Part of the problem in grammar school was that I was also taller than half the girls (and boys), so even if I only had twenty pounds on them, I had a few inches and might as well have been a monster considering them as part of my next meal.
Kids are cruel, and the height thing is funny because as I got older, people who cared about me, and loved me would also justify my weight commentary with “Yea, but you’re tall” as if the length somehow justified the width, I mean those are two different measurements.
Years later in high school – my all girls, all races, religions, colors, shapes and sizes high school I remember singing a jingle to a commercial and a classmate saying “You need to be singing 1-800-94-Jenny for some Jenny Craig”. She herself was fat, but in a different way.
Once you get to college nobody cares what you look like. Except a few people – but they don’t CARE they just want you to know they know whatever flaw or weakness you have.
After college I think it was a non-issue. Well, I mean the commentary or insecurity (to a degree) not the being fat. That stayed. Then was less, then was more, then less and there were shakes and pills and fads and supplements and restrictions and juice fasts.
When my mom and I talked about my weight situation a few years ago, she commented about how despite it having been a struggle or an issue for me, it never really affected my quality of life. It didn’t. I always had friends, acquaintances, I was invited to more things than I wanted to participate in, had boyfriends and flings, had jobs and made moderately useful contributions to my community and society.
The only person who truly cared about my weight was me. Oh, and some dicks I met working as a waitress or drunk guys at parties.
I forcibly chased a guy out of a friend’s party once because he called me fat. Looking back, I don’t think he even used the word fat, just the implication that I was and I was mortified in front of a bunch of people whose names I don’t even remember now even though they probably live and work right where I left them.
I pushed him with my voice, out the door, down the hall and down a flight of steps, halfway through it he started complaining that he brought beer or wine coolers and wanted them back if he had to leave; I said something like “No fucking way are you going back in there, here’s your money” and I was tossing fives and ones at him while I visually shoved him down the stairs. He was nobody to me and the majority of the people in that room probably weren’t either, but I was not letting him have the last word on me.
I’d rather be the one people talked about as a bitch or loudmouth than fat. It was as if I had let everyone know I had this one syllable kryptonite that rendered me mean and sad inside the minute it was unleashed.
Now, almost out of my thirties I know that words really only have the value we give them, and even as a writer, on a small scale, I know that sticks and stones may break my bones but words ain’t shit.
So yea, I always had a pretty normal quality of life. I didn’t worry that in a middle of the night fire I would burn to death because a fireman couldn’t lift me out of my bed, or that in the event of a plane crashing into water I would drown because the only way out was a miniature window I might be able to stick my arm through. I was never afraid that I would be loveless and grow old alone with a bevy of pets and unwritten love letters. I had never really had anything go on in my life that I attributed positively or negatively to my weight, until I did.
And back to pills and shakes and supplements and counting points, and not eating carbs, and only eating cabbage and drinking my weight in water, cutting out dairy, juicing every fruit and vegetable in my fridge, cutting out meat, not even looking at desserts.
These were rarely ever done at the same time, I didn’t ever have an eating disorder, not in the traditional sense anyhow. But someone who spent that much of their life counting and cutting and avoiding definitely had some eating issues.