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Looking Back: “Chubby Childhood (?)”

Posted Sep 22 2008 10:35am

Pictures of me through the years, put together by one of my BFFs on a memory board at my bridal shower

Pictures of me through the years, put together by one of my BFFs on a fab memory board at my scrapbooking bridal shower

I think I was really lucky.

For as “chunky” as I think I was as a kid, no one ever (to my face) taunted me or teased me about my weight.

I never heard nasty animal sounds as I walked by, and no one ever called me “Fatty” or sang any offensive songs to me on the school bus.

I wasn’t thin growing up, but I was always active and involved. And though I always knew I wasn’t as small as some of my friends, I wasn’t a “fat” kid either.

I didn’t really struggle with “acceptance.”

And If I do say so myself, I was pretty well-liked.

Pre-puberty I wore stuff from the Pretty Plus Juniors section at Sears for a while, but I didn’t have to shop in “big-girl” stores, so I never missed out on a trend: Guess jeans, Hypercolor shirts, MC Hammer pants, etc.

I always had lots of friends (girls and boys) to sit with at lunch, and I never felt funny ordering a bagel and fries for lunch in high school. (The thought now, however, makes me want to gag!)

And though I didn’t have a boyfriend til I was sixteen, I had plenty of flirting experience with my male friends who I could be totally myself with … and not worry that they’d think anything otherwise.

I didn’t really have the complex that other overweight kids in the cafeteria, on the playground, or on the bus had.

Though perhaps at times I felt like I was the chubby/chunky one … in reality, I really wasn’t. And so I feel like by being just a little bit chubby, I was spared the humiliation and shame many young girls and teen women suffer through.

But not everyone is so fortunate.

Weetabix at Elastic Waist recently shared some of her difficult childhood experiences on her blog. The fact that other people (kids and adults) can be so cruel and heartless just makes me want to cry.

And she is not alone. I am sure many others have endured through agonizing childhoods and even into adulthood.

For however stupid it is to say it, being “fat” just isn’t acceptable here in the U.S., even though two-thirds of Americans are considered overweight or obese … and in spite of adult obesity rates raising in 37 states.

Kids tease and taunt; grown-ups make snide comments and snicker at one another. It’s something so unacceptable … yet so accepted.

And for those of us struggling with body image issues or disordered eating, how is this environment supposed to help us grow, change? It doesn’t. All this toxic environment does is harm us.

I never made fun of anyone for their weight, looks, anything. Who would I have been to talk? Plus, I wasn’t raised that way; I was taught tolerance, to be kind to others.

But did I ever step in and tell the class bully to leave XYZ alone?
Um… no.

Did I ever ask the popular jock why he thought it was ok to kick the ball extra hard at the chubby, unathletic boy in gym class?
Shaking my head “no” to that one, too.

Did I share a laugh with everyone else when someone was being teased on the 4th grade playground?
I don’t know … but I can’t say with 100% certainty that I didn’t …

Kids are mean. Cruel. They’ll say anything to be popular, for acceptance.

I’ve changed a lot since the days of middle school … I see things and hear things now and cringe. I was never the one rallying the troops or starting anything (way too shy for that back then), but I surely wasn’t winning any awards for the true definition of integrity: doing the right thing when no one else is watching.

I might have been “lucky” I wasn’t the one being made fun of back then … but I definitely wasn’t helping to improve the situation.

The truth is, those behaviors are downright hideous, and they don’t always fade with time. In fact, we sometimes see traces of those mean-streaks in adults — in the workplace, on the subway, in dressing rooms.

I hope my children will learn tolerance like my parents taught me … but also that they’ll have the confidence/ cojones to stand up for those who perhaps don’t have a resonating voice of their own. I didn’t take it to that next level then, but there’s always the future.

Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity. Regardless of body size or weight, we all deserve it.

How about you? Were you every teased about your weight? How has that impacted you today?

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