I wasn’t always overweight – I arrived into this world at an average 7 pounds, 4 ounces or something like that. Through out my childhood I sported plump, apple cheeks, but didn’t tilt the scales until about the age of 10, around when my family moved to California. I remember wearing the girl’s size XL, and an unpleasant discussion at the doctor’s office about being overweight. “She needs to exercise,” the doctor had said, noting my ever-climbing weight. My mom replied, no doubt in protection, “She doesn’t love sports, but she does love to read.” I’ll never forget the doctor’s reply – “Reading is great exercise for the brain – but not the body!”
As puberty crept up on me, my weight blossomed even more, morphing into fleshy hips and a soft, pudgy tummy. I was outgrowing the junior’s size 12s, having to squeeze my curvy waist into cheap L.E.I. jeans in women’s size 13s from Mervyns. My first devastating insult about my weight came from a boy I had a huge crush on, Patrick. We were friends and classmates and walked home from school together, crunching leaves and sucking the sap out of honeysuckles. He called me “Hey Arnold” after the cartoon, because we both had blonde hair. He was really tall and gangly, with small, narrow eyes and a deep, nerdy voice. In gym class one day we had to run a mile. As a fumbling klutz, running was something I despised, a special torture for a chubby girl with a propensity for words. I can even remember my outfit that day -a purple Guess shirt and white cotton shorts. As we lapped the dirt track together, he taunted me that he would win. Adrenaline and ambition kicked in, and by some miracle, I propelled myself past him through the finish line, the victorious winner by a few seconds. As I applauded my own girls-against -boy victory, he hit me where he knew it would hurt – my emotions.
“Well – at least I’m not FAT!” he spat out, the friendly look in his eye replaced with macho venom.
Had I been the spunky girl I would have liked to imagine myself as, I would have replied, “Well – at least I’m not an ASSHOLE!” but instead, I slunk off like a guilty dog, reminded that once again, it didn’t matter what girls accomplished, but rather, what they looked like. I never wore those white shorts to school again. (He’s dead now, how’s that for Karma? I kid, I kid. Sadly, he is deceased of a drug overdose, which is a shame because despite this little sting, he was a nice, intelligent kid)
It’s so easy to remember the insults and the bad things that happen to you, even when you hear a lot of praise otherwise. I’d like to say comments like these didn’t affect me, but I guess they did if I’m blogging about them 14 years later – but hey, it fueled a blog post, so I guess that’s something.
Do you remember insults about your looks from days past? One of the worst I’ve ever heard is a guy who called my sister “Princess Fat Arms”. WTF! People can be so cruel.