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Monday, December 5, 2011

When Did You First Feel Fat?


When did you first “feel” fat? When did you first get the feeling that there was something about you that wasn’t quite right, as far as other people were concerned? Do you remember the exact moment?

I remember my moment vividly. I was in grade six, so I guess I was about 11 or 12. It was close to the end of the school year. Me and my friends were getting ready to start grade seven, and that meant junior high and leaving the safe nest of grade school. I was known as a “browner” or a brain … the kind of kid all the teachers loved. All the kids liked me too, as far as I knew. I got everything with everyone, had lots of friends, and was generally happy.

There was this boy in our class who was famous for his big imagination and for writing stories. It was always a treat for us when we heard him read one of his stories aloud, and it was always a big production. What made them even more enjoyable was that he would use us as characters in his stories, using our particular names. His friends were usually his regular characters, but every once in awhile, he would slip in one of us he had never used as a character before, and it would be a big surprise for the lucky class member. I had never been cast in one of his stories before … until that day.

I forget the actual subject matter of the story. I know it was a horror story, because he was famous for his horror stories, and he liked to subject his characters to gruesome deaths, which delighted everyone. When he got to me, however, he didn’t use my name – he just said the name “Cannonball” -- and somehow, everyone knew that meant me. I remember everyone looking at me and laughing. I felt my face go beet red. I smiled and pretended to laugh along with them, but I remember how horrified and obtrusive I felt. Up until then, I had been accepted and admired. Suddenly, something had changed. I had been singled out for something, and it wasn’t anything good. I realized it was solely because of my body.

Little did I know that was just the start, and it was actually an ominous clue about what was to come. The following year, when I started grade seven, I was subjected to a horrendous amount of bullying about my size. No one came to my defense; most of the kids just laughed along with the bullies or joined in, or they were too preoccupied with their own social lives to care about what was happening to me. It was quite the learning experience, and one I never forgot. I got the message: to be different was to be a target. To be different was almost like death.

When did you first get the message that your body was not acceptable? Who did you get it from? How do you feel about it now that you are an adult and can look back at it with adult eyes?

Cruelty and ridicule are not the proprietary domain of children. Plenty of adults can be just as prejudicial and discriminatory. At least kids have ignorance for an excuse … adults don’t. Adults are fully capable of assessing their actions and choosing whether or not to perform them.

The next time someone makes you “feel” fat, consider who the message is coming from and why they might want to make you feel that way. What’s in it for them? What are they getting out of making you feel that way?

Whenever someone makes your size an issue, it’s not about you. It’s about them. A normal, happy person does not feel the need to single anyone out for criticism or ridicule. They are doing it to deflect attention from themselves -- because THEY feel deficient in some way.

I may not have realized this when I was a kid, but I sure as hell know it now. I vowed a long time ago that I would never let anyone make me feel deficient because of my size again. And I never have, and never will. That's not a self-congratulatory boast or brag and I don't need or want any pats on the back for it. It's simply a fact.
   

4 comments:

  1. not the fresh prince of bad ronaldDecember 5, 2011 at 5:55 PM

    dont remember exactly but probably when some bully called me a fat fuck...there were a bunch who used the back lane to get to school id run into them sometimes it wasnt every morning for some reason i didnt avoid them they used to call me a nazi pig so one morning i said seig heil and did the salute and they stopped it was a jock his buddy and a skank cheerleader who was about half a dolly parton ie. huge bazooms well thats how i remember it... by admiting i was hitler or goebbles or georing by becoming what they said i was by sort of standing up to them they quit...i wish id had the balls the strength the anger just to kick the shit out of them big tits included

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  2. Haha, I love it. :) I hear you ... if you're going to assault anybody, the time to do it is when you're young enough to get away with it legally (not that I'm encouraging that or anything, nyuk nyuk).

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  3. I think in Junior High School when I realized that I was not one of those fat guys who carried most of their weight in the torso area.

    I carried my fat all over, fat legs, larger butt and a pair of huge moobs to top things off.

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  4. Thanks for commenting, William! Other than my brother, I think you're the first guy to share your thoughts here. I love it. Please keep reading and commenting! :)

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