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Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Weight Issues and High School... Sigh.

I spent a chunk of this evening watching a TV movie, which is extremely rare for me. Normally I watch certain reruns of old sitcoms with Brian, and that is about it. Well, this movie really struck a chord with me. You see, I was the "fat" girl in high school (elementary school and junior high too). The incredibly sad part of it is that I wasn't nearly as big as I am now (more on that later), and I doubt that I would have been that big in high school if I hadn't listened to my classmates when I was a small child. It is sad how if you hear something long enough about yourself, you tend to start to believe it, no matter how strong you are. Some may disagree with that statement, but I stand by it. How it is possible to hear someone say something about you day after day and not begin to believe it, especially when you are a small child (five to ten)?

Before I go any further, i want to provide a little bit of background. When I entered kindergarten in 1986, my biggest concerns were spending time with my Dad (I loved going to watch him play basketball and men's softball), learning (I loved being read to by my Mom, and by all accounts, I loved my two years of preschool), and playing with my little sister (who would have been two at the time). I don't remember ever thinking about my appearance or popularity. Quite frankly, I spent much more time with adults as a small child than I did with other kids. My family lived out in the country; my sister was my primary playmate and friend. Most of my interaction with other kids outside of school took place in very structured settings such as sporting events, summers spent with my parents and grandparents at the canoe livery (my parents' business), or family gatherings (I adored my older cousins). It is safe to say that I wasn't prepared to be compared to others on the basis of my physical characteristics.

I don't really remember if I was picked on about my height and weight during kindergarten, but I do remember being teased from first grade on. My teacher, Mrs. Balton, told me "good things come in small packages" (I clearly remember her telling me that as I was about to leave for Easter vacation, a trip to Walt Disney World). It is a very nice thing to say to a small first grader, but it isn't exactly ammunition against certain kids who insisted that my entire physical being was just wrong.

As I grew older, the issues grew. I was constantly being teased about my height and weight on a daily basis. I'm tempted to write some of what kids said to me here as I still remember them nearly twenty years later, but that would just give them legitimacy. Things became so ugly that I changed elementary schools. It wasn't the only factor in changing schools, but it was one. Of course, it didn't resolve the issue. In some ways, as the rest of the class approached puberty (remember, I have Turner Syndrome, so my "puberty" was carefully planned out by doctors without any input from me), things became worse. The height difference grew and I gained weight as I began to believe what those kids were telling me.

Well, as so often happens, I began to find my niche during the later half of high school. By then, I was content to focus on academics and bide my time until college (and yes Mr. M, it was well worth the wait). My weight stabilized and I even began to exercise regularly for lengths of time thanks to a very understanding gym teacher (he was a great guy, and it is too bad that there aren't more like him). Again, I was biding my time. One of the few incidents of all out hatred towards me came one day as I was walking out of the women's locker room, heading to another class. For whatever reason, this girl (I don't even remember who she was) shoved me head long into a cement wall. My head was about an inch from hitting the cement wall. Well, karma is a b*tch. This occurred all outside the office of the female physical education teacher's office. Guess who happened to be right in her office? Well, the girl who shoved me from behind, unprovoked, ended up getting hauled off to the office.

As painful as some of those memories were, I truly felt as though I left it all behind when I went to college, and in many respects, I did. My senior year I lost quite a bit of weight and actually came within 15 to 20 lbs. of actually being my "ideal" weight. Well, due to career issues, moving, and financial issues, I gained it all back and then some over these last four years. I'm not talking about merely gaining an additional 20 lbs. on top of what I weighed back in high school. No. I'm talking about gaining 80 lbs. or more in those four years after college (for those who know me and haven't seen me in a while, it doesn't look as though I gained 80 lbs., but it is certainly noticeable).

I'm now much larger than I've ever been in my entire life. It is a lack of exercise and poor food choices. Intellectually, I know all of that. Emotionally, food is a comfort to me. It is sick, I know. I know that I need to do something about it, but right now, I find it difficult to care very much. You see, I'm in the midst of dealing with feelings of rejection all over again now that I'm out of college. I've been unemployed for over two years (I briefly worked for a cemetery last year), and it brings up the feelings of rejection all over again.

I keep wondering exactly what is wrong with me and why good job opportunities keep slipping through my fingers, but I keep placing that blame on myself. A lot of the career issues are related to the fact that I want to live in Mid-Michigan and the fact that my background in supply chain management and Spanish isn't in demand right now here. Professional manufacturing is losing so much ground here, it is truly tragic. Yet, I place all of the blame on myself. I'd love to move, but that would mean that I'd lose the wonderful relationship I have with my fiance, whose career here is going well. I know that my background is demand elsewhere, but I've already left Brian for a job once. I simply can't do it again. I want a life with him, here in Bay City. In fact, I'm close to achieving my childhood dream of settling here in Bay City. I just need a job.

Unfortunately, all of this - the job, the weight situation - has strained my relationships with my family somewhat. My Mom, my Dad, and my Grandma Reid (with whom I'm very close) are all extremely concerned about my weight. My parents didn't say much, at first, but other things have occurred recently that really hit home as to how they really feel. My Grandma Reid (again, remember that I love her dearly and that we're close) has brought it up nearly every time I've met with her since I returned from Texas during the summer of 2005. It got to the point where I had to tell her how it made me feel. She honestly thought that bringing it to my attention would help me.

This is where I get angry. Believe it or not, there may be people out there who actually think that discussing a weight issue will help the person who has it deal with it. As well meaning as my Grandma was, it deeply hurt me. I can certainly see the issue for myself, and the last thing I need is a reminder of it. I made the point with her, and she's been great about it since. That said, I don't think that people who have never struggled with their weight could ever understand the stigma that weight has in this society. It closes all kinds of doors, and it is still acceptable to discriminate on the basis of weight and height. That, in a nutshell, was the entire point of the movie. The movie made it very well. I wanted to share my experiences not to point out how cruel kids can be (that's be demonstrated time and time again), but to ensure people that everyone has their issues. There are several stories I could have included here regarding how I was treated by classmates. I didn't though. They were going through their own issues.

There is always someone who has it worse than you. Everyone has some mountain to climb. Our world would be a much better place if we all remembered that.

Queen Sized | myLifetime.com


PS - The picture included in my profile is my first grade school picture.

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