By Alexandra Headrick: I was six the first time I remember hearing the word “fat.”

I was tall at the time -- so tall, in fact, that my parents had me tested for a host of thyroid diseases, only to be told that I was simply hitting my growth spurt early. I was a head taller than any kid in my class, miserably placed on the back row in every school picture.

And we know how well kids treat those who are different.

Fat. Ugly. Gigantic. Jolly Fat Giant.

To find solace from these words, I often played by myself under the jungle gym.  And sometime during those lonely school recesses I accepted the taunts to be true.

Even after the growth spurt stopped in sixth grade and I settled at a very normal five foot five.  The damage had been done, the lies sunk too deep into my soul -- accepted, believed, and obeyed.  Those words weren’t just about physical appearance to me; they spoke about my very worth.

The insidious thing about labels is that true or not,  if you hear something long enough, you begin to believe it.

And if you believe it, you begin to become it.

By middle school I found myself binging on food because it made me feel better. It couldn’t talk back, it couldn’t taunt or tease, and it was always there. It was a quick fix for my sick soul. I’d eat myself sick and then starve myself for days, and the weight piled on.

And we know how well kids treat those who are different.

That label, fat, stuck like glue through high school, through college, and up until this very year. It sat in my soul, festering, until I decided one day I didn’t have to keep it. I didn’t have to accept it or believe it.

The moral of this story is this-- words matter. Not just the words you say, but the ones you accept. The ones we believe and let become a part of us. Those matter too, maybe even more.

If you believe it, you begin to become it.

So what labels have you accepted? What lies have you believed? And what do you need to start becoming today?