Me at 4 years old -- already a little "chubby."
I was awkward as a kid. I was clumsy and shy. I had buck teeth, which later led to braces. I had an odd sort of mullet hair cut, which later led to the frizzy poof that was so trendy in the late 80s/early 90s. I had all of this and was fat too.
1st or 2nd grade. Diggin the hair... Fifth grade
Junior High Junior high.
In elementary school, I never really experienced bullying. I went to a small, parochial school, so I was with the same group of kids (give or take a few) from 1st until 8th grade. We basically grew up with one another, so that kind of thing just didn't happen. I was also the "nice one," which sort of shielded me from mean comments. Because I had grown up with this group of classmates, they did not say hurtful things because they knew very well how nice I had been to all of them all those years.
High school was not great. I was insecure about my weight and wished that I could be thin. The problem is that I did nothing to alter my lifestyle. Hoping and wishing was as far as it went. I went to two different high schools because my family moved at the beginning of my sophomore year. Mean comments mostly happened at the first high school that I went to in Indianapolis. We had a strict dress code, so we pretty much had to dress up every day. I wasn't wearing the latest teenage trends, because I could not fit into them. Mean girls made some horrible comments about my clothes. I would often go home and cry in my room...and then comfort myself with a hostess snack cake.
Even though those people were cruel, I wanted to fit in so badly. I was grasping at anything to make me look the part in a sense. I remember that a local sporting goods store was selling these beautiful embroidered sweatshirts with the school name on it. All of the girls were wearing them, and I really wanted one. I will never forget the Friday night that my dad went and bought me one. I was so excited! I wore it to school for spirit day the next week and my joy was quickly ripped away. The girl who made my life miserable pointed at me and said, "Look at her, trying to be like us! Isn't that cute? I am surprised they even made one in her size!" I felt like I had been punched in the gut with an iron fist. Devastated, I went home and cried in my room again, feeling guilty that dad had bought me the shirt,when he could have used his money for something else. I remember wishing that I could leave that awful school. About a year later, I would get my wish...
My family and I moved to Richmond, Indiana. I went from a small, parochial high school to a huge public school. Even though I was scared of the new, giant size, it was actually a blessing. I could more easily fade into the background here...just be another face in the really large crowd. I made a few really good friends and that was that. I don't remember getting bullied there. I mean, there were a few occasional fat jokes made by a couple moron boys, but that was it. I was my own worst enemy at this point in my life. No one was giving me a real hard time, but I hated the way I looked. I wanted to be one of the "cool kids." I wanted to be asked to prom. I wanted to have a boyfriend. That just didn't happen for me. You know the funny thing? I look at pictures of myself from high school and there was nothing wrong with me! Sure, I was a little overweight, but it wasn't an appalling amount. I so wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self to ease up a bit and stop being so hard on herself.
Senior Year. Sorry for blurriness. Junior Year
As I moved on to college and into adulthood, I really did nothing to make myself healthier. I lost weight in college because of all the walking on campus. No crazy drop in weight though. I dated a little, but nothing serious. It wasn't until I was near graduation that I met Tim. I really almost screwed that up because I couldn't believe that he actually found someone who looked like me attractive. I couldn't get it through my thick skull, but little by little, I started to believe him.
Now, I am 34 years old and still struggling. I am just tired of the struggle. It is time to stop playing these stupid games with myself. I am ready in a way that I have not been ready before. Ready in a way that I was not ready when I joined and rejoined Weight Watchers ten thousand times. Ready in a way I was not ready when I attempted the various fad diets out there. The time is now and I want this so badly.
I know that I have mentioned her a couple times already, but my late grandmother was a huge part of my life and I have missed her deeply since her passing a few years back. When I was sad and she saw it, she would walk up to me, pat me on the leg, and say, "Chin up, sweetheart." It always seemed to make me feel better.
Well, I wrote a poem awhile back for one of my students with that very title. I work with teenagers on a daily basis. For some reason, even though I hated high school, I have placed myself there professionally. It is because I want to help kids. I see so many girls who have the same or worse struggles than I had. One in particular writes poetry. She wanted me to read her poems and they were all filled with self-loathing. I decided that the next time she opened that tattered little composition book, I wanted her to read something positive about herself. When she left her poems with me, I found a blank page and wrote a poem for her to find. I am not a poet, but I felt compelled to find a way to reach her. So, I am going to close with the poem I left for her that day.