Because Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, I think it’s time we address the pink elephant in the room. One of the biggest myths (let’s keep it real, lies), passed down from generation to generation of women is: big girls can’t find love. That’s right. I said it out loud because since the age of 5 there has been someone to remind me “if you don’t lose weight, boys won’t like you.” And it’s high time we lay this tale to rest. Here’s my story, I hope it inspires you to see things a little differently.

I have been a curvy girl (my preferred term) my entire life.

And for as long as I can remember I have been getting the message “the big girl never gets the guy.” The message was so loud it was deafening. From family to school, even on my favorite tv show at the time, Moesha, where Kim, her plump costar had to chase boys for a date the way boys chased Moesha. It’s a hell of a message to ignore. But I’ve always had an inkling that it might not be true. After all, my dad has always adored my mom, and she’s full-figured (I like this term too)  like me. I wanted to be chosen too.

But in my 11 year old mind I figured: if none of the boys at school like you, it must be true—you’ll never get the guy. Then puberty hit, and imagine my utter surprise when boys started to pay me attention. It was such a shock to the system I thought that any guy that liked me was one worth holding on to. I was happy to be chosen by anyone because of course, ultimately, no one chooses the big girl. I finally felt like I was getting lucky in love, sorry to say, this was not the case. And a string of not so great (dare I say toxic?) relationships followed. So what changed it all? Taking control of my self image.

“Plus, there’s no bigger confidence boost than having international men pledge their undying love to you.”

At first, I started to focus on weight, because that’s what I thought had been the problem all along. Then living abroad opened my mind to a whole new world. And it dawned on me, if I was awesome enough to explore the world at the tender age of 23, I was awesome enough to be loved. Plus, there’s no bigger confidence boost than having international men pledge their undying love to you. Actually, you know what’s even better? Declining their invitations, now that will make you feel like a real boss. I realized that it wasn’t the weight holding me back, it was how I felt about myself that determined whether I was attractive or not. Turns out it was me doing the choosing all along.

Everyone’s body is different and everyone’s experience is different.

But one thing I know now for sure is that it’s not size that makes you loveable or attractive. It’s how you feel about yourself that makes all the difference. From now on we’re not out here waiting to be chosen, we’re doing the choosing and that starts with choosing ourselves. So do me a favor this Valentine’s Day whether you’re hooked up with a boo or riding solo—don’t believe the hype.