Do you remember your first time?…I do.
And I have your attention now, don’t I?! (Don’t worry Mom…this isn’t what you think.)
No, I’m not talking about the first time you kissed someone. Not the first time you were put in time out either. Not the first time you ate the deliciousness that is duck (yes, randomly I remember the time – 1994 – and place – Garabaldi Square – that I first had that scrumptious bird). Not talking about the first time you skipped class or the first time you drove a car. Not the first time you fought with your parents, or your first break-up.
Some of you may not have had your first time yet…and that’s quite ok. In fact – I envy you for it.
Confused yet? Well…I’ll explain.
Do you remember the first time you were made aware that you were different from everyone else? More specifically, if you’ve ever had a struggle with your weight, the very first time that you were made painfully aware that you are fat…that you didn’t look like the popular girls…the moment that started the awful cycle of self-consciousness that you would spend the majority of your life trying to break away from.
I remember the exact moment.
I wasn’t a large child…as far as elementary school is concerned, I don’t recall being overweight. I guess I could let you be the judge…
Yay! This post has visual aids!
I was active when I was younger…gymnastics, chasing my younger sister around, spending every minute of my summer vacation running up and down the beach…I definitely was of average stature. And then came 7th grade…not only are you at your most awkward and unfortunate stage of life in 7th grade…but the Jr. High “caste” system starts to rear its ugly head. I was nerdy and in the band…not only that, but I had the most ungodly buck teeth east of the Mississippi…so, I already had a few strikes against me. I wasn’t bullied….and I don’t even know that anyone (to my face anyway) made fun of my weight or noticed that I was rocking the XL Duck Head shorts with the thick cuff vs. the small ones. But I remember THE moment…the moment when I became uncomfortable with my size.
It was 1994…McClintock Jr. High School in Charlotte…I was in Mrs. Baldwin’s science class…I’ve got no earthly idea what we were talking about, or why it was even important…but whatever the discussion was, our weight was somehow important. We went around the room…everyone saying their weight out loud. I was close to the end…everyone had said their number: 92, 89, 95, etc…and then it was my turn. I don’t even remember what my number was…all I remember is that my weight had 3 digits…and everyone else’s was 2. For all I know, it could have been 100 with the person before me weighing 99 pounds…but it didn’t matter. My weight was 3 digits…I was too young for 3 digits…I was such an outsider…what other 7th grader has a 3-digit weight?
From that very moment forward, every time I looked in the mirror, my very first thought was that I was repulsive and abnormal. I had labeled myself as the fat girl. And that same negative, internal dialogue has continued for 17 years since that day in Mrs. Baldwin’s class. I had convinced myself that when I walk in a room that people couldn’t possibly be talking about anything other than the size of my ass or the wiggle in my arms. I hated (and to a degree still hate) what I allowed myself to become. I felt like I disappointed my parents because they had a fat daughter. All of this because of triple digits…
Embarrassment over 3 stupid numbers has done life-long damage that I am desperate to undo. Not only is this a journey to change my physical appearance…but it’s a trek to finally learning to love myself. As my own worst critic…I don’t know what part is harder.
And as far as the ‘3 digits’ is concerned…I know I’m a member of that club forever (not a huge fan of the 92-pound skeleton look)…but I refuse to be a member of the 200 club for much longer. Down another 2.6 this week…15 pounds total. Seems like such slow motion. I feel like I’ve been blabbing to you for months on end!
There have been moments of weakness…moments that I don’t feel like I am getting anywhere. YOU have kept me going…Your encouragement, your openness about similar struggles…Your notion that I am inspiring you is the biggest complement I have ever received.
I am doing all of this for me…but I am enjoying every step of this voyage with you. I can never thank you enough for cheering me along. Love to you all. ~ HH
“It’s not your job to like me – it’s mine.” – Byron Katie