Hungry Girl Part 2

Read Part 1 here.

Growing up, I was the girl with the "weight problem."  From a young age, my appearance became a focal point.  I was taller than most girls my age, definitely thicker around the middle, and I developed fairly early.  It didn't take long for my weight to become something by which I measured my value and self worth.  I remember being as young as four years old, and having elderly church women try and pinch my chubby cheeks... poking me, prodding me, and affectionately deeming me... fat.  They weren't cruel, and seemed to mean well, but deep inside I felt shame and embarrassment.  I didn't want that sort of attention.

As much as I wanted to hide, I just couldn't.

I was always aware at how much I stood out compared to other girls my age.  I was always the tallest or second tallest in my class.  I couldn't share hand me downs with my petite older cousin.  I had terrible allergies and asthma, so it was easier for me not to spend a lot of time outdoors running around with the other kids.  I took dance classes when I was eight.  I enjoyed dance at first, but as soon as I noticed how different I was from the other girls, I felt tall, fat, and awkward.  I didn't know how to make friends, and I began to dread going to dance.  I begged my parents to let me quit dance after the first recital.  They thought I became bored with it.  I just could no longer bear feeling so uncomfortable.  I couldn't really tell them how I felt about myself.  They would tell me to simply "stop caring what other people think.".

There were bullies, but not many.  I was called a fat pig every day of the third grade by a classmate.  I was called bigfoot, too.  Instead of standing up for myself, I just internalized (and maybe ate an extra helping of dinner that night).  I rationalized that my bullies were simply wounded souls looking for someone at which to aim their aggression.  I remember the first time anyone expressed concern for my health in a halfway constructive manner.  I was 15, and my pediatrician told me that I weighed too much for my frame and height.  I weighed 180 pounds at 5'5," and wore a clothing size 13/14.  Then she said, your hips are out to here, stretching her arms out pretty far.  Looking back, I think she may have been a bit dramatic, but I did lose 50 pounds after our little pep talk.

My high school gym teacher taught a unit on nutrition, during which we had to keep a food journal and do cheesy aerobics videos.  For the first time, I paid attention to what I was eating.  I quit soda and red meat, whittling down my diet to less than 1200 calories a day.  I started being more active, biking, walking, and actually participating in gym class.  I lost 50 pounds in less than a year, slimming down to 130 pounds and a size 5/6.  I received a lot more attention, and in turn felt more confident.  My friends and family showered me with praise.  Family members and strangers alike even suggested I go into modeling.   I tried out for different extracurricular activities, such as drama and student government.  I ran for and was elected SGA president during my junior year of high school.  I remember one of my teachers praising my weight loss in front of the entire class.  I guess I should have been proud of myself, but inside I was embarrassed and ashamed.  I had always been about the girl on the inside. Sure---I felt lighter physically now that the weight was gone, but I didn't feel like I had changed much as a person.  In fact, after a while I began to obsess over every bite of food, sometimes barely grossing 1000 calories in a day.  I was terrified of gaining the weight back, and my new life slipping through my fingers.  I stared at my body in the mirror for hours, critiquing every nook and cranny.  For some reason, I still saw a fat pig staring back at me. 

My mom bought me the most beautiful dress for my school's version of prom (without dancing, lol).  I felt like an absolute princess in a floor length lavender gown with a corset bodice, spaghetti straps, and a full ballroom skirt with a fluffy tulle overskirt.  My date, B, was one of my best friends (he's my husband now, but we were just friends back then).  The night of my junior formal banquet was easily one of the best nights of my life.

Eventually, the weight began to creep back on during my senior year of high school.  I quit tracking my food religiously.  I had a bit more of a social life, and a major crush on my friend B.  I asked him to be my date for the senior banquet, and that night--we became more than just friends.  I spent the summer after graduation working, hanging out with B, and preparing to go away to college. 

To be continued...

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