For three years she went mostly unnoticed through High School, but now almost everybody knows her name. Caroline Kelley is one of the anchors of our daily morning news and since she started to appear on nearly every smartboard in third period, many people are greeting her in the hallways or yelling out her catchphrase when they see her. However, the seemingly always happy, smiling and outgoing senior has had a rough past, that she bravely opened up to me about.
I first got to know Caroline in our Astronomy class. Instantly, she made me feel welcome and told me that we would be best friends, even though she just knew me for just a few minutes. She always finds a way to make you laugh and tries to befriend everyone. Over all, this girl is one of the sweetest people I have ever met, which made it even more shocking, when she told me her history of struggling with depression and body issues.
Her whole life, Caroline had felt insecure about herself and the way she looked, especially concerning her weight. Until the beginning of this year, she weighed 166 pounds with a height of 5’0 and was therefore classified as obese. She never felt comfortable around her friends, who all had the “ideal body type” meaning, “they are all size 2’s with flat stomachs and absolutely no stretch marks,” as she described it. Always comparing herself to them, she slowly started to hate her body and even came to a point, where it was so bad, that she developed a depression.
The self-hatred began in seventh grade. She “hated the fact that no guys were interested in [her], that [she] couldn’t walk up the stairs without being out of breath, that [her] clothes stopped fitting after only a few months.” On top of that, she stopped caring about her outfits in her freshman year. “I started to wear …” she now shamefully exclaimed.
Eventually, she reached rock bottom in her junior year, because of a boy. As cliche as it sounds, Caroline had a big crush on a guy in her sophomore year and decided to invite him to her birthday party. He however, told his friends that he “would never be interested in [her]”, which she of course, immediately connected to her weight and the depression got to its’ worst point.
Finally, she and her mother decided to do a Weight Watchers program. Caroline’s whole family joined the program and together, they not only changed their eating habits, but also went to the gym every day. Instead of having five bowls of cereal every morning, she eats a healthy breakfast and completely avoids ice cream. Another important part of her “diet” are smaller meals, fruits and vegetables, and drinking plenty of water; although Caroline told me that she does not see it as a diet, but rather as a lifestyle change.
She claims that “[Weight Watchers] one hundred percent saved [her] life,” as she not only went through physical changes. “My mindset has completely changed. I don’t hate myself anymore, I actually like hanging out with friends, because I do feel more comfortable with my body,” is what she proudly told me, when I asked for the results.
Caroline is really happy now that she finally overcame her self-hatred, and hopes that everyone that is going through a similar situation finds their way out of it. “I just want all of those people to see the potential in themselves, because they are worth so much more than what they think,” she tells me. She also has a message for all people dealing with obesity and/or hating themselves: “Happiness will be achieved, when you stop waiting for it and just live in the moment.”
Right now, after completely changing her way of living and losing over 34 pounds, Caroline now enjoys her life to the fullest. When she is not working at Wendy’s, (which she definitely does not recommend- as she describes, the customers are rude, the management is poor, and the food is toxic), she loves to hang out with friends and watch movies or go bowling with them.
Another hobby she really likes is coloring things. Not painting, just coloring things, as it is very calming. (By the way, her favorite color is blue).
Next summer, Caroline will graduate and leave for college. She hopes to get into either Fredonia or SUNY Cortland, where she wants to major in political science. Her ultimate dream is to become a divorce attorney and of course, to find love.
High school is tough for almost everyone. For some students it is the huge workload and the want to please all the people around them, others are struggling with acceptance and finding themselves. Many teenagers do not overcome those struggles, some even break under them. Caroline, however, proved how strong willed she is by making the decision to change her life. She worked hard to get where she is and is closer than ever to achieve her goal of having her dream weight.