Teasing and tormenting was a huge part of my life growing up.
My family moved to Nothern Utah when I was just 6, and so I attended school first grade through 12th out here. I was never considered a “popular” girl, didn’t have any outspoken talents (I didn’t dare attract more attention to myself), I didn’t play on sports teams, and I really didn’t have too many close friends. I always felt out of place. My brothers, both high school athletes (soccer, football, and golf) were well-liked in their schools, had many friends, and both even went out for student body officers. I didn’t dare.
My weight issue began, noticeably, during the summer of 3rd grade when my Dad was fired from his construction job and began spending 24/7 (and all of our savings account) towards his new business in Salt Lake City. We didn’t have money for fresh produce, but even more than that, my parents didn’t teach us about proper portion sizes. It was always about “cleaning your plate” and “always save room for dessert.” That too-full-that-I’m-going-to-explode feeling was a regular in my house. I could almost say I was scared of feeling hungry, of feeling empty. Because of this new unhealthy relationship with food, my size began to grow larger and larger. I was suddenly one of the only “larger” girls in my class- always. In PE, I was always picked last for kickball teams. My dating life (up until senior year of high school) was near nonexistant. Many people would say crude things to me about my appearance and about my weight- I always felt like I needed to be “fixed,” like I wasn’t good enough the way I was. The more negative feedback I’d get from my peers, the more I’d turn to food, the bigger I’d get… and so on. It was a very vicious cycle.
High school came and went and all of my classmates and I went on our separate ways. Most are still living at home with their parents, between college semesters and holding down a minimum-wage job. I run into a few of them a couple times a week when I’m running to get some groceries or picking up the dry cleaning. At first, there was a very awkward moment where we’d look each other up and down, confirm it was the person we were thinking and feign some friendly banter. Sometimes, it goes into a small-talk conversation of what-do-you-do-now’s and are-you-married’s, but most of the time, I smile and nod a “hello” and am off on my way.
The big change has been living as the thin and fit girl now, as the majority of my Senior class have all gained about 30 pounds (or more). Their rude remarks from the past (“he’ll NEVER want to date someone as fat as you” and so on) come back to me and I feel this strange sense of validation. I grew up and severely changed my life… and so did they. But not for the better. It’d be lying if I didn’t sometimes feel happy in spite of everything. Fifteen years of belittlement and just-plain-bitchy behavior doesn’t happen without karma eventually, right?
At first, I was marveling at the fact that living my healthy lifestyle and setting and reaching goals myself meant that I was getting the best form of revenge. I didn’t have to say anything horrible to these people; I simply got “back at them” by doing the things I’m doing and being who I am (and who I always wanted to be). It’s been funny, ironic, and amazing to watch some of these people come out of the woodwork after finding out how I’ve reshaped my life, asking for my help to “get back in shape” and “lose this damn muffin top.” Half… okay, most… of the time, I’d love to just laugh and say “sorry, no.” But I do what I can, and I spend some time each week helping a few of these peers out. But I refuse to be walked on again, so if and when they backstab me or take my advice and help for granted, I have no problem removing them from my life. I don’t need that negativity in my life again.
We have another class reunion coming up soon and you better believe I’ll be there. I’m counting on not many of them showing up, but you better believe I’ll have my business cards ready.