This One Time I Felt Fat

As a child who struggled with being overweight, I had some negative experiences with body shaming from other children and even adults. This is a story when I was made to feel insecure in my body by an grown woman,

5th grade choir picture
Lisa, Tara, Krystal, Me, Catie

In elementary school (5th grade, I think) a bunch of my friends and I joined the choir.  One day when rehearsing for a school performance to be held at a high school auditorium (the big stage!), my friend Krystal and I volunteered for a song that required two students to dance in a bug and bear costume because it doesn’t get much better than dancing in costume in front of a big audience.  I wanted to be the bear, so I chose the bear.  I say I don’t know why I chose the bear, but I’m sure I had some reason.

Krystal and I were close friends.  We still try to keep in touch, but she lives across the country and we’re both moms now so that’s just life.

When we drove from Cali to Miami together circa 2008

Krystal was one of those friends you were guaranteed to have a good time with. She was open for new experiences, never afraid to be herself and valued our friendship (which you know … doesn’t always happen at that age).  We always had a blast together and I remember just constantly laughing together. Like this one time our friend Blake tried to save a skunk.

Flash forward from fifth grade to sometime after high school. This one summer night Krystal, Blake and I we’re pulling up to Blake’s house in my car when we noticed a skunk  that had a McDonald’s Mcflurry cup stuck to its head, but the cup had the lid still attached and the skinny part of the lid was squeezed over the skunk’s neck. The skunk was either going to suffocate or choke. So naturally, we wanted to help it, but we didn’t want to get sprayed or bitten. After some strategizing, Krystal and I still didn’t want to risk it. So, Blake decided he was going to try.

Long story short, Krystal and I watched from afar as he tried to rescue what I can only assume he hoped would become his new furry friend. We watched as Blake reached down and got the cup off. He and the skunk made eye contact. It was a magicial, yet fleeting moment because suddenly the skunk hissed at him and launched his spray all over Blake. It’s one of the worst things I’ve ever smelled, but one of the most hysterical things I’ve ever witnessed! Blake recently told me people don’t believe him when he tells this story, but Krystal and I can attest to the truth of this tale.

All that to say, I shared some of the most hilarious and exciting moments of my life, like this one, with Krystal.  And on this particular day of our blossoming friendship in 5th grade, I learned about how supportive she was too.

The day had come for us to try on our costumes, her the bug and me the bear. The mom who made them took us to the bathroom. She handed Krystal hers and turned to hand me mine, but before she handed it over she looked at me from head to toe and made a comment about my size. Now, I can’t remember exactly what she said, but the message was sent: I don’t know if this is going to fit you, but I guess you can try. There wasn’t much concern expressed in her demeanor, just an unnecessary comment. Maybe she was worried that she’d made it too small, but her crunchy face was screaming “I don’t knowwww.” Anxiety and embarrassment flooded over me.

I took the costume out of her hand and reluctantly closed the bathroom stall. I was so nervous I was sweating. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to perform after all. I was so excited before walking into that bathroom, but in the stall I was in near tears just praying the costume would fit. I stepped in, pulled it up, reached around the front and zipped it. It fit perfectly. I exhaled.

I came out and showed the mom and Krystal. Nobody commented on what had just happened. She checked the costumes and we changed back into our clothes. At that point I didn’t care about the comment, I was just happy the costume fit.

On our way back to class, Krystal pointed out how rude the mom was to have said what she said. I was kind of surprised that she noticed, but relieved at the same time. I was grateful to have had my friend with me, because even though those words hurt my feelings, Krystal was there to cheer me up and remind me of my worth. These are the type of friends who pick you up when you’re down to give you the strength to keep it movin’. Shout out to you Krystal!

Growing up “chubby” was hard enough. This woman really had no business making a comment like that. She probably should have waited until I tried it on and then dealt with it not fitting if it didn’t, because making a child feel self conscious is probably not good for their developement. I definitely experienced body image issues–but I can’t just blame this lady. We all endure struggles and I’m pretty sure there is no way around that. However, there are instances where, as adults, we can be more mindful of our words and actions with children because we can impact their self-image, confidence etc… But hey, she wasn’t perfect and neither am I. This is just my personal recollection of the scenario.

I was 11 years old, in elementary school and I felt fat. Am I over having had frequent experiences like this as a child? Probably not. Am I gonna let it get me down or hold me back? Hell no!

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