I knew that I was fat, when I was about 8. I was bigger, I was the tallest in the class. I am a genetic making of German stock. I was told to finish my plate and was given ice cream milkshakes as a bonding tool for a post-divorce meltdown between my parents. They did they best they could, I’m not blaming at all.
I was called IHOP at school by the skinniest girl in class. I went to her birthday party and when I asked for a second cupcake, I’ll never forget the look of disgust on her Mom’s face. The fat girl wanting another cupcake. She told me no.
I distinctly remember a time when I went to a department store with my Grandma. She was going to buy me some new clothes.
We walked all around the store looking for things that would fit me. Thighs in my family were referred to as ‘thunder thighs’ by women, and I started to believe that I to had ‘thunder thighs’.
“Excuse me,” my Grandma asked the store attendant, “but, I was wondering if you had girls clothes in a bigger size.”
The store attendant looked at her perplexed. I remember feeling very embarrassed, what was my Grandma trying to get at?
“Umm, well maybe in a ‘husky’ size?” my Grandma said quietly, as though she was trying to find words to soften the blow of ‘fat, overweight, too big for kids clothes’. Trying to make it a non-issue, but trying to get to the point as quickly as possible.
“No, I’m sorry we don’t have clothes for ‘husky’ girls. But you can always try the teen or women’s sections,” the store attendant responded diplomatically.
I remember promising myself, at 10 years old, that I wouldn’t get over 190lbs. Once I got to 190lbs, that I’d stop eating candy bars. I’d take things seriously.
There’s NO WAY that I’ll blame any of my issues, short-comings, struggles with food on my family. I’m a 29 year old woman who makes daily decisions about the relationship that I have with everything. However, this memory was sparked by Miz’s run-in with a numbskull doctor who questioned her 7 year old daughter’s weight in front of her.
The thing is, is that we never know what innocent or direct conversation we have ‘over our children’ becomes absorbed and an anchor of self-worth, self-determination, self-image.
I don’t have children, but I often think about how I want them to have a healthy relationship with themselves, food, exercise, sexuality and self-image. For me, that starts now…in how I treat myself every single day. I struggle…but I won’t give up. Because there are too many ‘little me’s’ out there who need survivors.
It starts with each one of us being mindful and gentle and observant of the language we use…because it does define when we don’t think it will.