Advice to My Younger Self: Why Being A Fat Teenager Wasn’t So Bad


I always cringe when I realize that my goal weight today is actually the same weight I was as a teenager. Maybe you’re thinking that’s a completely predictable thing to say — that everyone wants to get back to their teen weight. For me, it’s a little different.

I was a fat teenager. I was the teen girl who was looked down on by her doctor as she hopped off the scale. I was the teen girl who sifted through sequined mother-of-the-bride dresses in the “large women’s” section during prom season, trying to find something that was age-appropriate. I have old diaries where, in the top right-hand corner, I’d written down my weight, circled the number, and drew a line over it. So, if I was a fat teen, why is that my goal weight now?

Well, I developed a lot of body-image issues as a plus-size teen. I became obsessed with wanting to make my 5’10” solidly curvy body look like the 5’2″ petite girls I went to school with. Focusing on being thin sent me down a very long path of yo-yo dieting that, at the end, left me larger than when I decided I needed to lose weight in the first place.

Today, I understand that I will probably will never be skinny, but I can absolutely be healthy. So today, I’m giving a little advice to my younger self about her body.

plus size prom cece olisa

All Bodies Are Beautiful — Including Yours
When I was younger, it was really easy to fixate on one look, one person — and make that my standard of beauty. Maybe it was the girl who got the part in the school play, or the girl who had all the boyfriends, but it was never my body. Now that I can see beauty in all bodies, I can appreciate my own more — no matter what size I am or how much my weight fluctuates.

Love The Body You Have Right Now
Looking back, I may have been a plus-size teen, but my body was in amazing shape. I was in dance classes five days a week and eating home-cooked meals from my mom. My skin was flawless and I didn’t need Spanx. I was living my best life, and I didn’t even know it.

I spent a lot of time loathing my body and trying to make it into something it wasn’t. If I could go back, I would’ve been grateful for my strong dancer’s body, not worried about being a certain dress size.

You’re Not As Fat As You Think You Are
If you had asked me to draw a photo of myself back then, it probably would have been 50 pounds heavier than I actually was. I think, sometimes, we have a warped image of ourselves in our heads. If only I’d been confident enough to see myself as others saw me, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten so caught up in how fat I thought I looked.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and while I wish I could have been more accepting of myself as a self-conscious teenager, I’m happy that I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m able to embrace my body and who I am without that constant, criticizing voice going off in my head.

Maybe my little pearls of learned wisdom will help some teenage girls struggling with body-image issues. Take it from me: It’s a waste of time to obsess about the way your body looks.

Read more of my work on Refinery29 here


When Insecure Men Make Us Insecure: My Response to LOUIE on FX “So did the Fat Lady” Episode 3 Season 4


When I was a sophomore in high school, I developed a crush on a nerdy freshman, with big teeth and braces who everyone called “Hee-Haw”.

I should start of by saying that I was a big girl who managed to defy all teen movie stereotypes: I was popular at my California high school, invited to my share of exclusive parties and I was asked to every prom.

I don’t know about you, but my high school was a funny place where the social “hierarchy” was quietly established and then followed without question. So when the crush I had on my little “Hee-Haw” became public, it shook up the status quo and two things happened.

1.) A popular upper classman who I was friends with, pulled me to the side after seeing me holding hands with Hee-Haw. “So, are you telling me you want to become… a ‘She-Haw’?!” he asked, running his hands through his hair. It felt like he was warning me that people would see me differently if I decided to date someone like him. I just laughed and explained that my crush was cute and funny and if that made me a ‘She-Haw’, oh well.

2.) A few unpopular (but skinny) freshman intercepted my little Hee-Haw as he made his way towards me and my crew during lunch. They pulled him into a corner, whispered and giggled while looking at me. It felt like they were warning him that people would see him differently if I decided to date someone like me. He broke up with me the next day.

I was secure enough in my popularity to date a guy that all of my friends made fun of, but my Hee-Haw was too insecure in who he was to date a fat girl. Oddly enough, being liked by a popular Plus Size Princess put Hee-Haw on the map and within a week he was dating a skinny girl who had never given him the time of day before.

I, on the other hand was emotionally bruised. He liked me until people found out… he liked me until people told him he shouldn’t. Better to date a skinny girl who used to ignore you than a fat girl who liked you when no one else did. That lesson stuck with me for a very long time… and it wasn’t until seeing this scene below from LOUIE on FX that I began to understand why I never became a She-Haw.

Before we look down our noses at my Hee-Haw for not being a strong enough teenager to publicly date a fat girl, I must examine where my crush came from in the first place. I actually had three senior boys who were interested in me (or maybe it was the DD boobies that came with my plus size body), I liked them too, but would never admit it. Instead I chose to pluck a Hee-Haw out of high school obscurity… why would I do that?

High school can be a fascinating social experiment. If physical appearance is social currency, then being overweight can put you into social debt.


Did I feel that my popularity and status was enough to get me invited to parties, but not enough to get me the boyfriend of my choice? Did I choose a Hee-Haw because deep down I thought my social status made me an upgrade for him even though my weight was a social liability?

Did I choose an insecure guy… out of insecurity?

The Hee-Haw was the last guy that I expressed interest in, his rejection stayed with me for a long time. When I moved to NYC for college and guys began approaching me, they were always very attractive, which was the last thing I expected (more on that in these posts: “Can a Big Girl Date a Hot Guy?” and “Superficial Fat Chicks and other Myths“).

As Sarah Baker states in her honest monologue, hot guys have nothing to lose if they date a big girl, they’re still hot. Its the insecure men who can’t handle it… its the men who are unsure of themselves that wonder if dating a big girl confirms that they aren’t as attractive as the next guy.

Unfortunately I spent too long letting insecure men make me feel insecure.

But here’s the deal: My job is to work on me, ditch the high school social games and place value on who I am at any size.

I can play the insecurity blame game, or I can keep it simple and know that when I’m confident in who I am I attract men who are confident in who they are… and that’s hot.

When Insecure Men Make Us Insecure My Response to LOUIE on FX


Shhh! You’re Interrupting my Body Confidence Party…


Have you ever been at a party where everyone was in the zone, dancing the night away and then a neighbor knocks on the door with a noise complaint and kills the whole vibe?

Sharing the intimate details of how I’m learning to love myself at any size isn’t an easy thing to do. But when your comments roll in and I realize I’m not alone, the body confidence party begins! Of course, on each post there’s always one vibe killing comment that goes something like this:

“Great piece. But being overweight is really unhealthy…”

The comment is usually followed by a cautionary list of ailments that I will get if I don’t start taking care of myself (diabetes, heart disease, etc.).

*record screeches to a halt*

Its as if people think I don’t know the health stats they’re quoting. Or as if they don’t care that I’m on a healthy curves journey. I feel like they’re saying I’m not skinny right now, then I have no business writing anything positive about my body or how I look.

This is the Plus Size Princess struggle.

CeCe Olisa Body Confidence Party.jpg

How do I love myself, value myself, care for myself at any size and keep the Body Confidence Party going, when there are people jumping at the chance to remind me that none of this matters if I’m still fat?

Mental health is a major part of plus size fitness, for me. I choose not to respond to negative comments, but I do want to mention it here with you girls because I know we’re all trying to figure this out together.

Finding ways to feel good about myself no matter what the scale says is the thing that makes me want to do better by my body; eat well, work out, pray/meditate. I’m running my own race and for me, I’ve got to tackle this #PSPfit healthy living thing mind, body and spirit.

There will always be people who can’t fathom that a person at our size (whatever that may be) feels good about herself. Those people seem to feel that they have a responsibility to interrupt our body confidence party with a PSA on how being fat is awful and unhealthy.

But hating yourself is awful and unhealthy too… so please stop killing my vibe!


My Weight Makes me Uncomfortable on Dates | Curvy Conversations | Plus Size Dating


Hey Cece!  

I am one of your biggest fans, I’m from Nairobi Kenya not sure if that rings a bell but anyhoo, I LOOOOVEEE you, your work i.e. your writing, and your #PSPfit….basically everything about you!
My question was kinda personal which is why I decided to email you directly. I’ve always felt self conscious about how much ‘wider’ I was compared to the dudes I liked and even went out with! Much like you, I also want to feel like a little bird with a guy or at the very least have him tower over me…I remember once I was on a movie date and I felt sooo awful because my ‘sides’ spilled over into his seat as well..and I remember being so sad and tense that I could hardly enjoy the movie!
Have you ever had this issue i.e. feeling self conscious in particular scenarios e.g. car rides, movie dates etc, where suddenly you were confronted with your size in comparison? Sigh I dont want this to ruin the next and final relationship…how does one ‘feel’ small or just get over this kind of reality? Hope I’m making sense….
Thanks loads for your time’re one of my imaginary mentors in my head! Lol
Hey Miss,
You are too sweet… I decided to answer your letter in a YouTube video. We all know that plus size dating can be frustrating, so even though you’re wrestling with some things I think its great that you’re putting yourself out there.

My main suggestion to you is to try and look at yourself as a total package. Guys are asking you out because they see something in you that’s special. We all have flaws, some more visible than others, but its up to us not to get so hung up on our flaws that we block the good things/people coming our way.

With Robert I feel more and more like a “little bird” with him because I let my guard down and open up. But it doesn’t come easy, but I have a feeling from your vivacious email that you can do it!



p.s. Does anyone else have advice for our friend from Nairobi?

p.p.s Registration for the #PSPfit Pre-Summer Clean Eating/Fitness Bootcamp opens on April 10th. Registration closes April 20th, pre register at for registration info, discount codes and membership giveaways! Questions? Email


Gabourey Sidibe & The Plus Size Community… Thoughts???


I’m hoping we can have a conversation about Gabourey Sidibe’s fashion/styling without making judgement on her health. You girls already know I’m passionate about plus size fitness and we all know that healthy living is a process that doesnt happen over night but don’t you think we all deserve to look good wherever we are on our health journey? None of us should “wait on our weight” in order to start dressing like the knockouts that we are.

That being said… why can’t won’t they let Gabourey Sidibe be great??



Seeing the photos of Gabourey on the red carpet, followed by the photos of her original dress really broke my heart which leads me to a few questions that I’m hoping you can help me with. Watch the video and catch more of my thoughts below:

Most of us have gone through some sort of teasing and bullying as a Plus Size Princess (I know I have!) so I understand the instinct to protect and defend her. Hearing people tear down her fashion sense might feel like picking on the fat girl all over again and I get it, the +size community has come too far to let that slide. But there is a huge difference between a fashion/styling issue and a body politics issue. This is a fashion issue and I think its totally fair to encourage plus size celebrities to look their best.

I also think its important to question why she’s constantly being styled in a way that overshadows her talent and beauty. I mean, if she walked the red carpet in a slam-dunk fabulous dress with perfect hair and makeup we’d be so busy talking about how great she looks and then we probably wouldn’t even have time to discuss her weight… hmmm wouldn’t that be awesome!



I’ve Lost Weight and Still Feel Like a “Big Girl” (Curvy Convo)


Hey CeCe,

I’ve been reading your blog for quite awhile now. I recently made a decision to lose weight earlier this year. I did a complete diet change, and I have been working out constantly. As of now I have lost over a total of 60lbs.

I am fine with not being skinny. I am more concerned about being healthy. My problem is, I can’t adapt to the “new me.” I guess I shouldn’t say new me because I’ve always been the same person.  Family and Friends constantly compliment me over this major transformation.
Of course, I say thank you and tell them what I’ve been doing to lose the weight. However, In my mind I’m still that “big girl”. I can’t seem to shake her out my life. She’s like a shadow I can’t hide from. I can shop at new places, and my body is more womanly than ever.
How do I learn to let her go? What makes it so hard to say goodbye to the old you?
Signed- CL
Hi CL,
I know there are some girls reading this who have lost significant amounts of weight… I’m really hoping they’ll leave comments for you down below because they probably have some great advice for us.
You and I have been emailing a bit over the past week, thanks so much for being patient while I  learned how to work my camera and filmed a video response for you… The video is blurry (augh!) but I’m still learning…so, here you go!

From the emails you’ve sent, you seem like a cool and confident girl. Please remember that you haven’t changed and from one size to the next, who you are wont change. We often ask people to look past appearances and see the person inside… I think we have to remember to do the same for ourselves.
Like I said in the video, treating our former/heavier self like a horrible person discounts all of the amazing things we’ve accomplished at a larger size. Life doesn’t begin when we lose weight, so we have to remember to honor all the different stages of our lives that help us to become who we are.
You’re a valuable person at your current size and you were a valuable person 60 pounds ago.
Hope that helps (…anyone else have thoughts for CL?)
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