When I first realized I was fat, I was about ten.
I vividly remember changing after gym and a (not fat) classmate held up a gym uniform shirt and said “Jodi, is this yours? It looks kind of BIG” I don’t know how I reacted at the time but roughly twenty-seven years later I remember the interaction, so it obviously had some impact.
Sometime after the whole barfing in church fiasco, when the dust had settled, the carpets were replaced and nobody remembered when we returned back to school after two weeks of candy cane comas and snowball fights, my life went on.
That summer or the one after I am sitting in the kitchen with my mom and a good friend of hers, and my best friend at the time. I don’t think anyone used the word diet, I don’t think I was being punished and I don’t think my mom was trying to do anything but be a good parent and help me before I really needed some help.
I remember a pear. A green, hard in some spots, brown and mushy in other spots pear. I whined about it. Could I have a different snack, why did it have to be a pear and why did that pear have to have those gross spots, why couldn’t I pick a different one that maybe didn’t have spots? Forget a speckled banana or carrot sticks, I wasn’t into it.
But the other thing I wasn’t into was being the biggest girl in my class, and I was. Bigger even than some of the boys.
Everyone noticed, and while nobody ever put a dog bone in my sandwich like a girlfriend of mine had experienced because those little shit boys wanted her to know they thought was a “dog” in the looks department … or made fun of my hairy legs because my mom wouldn’t let me shave them and called me things ranging from hairy man to monkey and sent me home crying to my mom – who then showed up and gave us all a lecture about how to treat people in a thick accent that was only ridiculed behind her back later like another classmate experienced – they did call me fat.
Full of blubber.
That last one was a witty creation from the brain of the boy I had the biggest crush on, of course. Years later I will watch that Drew Barrymore movie when the kids at school call her “Josie Grossie” and I will totally get it and be transported back to grammar school days.
The days of wondering if my women’s dress for the dinner dance would be flattering when it was altered, and confiding in a girlfriend that I weighed something like 170 pounds (not sure if that was a lie in my favor in itself) are behind me, but you don’t forget them.
As an adult I can tell you the word fat is subjective and really just used for the purpose of criticism, judgement and making others feel badly about themselves. It’s such a small, stupid word but it can break your heart or ruin years of your life depending on who utters it.