You never forget the first time you get called ‘fat’. For me, it was in 9th grade, as I was walking across the street to softball practice. I remember the two boys in my grade who had hurled ‘fat-ass’ at me and then proceeded to laugh like my shocked face was the punchline to their demented joke. I can remember it so vividly. I could still tell you the names of the guilty party. 7 years later.
For me, it was in 9th grade, as I was walking across the street to softball practice. I remember the two boys in my grade who had hurled ‘fat-ass’ at me and then proceeded to laugh like my shocked face was the punchline to their demented joke. I can remember it so vividly.
I remember holding back tears, while my face flushed with embarrassment. I have never been good at hiding my feelings. I walked the rest of the way to practice with my arms crossed over my too-large stomach and felt the rub of my chunky thighs in my stretchy softball uniform.
I came home that night and turned circles in the mirror, investigating myself from every angle. My legs were too short and fat, my torso too long and wide, my shoulders too broad. Everything was wrong. I was wrong.
I harbored these negative feelings for so long, and to this day, sometimes still think back to the insecure 13-year-old who was taught to hate her body by boys who probably don’t even remember the incident.
And in my mind, that is such a sad fact. That I have residual body shame from something that happened 7 years ago, while the boys get to live like nothing ever happened. They aren’t responsible in their minds.
Another separate incident was much later in high school, probably 11th grade. I was sitting next to a boy at a party, probably making small talk about school or whatever else happened to be going on in my life. He eyed me up and down in an outfit that I had probably taken hours to pick out and had pulled at all night to get to sit flat and said straight to my face
“You’re a little heavy, aren’t you?”
I immediately got up and ran sobbing to the bathroom, consoled by my ‘skinny friends’, who caught the eye of every boy at the party.
And how ridiculous both of these incidents are. I’m sure they aren’t uncommon either. I can feel myself reacting viscerally to these memories as if they happened yesterday. I can’t let them go.
I have these insulted inked into my skin. They follow me, and sit comfortably in the back of my mind, every time I try on a pair of jeans, or get dressed for a party, or go to the beach. These little words nip at my heels, omnipresent and ever so annoying.
I hate that these things happened and now I have to live with them. As much as I wish I could preach “let it go”, in this case, it’s just hard. I built the rest of my teenage years around being the chubby friend, the ugly friend, and the friend who relied on self-deprecating humor to please other people.
I’m still, despite being a junior in college, the scared and hurt girl I was in high school a lot of the time.
I have gotten better, though. Each year, I think about myself less and less as ‘fat’. I push the negativity out as soon as it surfaces, and think about something I like about myself, like my freckles, or my sense of humor, or my smile. I try not to put a value on myself for how I look, but for who I am on the inside.
I realized very recently that a lot of my insecurity about my weight comes from the fact that deep down I know I will never be the super thin model type. It is just not in my DNA. I decided that if I couldn’t be skinny, I could most definitely be strong.
This realization changed the way I treated my body, and how I lived. It changed how I exercised, and how I felt about the reading the number on the scale (on the rare occasion I ever come in contact with one). I revel in building muscle and being toned. I love the feeling of being strong.
Since then, I’m sure I’ve been labeled fat too many times to count, albeit not to my face. I’ve just learned it’s better not to worry myself with trivial things like other peoples worthless opinions of what my body should look like.
Skinny should not be the archetypal body we all strive for. There is no right body. If you are skinny, good! Embrace it! But if you’re short, or strong or just don’t want a label put on you, then we should be happy with that too.
All of this is easier said than done, and body confidence is already a highly talked about subject, but sometimes I still feel like we as a society tend to forget about it. Or we say “body positivity” and then later “I look fat”. I catch myself doing this contradictory dance too often. Maybe one day I’ll learn.