01/07/2014 08:38 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Anti-Diet Project: No One Looks Cute On A StairMaster

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I am an adult. I pay taxes. I vacuum, sometimes. I buy the fancy toothpaste. I do all those things a grown-ass woman should do, which now includes a reasonable amount of exercise on a regular basis. Yet, the second I get to the gym and hit that locker room, well — I'm in the locker room again.

As a kid, I was never pelted with tampons or subjected to boob-shaming by my peers after gym class. Sure, there was plenty of teasing and name calling in the halls as I was growing up an almost-but-not-really chubby kid before hitting an early puberty hard right around third grade. But, in the locker room, it was my own eyes that pried and compared and loathed what they saw in the mirror: a wonky, round girl jammed into school gym shorts that were clearly designed for the hipless. Things only got worse when we hit the soccer field and I watched my stick-thin classmates leap around like baby gazelles while I tried inventing a new way of running that somehow kept my butt from bouncing. Instead, I looked like I was practicing an elaborate pantomime of cross-country skiing. It did not catch on.

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