Tuesday, September 17, 2013
People are Cruel Regardless of Size When You Do Not Meet Their Expectations.
Everyone has a why. A reason they are who they are. Why they dislike someone or something. Why they yell, or cry, or shy away. Why some are loud, outgoing, and confident. Understanding the reasons behind a person actions and behaviors makes them not seem so bad, we see a human. We may even find compassion and understanding for them, instead of intolerance and frustration. I present my story of why. I am a product of my experiences, as we all are. Let us embrace empathy for each other before we assume and place judgement.
When I reached the age that I was aware of others and our differences, I was the heaviest kid in the third grade and the seed of self hate was planted. I do not remember a time when I looked in the mirror and loved what I saw. I grew up comparing myself to others around me, models, and actresses. I did not think I was as worthy to life as the beautiful people. I did not think I was a beautiful person. When I was young, my grandmother told me my baby fat would go away as I got older. When it stuck around and brought some friends I felt like I had failed. Why had the other girls slimmed down and I had only gotten bigger? In that moment, I labeled myself different. My body was not like the other girls in my class and that made me believe my body was wrong.
I learned to hide how I felt about my body in 6th grade after I had a bully physically abuse me on more than one occasion. I would never show physical weakness again and I learned to carry myself with aggression. If I appeared scary, no one would hurt me. Inside I felt trapped behind a mask; I was not an aggressive person... I was a scared girl desperately seeking confirmation for my existence. But I refused to let the aggressors be stronger than me. I believed I was worth being loved and I would make it to the moment when I would find that love.
I developed a distrust of people in 6th grade as well when the entire school, including people I called my friends, conspired against me. I attended a small country school - the total student population from kindergarten through 6th grade was maybe 50 kids. During volleyball practice after school I was informed that the boy I had a crush on and the popular girl where now a couple. People waited for my reaction. I held it together, made it through practice, and saved my tears for the privacy of my bedroom. It was after dinner when a friend called to tell me the truth, that it was a lie, everyone was in on it, and they just wanted to see what I would do. This moment caused me to have difficulty trusting people. I never let them see me cry. I learned to hold in my emotions.
I carried my tough exterior with me through high school. I survived name calling, pushing, people trying to fight me, and my own dietary abuse. This picture creates an image of a large unhappy girl. Inn retrospect, I was only one of those. I was unhappy. I was not large, though I was not a size zero. I happen to have a woman's figure amongst a sea of junior figures and I stood out. Standing out in high school puts a target on a persons back and my target felt huge.
I heard fat shaming comments for years. "Are you sure you want to eat that?" "What size do you want to be?" Funny thing is the size that seemed too big for me at 16 is the size I am now at 31! I'm not unhealthy now and I wasn't at an unhealthy weight then either. It was the expected appearance for a teenager that I did not have, therefore my figure was wrong and I was fat. How many girls are tortured because they do not look like the socially expected 16 year old? I kept my head down, shoulders slummed, and made little eye contact. I did my best to be invisible.
I did have moments when I was able to forget my physical appearance and enjoy a social life in high school. I was Drama Club President and in every theater production. Acting made it easy to forget my size. I could be anyone. My first major role was the seductive villain in a 1920's inspired play entitled "Peril on the High Seas". I loved my character and my cast-mates. I embraced the seductive nature of my character until opening night. I will never forget the scene in which my character is seducing the male lead. I had on a 1920's all black glamours costume. I wore a long faux fur coat over my floor length dress. In the moment, in character I removed my coat, a move that was intended to be sexy. I should have won the Academy Award for not bursting into tears and running off stage when I heard boo's and, "Put it back on!" being shouted from the audience. I finished the performance and accepted a very heart felt apology from one of the other actors in the play. His friends where the shouters and he felt horrible. We preformed the play four more times and I didn't take my jacket off again during the production. I know now, looking back, that high school boys are dumb and insensitive but even rationalizing the behavior does not take away the scar.
It just became easier for me to push people away and wallflower myself as I got older. No one was going to hurt me if they couldn't get near me. I had great friends that stuck by me but I never made too many new friends after high school. I was scared of people. I had allowed myself to be abused by a boyfriend for a couple of years because it was better than being alone. Just being able to say the words "I have a boyfriend" made me feel whole and less invisible. Of course I told no one of the abuse and hid it well. After years of put downs, physical abuse by bullies, and constant reminders that I was not socially acceptable, an abusive boyfriend did not seem wrong. Somehow I deserved what I got because I was not pretty. I believed fat girls should be thankful for what they can get.
Am I shy? Yes. Am I slow to trust people? Very much so. Have I ever seemed awkward at times? Is it understandable as to why I am that way? I hope so. Now the ultimate question; why am I sharing this? I have chosen to expose my most vulnerable side in an attempt to help people understand that we ALL are products of our environment and experiences. As a society, if we could slow down and listen to each others stories we would learn a great deal about life, the strength of the human spirit, and the unbelievable power our words and actions have on each other. My past has given me purpose. My purpose is to help people embrace who they are, what their bodies look like, and help them love themselves. Self esteem is not a pill one can take, it is learned.
To anyone the may have social anxiety, know that you are not alone and that you have an incredible amount of strength inside of you. The feeling of judgment can tear a person apart. It can make it difficult to move beyond the scars. The fat third grader, the bullied 6th grader, the humiliated 16 year old, the abused 20 year old, and the 300 pound 25 year old will ALWAYS be apart of me. These are the chapters to my story and once the story is told, suddenly I make a lot more sense to people who just did not "get" me. I am writing new chapters to my life now and I am over coming my anxieties because my mind is getting healthy as well. The world may not see a fat girl but I have been looking at the world through fat girl eyes my entire life. It takes time to heal and trust.
I do not know your story. You do not have to share with me. I do, however, promise to not judge and allow you the freedom to write your story because every one of us is different. We all have a story as to why we are the way we are. Judgment will not change that - it will only put up walls and take away valuable lessons and meaningful relationship with one and another.