Growing up fat sucks. Growing up fat and being female might suck even more. Take it from someone who’s been there, having your worth as a human being based on how much space you take up in the world feels like getting punched in the stomach every five seconds. I was called fat for the first time when I was seven years old by a classmate that made it his priority to make me feel like I should apologize for existing. Then it became a regular occurrence by a family member who talked about me as if I wasn’t in the room but still managed to notice how big I was. Middle school and the first years of high school made it very clear that I was never going to be liked unless I lost some weight. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. And I developed an eating disorder.
It started off as a plan to get healthy. I was far too big for my height and I knew I would feel better if I lost a few pounds. So I started restricting what I ate and exercising almost everyday. The weight started to come off, slowly at first, and then more quickly as I did whatever I could to leave the fat girl behind. I began exercising multiple times a day and eating less than 1000 calories. My journals filled with calculations of how much I was allowed to eat and worries over gaining a single pound back. I was cold and sad and hid it all from my family, but most importantly, (at least at the time), I was finally thin. Sure, I had stopped getting my period and sometimes cried myself to sleep at night from the hunger pangs, but everyone was commenting on how much weight I had lost and how great I looked. I couldn’t stand the thought of disappointing them by going back to who I had been.
But I couldn’t keep it up. I was so tired and drained, but most of all I was angry. I was angry that so many people only started being nice to me after I fit a certain standard of beauty. That they thought I was worth their kindness and time only after I was no longer fat. I was angry that even though I was finally thin, I still didn’t love my body. I still felt fat. I was putting myself through unnecessary pain and for what? So people who really didn’t give a shit about me would stop being assholes to my face? I mean, what had I ever done to them to earn their cruelty in the first place? I guess I liked sweets a lot and preferred to spend my time reading rather than working out. I took up more space than the average person and couldn’t fit my arm into a size 2 pair or jeans. But I was kind and I was smart and I was funny. And what gives anybody the right to determine what another person should look like?
So I slowly started to heal. I finally got to a place where I could see how I was hurting myself and couldn’t do it anymore. But it took years. And all because someone decided to tell a child that she wasn’t worth kindness because of her size.
My struggles with my eating disorder have faded now. I was able to break my damaging habits and continue to move towards a place where I like, if not quite yet love, how I look. But so many others are still struggling and even dying because of the importance we put on being thin in our culture. Commenting on a person’s weight unless you are that person’s medical doctor is not okay. I don’t care if you want someone to be “healthier” or if you think you are giving someone tough love. Just don’t. It’s harmful. It’s cruel. And frankly, it’s none of your business.