Monday, September 12, 2011
Love in a Time of Obesity
Last week, my story left off with a “not-so-good” life-changing conversation. I knew I didn’t want to be fat. The solution seemed simple: stop over-eating and lose the extra weight.
But the problem was that I found such comfort in food. It was my happiness during one of the saddest times of my life. In order to lose weight and be “accepted” by my dad, I would have to “reject” all that glorious food that made me feel better when my insides felt so overwhelmed by sadness, emptiness, and hopelessness. I simply wasn’t prepared to reject that sort of friend, even for love of my father.
I have one memory of sitting in my fifth grade best friend’s closet with her, sharing a box of Girl Scout cookies. She was frail little thing, every feature as tiny and thin as a baby chick, divvying the Tagalongs between us, while I sat with my double-rolled belly and open-palmed hands, my eyes greedily watching her place a cookie into it: “One for you and one for me, one for you and one for me.” She stopped there, carefully sliding the plastic pack back into the box and placing it back on her closet shelf. A measly two cookies was all I got, and the truth was, I wanted to tear that entire box from her bony little fingers and devour the whole bunch in one shot. At the young age of 10, I began to recognize the difference between me and my thin friends. When it came to eating, they could stop; I couldn’t.
My close friendship with food continued on into my teenage years. In ninth grade, I wavered between a size 12 and 14, hovering around 155-160 pounds. I remember sitting in health class when I realized that I fell into the "obesity" category on the weight chart printed in my text book. The teacher continued on with her lecture while I sat in shocked despair, staring watery-eyed at the page in front of me.
Puberty descended while my weight (and acne) ascended. And with it came the desire for love, for the Cinderella story to be realized in my life. But while romance swept over the majority of my classmates, I was left standing in the stagnant air, not a hint of breeze around me. A fear crept into my heart: if I don’t lose weight, no boy will ever like me and I’ll never have my first kiss.
But the mantra of my heart continued: “If you are fat, you are unacceptable.” And what I saw in society and the media only solidified that concept. I certainly didn’t see any of the “90210” cast posing in magazines with chunky girlfriends. I wanted to live out a “Hairspray” kind of story, but it wasn’t reality. The fat girls like me were always hugging the gym walls during school dances, so what hope did I have of any boy ever wanting to be with me when I was 30 lbs. overweight with a nasty case of acne? Not exactly a winning combination. And thus I began a determined hunt for the “miracle diet” that would evaporate my extra weight, hopefully leading Prince Charming to my door.
Looking back, I feel so sorry for that girl...
When did you first discover the direness of your weight situation? What have been your motivations to lose weight in the past or even right now?