I think when I was about 5 or 6, I started getting fat. Not just slightly overweight, but fat. By the time I was 11 I weighed 211 pounds. I know this to be true because there was an incident at school where the teacher was doing a science experiment. She weighed everyone in the class, posted the weights for all to see (literally, not just the class could see, but the entire school), and said, “well, Julie can sit down because we know she’s the fattest and therefore she will be the slowest”. I was devastated. It wasn’t bad enough to be ridiculed and mocked by my peers, but now I had adults chiming in. I went home and said something to my parents, which was rare, because normally I kept that stuff to myself. The teacher was fired after that, but really it didn’t make it any better. It was too late. The damage was already done.
It’s not as if I didn’t realize, even at 11 years old, that I was fat. What I want to know is why people felt the need to point out the obvious? “Wow you’re fat….mooo, don’t sit on me you will crush me……..fat ass.” Fact, I know I was fat, I lived it every day and was reminded of how fat I had become just by looking in the mirror. I needed no help from anyone to point out to me what I already was well aware of. In the middle of my 7th grade year, I moved. I thought this was my ticket out of the constant slew of being made fun of, bullied really. Not so much. Same hateful words, just different faces.
By the time my freshman year of high school rolled around, I managed to drop a little bit of weight, but not enough to make a difference. I was still morbidly obese. At 14 this is a hard pill to swallow. It’s even harder to swallow when you have the world reiterating what you already know to be true. I had people not only calling me every name under the sun as I walked by, but I had them spitting on me, throwing things at me, and then the shear brutal laughter that always came along with it. What is it about making fun of another human being that gets people so happy? Some of the responses that I have received over the years as to why are beyond me.
I had a person tell me once that they thought making fun of me would motivate me to diet and lose weight. Right, because if I turned the tables, would me making fun of this person motivate them to be less of a bully? Think about it, how does beating someone down so far into the ground help them stand on their own two feet? It doesn’t. Telling me I was fat wasn’t going to make me put on running shoes and it certainly wasn’t going to make a bright bulb light up over my head. I’m fat…..get out of town! While I was bothered by the fact I was fat, I want to know why it bothers you more. I don’t remember where I read it, probably something that had been passed around via Facebook, but I read a story where a teacher had her class of I think kindergarteners crumple up a piece of paper. Then she had them smooth it out. While they could smooth it out to a point, they couldn’t get all the wrinkles they had made out of this piece of paper. She turned to them and said that’s what bullying does to other people. Try as you may to smooth out the damage, but it’s always there.
High School was probably one of the worst times in my life. I’m not one of those students who can look back and say that party was awesome, those teachers were awesome, remember that time….yeah that was awesome. No, what I can look back and say is remember that time in 10th grade when you went to try out for a play and the TEACHER said, “you can’t be in any of my plays because you are too fat” or remember when you tried to sit in class and people threw spit balls at the back of your head….yeah that was awesome (eye roll).
College did not get any better for me. One would think that the childish behavior and torment would have ended because you think that when a person reaches a certain age, they should know better. Well, I needed to remember that I had adults throughout my life be just as nasty and horrible as my peers. So it really shouldn’t have surprised me that it was about to happen all over again in college, but it did. I had a dorm mate threaten to kill me because “he would do the world a favor and get rid of the fat people in it”. Who knew that my being fat had such a profound effect on others. Crazy really.
For years and I mean YEARS, I tried to diet. My mother once took me into a basement for a Weight Watchers meeting. I was 12. At 14, I begged her to let me do Nutri System/Jenny Craig (I did both). I lost 50 pounds. I gained it all back and then some. I’m not going to sit here and say that I didn’t eat my way into my own health nightmare, but I did try for over 10 years to lose weight before I ultimately had gastric bypass aka weight loss surgery. However, no amount of ridicule that I ever endured ever motivated me to do anything other than cry for hours and hours on end and then go eat more food.
Now I’m an adult, I have lost all my weight, I’m married, I have 3 beautiful children. I’m lucky. Lucky that I was strong. Lucky that daily bullying didn’t make me jump of a bridge or stand in a clock tower to take out my angst. How would you have felt had I not been so strong and lucky? I may be “thin” (and I still think that’s funny to refer to myself as thin because I don’t see myself that way, I still see the 263 pound girl looking back at me) but I’m still the same person as I always was. I’m not even going to get into the weight loss side of things because that’s an entirely different blog for another day, but I will say that weight loss surgery, for me, has not come without complications. But back to blaming fat people for all the problems of the world……yes, I actually read somewhere that it’s fat people causing all the problems.
Newsflash, it’s not people who are heavy causing problems (unless they are aholes because newsflash again, not all fat people are jolly), it’s people who go around making their life mission to belittle another human being. To those who seem to get something out of putting another human being down, for whatever reason really, are you without faults? Are your teeth perfect? Do you make millions? Are you in the best shape and have 6 pack abs? Do you teach your children well? Do you leave a mark in this world, other than the footprints and knife marks you leave in people’s backs? Do you even fathom the damage you can do to someone just by calling them a name? Before you go invading my space to look in my mirror and tell me what’s looking back, try looking into your own mirror first.