Elizabeth Fraser - Reality Check (Tom Bateman/AQ)

You can’t hide under your clothes forever. I know what’s under there. We all do.

We all have a couple of bumps, extra skin and what look like squiggly red pen marks drawn on our bodies and unfortunately, we can’t white these ones out. We would like to resemble a Calvin Klein or Victoria’s Secret model, but most of us just can’t. Face it, some of us are shaped like flag poles or hot air balloons and we hate it. Reality check: We all have minor OCD when it comes to our appearances.

Growing up, I was a freakin’ blimp. Dad said it was genetic, Mom called me her butterball. My favourite hobby was eating foods with absolutely no nutritious value. Why eat a stalk of celery when you can eat an upsized combo meal at McDonalds? Why do squats when you can “exercise” your fingers with the click of a mouse or by opening a bag of Lays chips?

Every day after school, I used to come home and watch two to three hours of Full House or Saved by the Bell – and I would clean out the fridge while doing so. Often all I left was a couple Brussels sprouts and a lone asparagus. I ate everything from raw Pizza Pops to hot dog buns, from canned beans to an entire box of Kraft Dinner – all before suppertime, too. Most people call it the freshman 15, I called it the Grade 4 35.

My parents often made me run around the block to burn it off, but I’d walk when they weren’t looking. I skipped gym class by faking rare illnesses and “forgetting” my gym clothes.

When I rode my bicycle, which was almost never, I hopped off and walked every time I hit a “hill” – I’m from the prairies, by the way. When all the other kids were shopping at Northern Getaway and Gap Kids, my mother brought me to Northern Reflections because I couldn’t fit into a regular pair of jeans. I only wish I was kidding.

By middle school, I needed to lose a truck load of weight so I wouldn’t have a heart attack by 15. Ever since then, I’ve felt like I need to look like a strand of fishing wire in order to fit in. Girls, I know you think it too. You refrain from indulging in an Oreo cookie because you know it’ll head straight to your arms, waist, stomach, legs, hips or love handles – you name it.

And I know you guys can feel the same sort of pressure too.

The beach balls on your arms are nice, and I’m sure the gallon of protein shakes you have for breakfast tastes decent (ish). Beach season is on its way and we all want to look like gods in a string bikini or speedo. We go on “water only” diets, count points and load the Olympic bar with eight plates of 45 kilograms.

But you don’t need to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator to be healthy. We should not define ourselves by the inches around our waist. It’s nice to look like a competitive body builder, but you don’t need to be solid like a block of low-fat cheese.

Of course it’s nice to fit into a pair of “real” denim jeans, but you can still do that without agonizing over your appearance. After all, Hercules is just a cartoon and Barbie is just a piece of plastic.

Just remember, your clothes can’t hide you forever, so don’t forget to work it every once and a while.

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