I considered not posting anything about this, because it is nothing new. Heck, it’s not even a new subject for this blog.
The writer remembers being in 4th grade when she first remembers hearing from a doctor that she was fat. I don’t even remember the first time anymore. I do remember being in what had to be 5th grade, because we were living in Mankato, MN and by the summer between 6th and 7th grades, I had a so-called victory by losing enough weight to be 145 pounds. I can pinpoint it, not only because we moved from Kent, OH to Mankato in the beginning of my 5th grade year.
My mother doesn’t remember it happening, because she believes she would have torn into that doctor for making comments like that. I remember clearly being told that at 90 pounds, I was “morbidly obese” (and yes, the doctor was “kind” enough to define it for me). I asked what weight I should be and was told I should be 45 pounds. Remember, this was probably Fall of 1978 – Spring of 1979. Looking at “ideal” weight charts for 10 year old girls now, the weight I should have been would be 70.5 pounds. Slight difference there, no?
In less than a year and a half, I was up to over 150 pounds, so losing en0ugh weight to be 145 WAS a victory, even if it was considered minor. By freshman year of high school, I was 190 pounds. And by graduation I was well over 350 – even WITH walking several miles both flat on the ground and up and down stairs all day every weekday.My body has NEVER been my friend as far back as I can remember. The shame was also doubled, because I constantly compared myself to my sister who weighed approximately 145 in college.
I’m not saying that my parents or grandmother went out of their way to destroy what little self-image I had cobbled together as a child. No, if I look back on it now, the things I heard from them were meant to be encouraging and/or supportive. Some of those comments were a mistake, but all three of my care-givers were/are human – and they weren’t perfect…even if my pre-teen self expected them to be.
The only way I was able to build ANY self-image whatsoever in my teens was to develop that armor, develop the Ice Queen/Robot facade so that I kept everyone at arm’s length. Too bad I never realized that in doing so, I was also making it impossible for anyone to consider me as girlfriend material. So, I spent my teen years lonely for romance, and anger building inside where I had locked it away.
EVERYTHING these days tell children that they are bad, wrong or even evil if they are fat. Oh, nothing and no one ever comes out and bluntly says that (except for the occasional Internet troll or bully). But between society, the medical industry, friends and their own family they are repeatedly told they are worthless and bad.
I spent decades thinking of myself as a “sedentary” female. Why? Because EVERYTHING I read, everything I saw on TV, everything I learned in school all said that if I was fat it was MY fault, because I wasn’t getting enough exercise. Like I said, 5 days a week, I walked miles both horizontally and up-and-down stairs. The other two days, I wasn’t exactly sitting on my ass either – the cafeteria and the student union were on the opposite end of the campus from where my dorm was. And the dorm itself wasn’t very small either, nor were we ever allowed to use the elevator unless we had broken a leg or a foot. And I swam every chance I could.
Every doctor during my first 20 years of life told me I was sedentary. If these people with all this experience say it, it must be true….right? Hell, I had dieticians and therapists tell me I was LYING about my food intake and the amount of movement I did in an average day.
So, no. I no longer will accept your “tough love.” I will no longer accept YOUR definition of what is healthy in regards to my own body. You focus on yours, and I’ll focus on mine. But don’t expect me to hang my head in shame for being fat. You have no idea what I’ve lived, survived or done.