...currently writing from Los Angeles, CA
Body positivity was something that was difficult for me to achieve throughout my life. I grew up always being the biggest kid in my class in terms of my weight. In 4th grade I was 130 lbs. It felt like all of my friends were smaller and I felt like I never really fit in. By the time I got serious about football in 8th grade I was 200 lbs., and I had to get down to 185 lbs. I achieved my goal. Throughout high school I accepted culture’s view that, “skinny is the way to go.” I would go through times where I would not eat, just so I could seem attractive.
In my personal journey, it was always difficult because I would compare myself to my friends, (even though they loved me for who I was.) I was always in a hidden competition with them because I saw how they were seen as attractive, and I thought it was because they were skinny and more defined. It was hard because I wanted to shop at A&F, Hollister, and all the places that had “good-looking” models wearing clothes, (instead of going downtown to the swap meet to find bigger sized clothes.) It took me forever to realize that I was meant for 2x shirts and 3x shirts! Ha! But – it was challenging because I wanted to be everybody else; I didn't want to be myself.
I think my lowest was: being in 11th grade and wanting to play linebacker for my football team after transferring to a different school. I practiced one day there, and then they moved me back to defensive line where “280 lb. guys were supposed to play.” At that point I was disappointed and didn't feel validated at all because I wasn't doing what I wanted. But, as the year went on, I began see myself in a different light. I could see that I was my size for a reason, and that I had to keep working on my body.
When my Junior Year came around, I began accept that I was big for a good reason. I started to learn how to shape my body to be strong and fit. Once I gained acceptance of who I was, I began to see my body in a positive light. I continue to be thankful and work on my body to this day so that I meet my own standards, and not live by what culture says I “should” look like.
After my Junior Year of High School I went to both a USC football camp, and a Fresno State football camp. People kept saying how I had “good size and strength.” My dad and I began to train in a brand new way and I had a very dominant season. I accepted who I was as a “big boy” and I began to say to myself that I was, “a beautiful creation,” no matter what the world said. Then, when I got to college I developed the swagger with it and then the rest was history. I am currently 320 lbs. Of muscle.
I now have the keys to lose or gain weight as I please, depending on what is going on with football. When I began to excel at football I began to think differently about how my body operates. It may not be as fast as someone who is 185 lbs., but it is darn fast for someone who is 300 and over. I am thankful for the way I was created to be.
If I can give anybody a message of hope about thinking positively about their body, I would say: know right away that you are a unique creation and that nobody in the world has the body that you have. It is beautiful, and the more you believe that, the less you will struggle.
I would also encourage you with the thought that: it is imperative that you continue to mold and shape your body to the way you feel it should be, and to give yourself realistic goals. Never be complacent with where you are but stay hungry to keep improving. Your validation doesn't come from what the world may say about you, but by what your Creator thinks, and what you think about yourself.
When I accepted who I was, I took off. I’ve been honored with: 2 years playing at Glendale College, 2 years at Illinois State, 2 NFL regional combines, a pro day, and a Canadian Football tryout. I also went on to eventually play for the Los Angeles Kiss Arena Football Team, and then won a championship with the Sioux Fall Storm. You can accomplish great things by winning the mental battle, and then your physical accomplishments will follow.
My formula for positive thinking about your body is simple:
Acceptance + Ambition = Victory.
- Samuel Campbell