Become a Fan
By Alex M Bennett
Monday, September 24, 2007
Rated "PG" by the Author.
...There’s more of me to love...
The first time I had that "different planet" feeling was at my first pool party. I didn’t know how to swim so that was my excuse; in actuality I didn’t want to be around a bunch of thin people. But my best friend practically begged me on her hands and knees to go.
“Oh come on Alex, you don’t have to wear just a bathing suit. You could wear a long t-shirt over it.”
And so I went.
My friend, Morgan, was smaller than me of course so she didn’t realize how heart sinking it was to walk into a backyard full of people I didn’t know. All who were skinny and dressed in stylish swimsuits, and here on my home planet I felt apologetic and embarrassed about my body–especially in a swimsuit– and that was a nice way of putting it.
Here were a dozen or so petite people who were enjoying being in their bodies without a shred of self-consciousness. They were having so much fun it was infectious. I felt light-headed and giddy. I kept noticing how great everyone looked, and how fat I looked. They were confident and radiant and happy–and fit in to sizes that I could only dream.
This was definitely not my planet.
Of course no one was rude to me and screamed out “Hey what’s Ms. Piggy doing here?” They were polite and tried to make me feel welcome. But they didn’t have to scream those words out, I could see it written all over their faces whether they knew it or not.
A vast number of teachers in my middle school believed it was possible to be happy with your body, even if it happens to be fat. However my peers saw it a different way. They saw me in the practical way. They saw me as the little girl, too weak to defend herself, only wanting to fit in, and the worst thing in the world…vulnerable. They fed like vultures on that vulnerability tugging at my self-esteem (or what was left of it anyway) and scarring me more than I had been at elementary school.
At least there they didn’t laugh in your face when you cried, and when you looked at them through tear glossed eyes you didn’t see a sick satisfaction in their smiles.
I hated crying in front of them, letting them know how much they hurt me. I wanted them to think I was strong and that nothing could get to me. But I wasn’t strong and every word they said got to me.
The damaging part was that I believed everything they said. And some part in the back of my mind turned against me and attacked me constantly. I would hear their words screaming in my head when I looked in the mirror but in my voice.
You’re the ugliest girl in the school. You’re too fat. Everyone hates you. You’re disgusting. I hate you.
So I stopped looking in the mirror altogether.
Of course this didn’t really help which caused problems. After years and years of dieting with no success I began to give up, until I met Trish. She had gone to a different middle school than me up until the 6th grade and she too was overweight. We weren’t that close until we were placed in the same Gym class, and when we both began to get picked last for teams we got even closer. We laughed and talked about failed diets and shared how much we hated the kids in our school. Everything was okay, better than it had been, then there was summer vacation and I was left alone to defend myself while she went to visit family in Florida.
The year of 8th grade, I believe, was my worst. Trish returned except she returned about 30-45 pounds lighter, which left me as the fat girl. Of course I wanted to know how she had done it so she told me, “I just don’t eat.”
And there it was.
Like the messiah being born in Bethlehem I had found the answer to all my problems.
So I guess you can say Trish and I had started a routine, we’d skip breakfast and lunch (and sometimes dinner) and eat a very, very small meal. At first I didn’t think I could make it, I mean I don’t think I had ever gone without a meal in my life. But Trish my “friend” reassured me.
“Just think how great you’ll feel when you start high school 40 pounds lighter.” And that did it. I began to get accustomed to the empty feeling in my stomach, even a little satisfied and in the first 5 days I had lost 10 pounds. I almost DIED!! ( with happiness)
5 pound later I began to notice that Trish was taking our seemingly harmless routine too much to heart. She began going days without eating and that worried me. I told her she could stop now and eat, “I mean look at you, you’re practically wasting away.” Her response would always be, “Are you kidding, I’m freakin’ huge”
I no longer liked the routine and by graduation day Trish and I had drifted entirely apart.
After years of fighting myself, bullies, and hunger, after years of being ashamed, hating my body, and trying to manipulate it into being something it’s not, after spending mountains of time and energy trying to conform to someone else’s ideal, it isn’t surprising that I began to question whether this is the best way to for me to live.
I began high school not so small but finally accepting the fact that I was fat. I was also accepting the fact after my first boyfriend/girlfriend during the end of 8th grade and summer that I was in fact beautiful, I just had to find people who weren’t afraid of a little (okay maybe a lot) of chunk.. The kids in my past have scarred me. I still don’t look in the mirror and there is still that traitor in the back of my mind that constantly screams my insecurities…
You stupid hippo. Get away from me heifer. Shut up you ugly cow.
...But I’ve learned to not listen and counteract every insult with something positive from my friends. I’m not giving up, and I’m not letting myself go. Rather I’m forging a new relationship with my body, one that doesn’t involve self-loathing, one that appreciates the miraculous body I have, one that brings joy. There’s plenty of room on this new planet, and here you needn’t apologize for your size. You’re entitled to the space you take up. You can find clothes that show off the gorgeous person you are, you can play and dance without self-consciousness, you can be proud of yourself and never dread unwanted attention, you can be a brave pioneer and a friend to those who have suffered on planets less kind and less joyous than this one.
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|Reviewed by bianca williams
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