The worst memory of being a fat kid was those NHS Health checks you had to do as a kid before starting secondary school. You would all line up and go into a room one by one. There would be a middle aged nurse who smelled of talcum powder and fresh sweets ready to lull you in to a false sense of security. ‘Just stand on the scales dear,’ she would say, followed by the look in her eye as she read the numbers and quickly jotted them down before politely asking you to stand against the height chart. I never thought anything of it at the time but when the letter came through a few weeks later I was devastated.
Overweight. That was the verdict. It was followed by passive aggressive instructions for my mother. I don’t think I had ever seen her so angry. I grew up in a household where crisps where banned and we were given a pound every Saturday to go over the road and by a few sweets from the pick and mix section. My mum felt like she was being accused of something she didn’t do and I felt as if a massive great big stamp had been punched across my forehead. That label I was given that day has definitely stuck with me for life.
As I grew older I lost a lot of the weight. I have never been a thin girl but my puppy fat grew into a woman’s body with curves in all the right places. People would comment and say, ‘oh you look good!’ and relatives would say, ‘you have lost so much weight dear well done!’ To be honest, I had done nothing apart from grow but I was told that my worth had gone up because of my loss.
I don’t blame them as they don’t know any better. They were just saying society’s expected responses at the appropriate moments. Even I do the same without really thinking about the consequences despite them having their very own impact on me. We all do it.
The thing is, a little part of that fat kid never truly leaves you. Some days you have bad days and you look in the mirror and see the pudgy, chubby little girl. When people comment on you, you see every tiny imperfection on the flawed skin that stretches grotesquely across the rolls of invisible fat in your mind. That mind set is so hard to break.
But why are we so ashamed yet proud of being a former fat kid? Ashamed as it highlights our own issues of self-worth but proud to share as it somehow validates you in the eyes of others in the hope it might validate you to yourself. You need to stop distinguishing from that fat kid and that fat you. You need to be proud of you and proud of the wonders of your body no matter the size, colour or imperfections. Scars stick with you for life. But at least let them make you stronger.
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