as it LOOKED good. I was all about being something I never was, all in a desperate bid to “fit in”, to be liked. Then I figured something out: I AM AN INDIVIDUAL, I have my own thoughts, feelings, beliefs… I also figured out that I really should not follow along with what I do not believe in, just to be accepted… I figured this all out as recently (Better late than never, right??) as 7 years ago, when I uprooted myself from the only place I’d ever called home, Royal Oak, MI, and moved to California. This was a very insane, spontaneous move on the part of someone who was, till that time, a VERY staid homebody (I spent much of my time helping my Mom, as she was disabled due to MS, so I did not get out often). In explanation… 2006:My Mother (RIP) had recently suffered a massive stroke, and she was no longer able to care for herself. I unfortunately had no choice but to allow my uncle (Mom’s conservator) to place her in a nursing home. This left me with a problem. I could no longer afford the mortgage on the home I shared with Mom. With our home in foreclosure, I was homeless for a short time until my best friend, who had moved to CA months earlier, invited me to come live with him. I’ve been a CA resident since November 2006. I’ve only returned to MI once, in 2007, for the funeral of my Mom. It is when I became a Californian that I started to realize that I could finally start to figure myself out. I realized that I had no need to conform to societal standards of what is “normal”. I dyed my hair hot pink, reignited my love of Punk Rock music, and found it to be VERY liberating to rip off the mask of “normalcy” and discover new things about myself (or maybe even old things about myself that I had forgotten over the years…). I am also no longer afraid to tell the world that I’m an atheist, and that I’m bisexual. I’m only being honest, and also being ME. I went vegetarian back in 2012, and transitioned to vegan the following year after viewing a VERY eye opening documentary called “Earthlings” (Look it up on YouTube…). With the fact that I became a vegan having been said, I will also mention that I am FAT. 237 lbs to be exact at the moment. I only have one pet peeve about when I tell a stranger that I’m vegan, and that is when I casually mention it in a conversation, I get looked at as if my head’s on backwards and a reply of “YOU’RE vegan???” followed by “REALLY??” and then there’s the ever classic “OMG! I thought ALL vegans were skinny!!” My peeve lies not with the actual verbal responses themselves, but with the fact that if I were super skinny and mentioned that I’m vegan, I wouldn’t get nearly as much shock and disbelief over my choice to go vegan. My desire to live as cruelty free as I possibly can is seen as somehow being “weird” or even “radical”, and I don’t care how I seem to the neighbors, it’s my choice to live the rest of my life as I see fit. I have nobody to answer to for my lifestyle choices but me, myself, and I from now on, and that’s just how I like it.