– Hey guys, my name’s Melody and my last relationship nearly destroyed me. The thing is, I’ve always been a size 16 or 18 and I struggled with self-confidence. I felt that I didn’t deserve love until I met this perfect guy that was interested in me. I was so in love and I felt like I was in a fairytale. After what he did to me, I can’t believe I was so blind. I saw Andrew the first day of freshman year. He walked into class a little bit late and everyone’s eyes turned to him. He was cute, athletic with an amazing smile that could light up the whole room. And… he was totally out of my league. He sat down in front of me and I couldn’t really focus on the subject anymore, I was watching and drooling, honestly. Later that week, I was walking home from school and suddenly I got a Facebook message from him asking for our math assignment. I wrote to him that I didn’t have it, but he called me anyway. We started to talk about Call of Duty and movies we’d seen. We clicked immediately. It was so easy talking to him – like we’d known each other forever. When I got home, I couldn’t keep myself from smiling. Soon enough, we were on the phone for hours every night. He even came to my home, I introduced him to my parents, he introduced me to his. But we never really talked at school. If he’d see me in a hallway, he’d just give me a nod or a half-smile and walk away. I figured he liked me and just didn’t want everybody knowing his business. You know, those couples who always walk around glued to each other or kissing all around the school really look ridiculous. But those hours after school, with Andrew’s arm around me and my head on his chest, were everything. On days when I’d feel self-conscious about my body, he’d hold me and say, “Anyone who can’t see how beautiful you are is blind.” He helped me to see myself in a different light. He was everything you’d want from a boyfriend – supportive and kind. About three months went by, and then one night before we got off the phone, he sounded kind of nervous and then blurted out, “I love you.” My heart was racing — it was like time had stopped. I think I managed to say “I love you too”, also stuttering. Then I hung up the phone and wanted to scream my lungs out. I couldn’t really sleep that night, I just kept imagining him, sitting in his room, holding his phone and saying these words. But not everybody was happy about us. I’d mentioned Andrew to a few friends, but every time they’d heard his name, they’d frown or sigh. It made me really angry, it seemed that they were jealous of me. I knew what they were thinking – “He’s out of her league. What could he see in her?” But after a while, I thought – enough. If they’re my friends, they should be happy for me. It was Friday, we were sitting at a lunch table when I lashed out at them. I told them, “I’m happy and he’s happy. Why can’t you see that?” Then one of my friends looked me in the eyes and just lied to me. She told me that Andrew is saying horrible things about me behind my back. That I’m fat, that we weren’t even friends, that I’m just making stuff up. Of course, I thought, “How could they know? They don’t know him. They judged him from the start.” I immediately laughed at them and walked away. At the time, I kinda thought that I didn’t need those friends, I only needed him. That night, I was talking with Andrew on the phone and I asked him about it. Of course, he denied it, he said “I love you, I’d never do that to you” and I felt safe. Nobody is going to come between us. Sophomore year, he finally agreed to be my date for the school formal. Andrew was finally ready to go public! I thought – that’ll show my friends that they were wrong about him all along. I found a perfect blue dress, I spent about two hours doing my hair and make-up. I was looking at myself, and seeing not only a beautiful girl, but a happy one as well. Hours before the dance, though, his mom called and said Andrew had an eye infection and couldn’t make it. I was crushed. I was sitting in my room, all dressed up and crying, but still… I hoped he was okay. I tried to call him but then I saw the pictures of Andrew out with his friends. I was scrolling through the pictures with tears running down my face. Why would he lie to me? Then all the dots lined up. It all made sense – him not wanting to go public, the rumors about what he was saying behind my back. Even though it made me feel like a dirty secret and it crushed my self-esteem even more, I couldn’t let him treat me this way. The next day, after school, I called him and said that I don’t want to see him or talk to him anymore. He was beyond angry. He got all defensive and said that he’d never loved me anyway. I cried my eyes out that week. I would hide in bathroom stalls during breaks, crying, ashamed, thinking everybody knows how ugly and pathetic I am. But one time, I saw him laughing near the class, this evil uncomfortable laugh and I saw everything in a different light. I’m not the problem – HE IS. As soon as I understood that, I stopped hating myself. And as I became more confident and happy with myself, guys even started paying attention to me! Now I feel that there are better, more confident guys out there who will feel lucky to be seen with me, and know that pretty comes in sizes other than zero. To truly love someone, you have to embrace everything about them — both inside and out. Now that I know that, I’m never going to let anyone hide me away again.