“Lose some weight, Bitch!” Those are the words that I heard coming from a passing vehicle when I was 16 years old, leaving the mall after a fun afternoon with a friend.
“Lose some weight, Bitch.”
In general, teenagers are obsessed with their appearance, sure that anyone they meet notices only the part about them they most dislike. The chink in my armor was the size of my body. At the time I was chubby, not fat, yet my plumpness seemed to be a monstrous problem for everyone in my life, and it was made clear that I needed urgent and immediate repair.
In other words, the person who doused me with fat shaming from the car that day hit me right where it hurt.
Not only did the words sting, but I was entirely humiliated. The worst part was realizing that the hateful directive came from a vehicle belonging to one of my oldest friends. With his personalized license plate verifying any nagging doubt, his SUV was packed with several of the popular boys in my high school class. No one ever claimed the attack, but knowing who was responsible wouldn’t have eased the pain I felt.
Fast-forward to today, 26 years later. The same friend who was driving the car just sent a Facebook Friend Request to my Feisty Fox account, the one where I really let my Fat Flag soar.
I should mention, this isn’t an episode of Jerry Springer where I’ve been suddenly blindsided by an unexpected reunion with my childhood bully. No, no, no. We’ve always stayed in touch. He hurt me, but I still love him. We are friends, we care about each other, we share mutual friends and family, we live just a few blocks from one another, we raise our children together and we participate in and are invited to many of the same events and activities. I’ve never given a second thought to being friends with him on my personal account. But Feisty Fox is where I embrace the fact that those vicious boys were onto something I hadn’t yet discovered, admitted or accepted;
I AM a “Fat Bitch!”
Still, I hesitate to allow someone who hurt me so terribly in the past; using the size of my body as his weapon; the opportunity to see the real me. My words and thoughts are windows into my soul, and I’m not sure if he deserves to look in.
As an adult, I’ve asked him about the incident, but his explanation (“All I know is it wasn’t me. I don’t know who actually yelled it, but whoever it was did it before I knew what was happening or could stop him.”) did little to heal me. Thankfully, being a mom and working in the Body Acceptance Movement has. I know how cruel those little shits were and that in no way did I deserve to be abused in such a way.
For a long time, however, the bruises they inflicted wouldn’t go away, likely in part because I didn’t talk to anyone about what happened. The shame I felt made me want to sweep it right under a rug because, truly, I was afraid whoever I told would say, “What they did to you wasn’t right, but while we’re on the subject, have you considered Weight Watchers?” (Diets Don’t Work!)
No one was able to hold me back then, because they didn’t know I needed to be held. Now it is my responsibility to hug the girl who was wounded by her peers that day, and on so many others, just because her body didn’t satisfy those around her. It is my responsibility to remind her that she has always been, and always will be, worthy of respect and love.
When I do this, the little girl settles in, and now, together, we can continue to travel the path toward healing.
*This blog post is the opinion of a particular Fattitude intern – and does not necessarily reflect the position of Fattitude, Inc.