When I was little, my grandmother and mom both thought that a fat baby was a healthy baby. So they fed me a lot. Even when I wasn’t hungry, they were shoving a bottle or spoon into my mouth. Adults and even other kids were pinching my cheeks because I had cute round cheeks. Truth be told, I was a butterball from a young age. In gym, sadly I was the last kid chosen for the class teams. By sixth grade, I had a hard time buying cute clothes, because I was a “big girl.” And the stores catered to tiny sizes, not big-sized kids.
My mom would hover and tell me I was beautiful anyway and not to worry about what others think. My dad, however, was always frustrated with my weight. My dad would yell at me that no one likes a fat girl and that I needed to pay attention to my weight. He would nudge me to exercise more and not eat so much bread while my mom would cringe at his comments and slip treats to me to make me feel better. When I earned good grades, she’d bring me a hot fudge sundae. For cleaning my plate at dinner, the reward was a cookie. They would go out for the evening and before leaving, she would quiet me with handfuls of candy.
By the time I got to college, I wanted to regain control of my body—and my life. I’d seen websites devoted to people with anorexia and actually felt inspired. I knew I hated my body and wanted to do something about it. My freshman dorm had a contest to see who could lose the most weight in a week. I signed up. I starved myself and went to the sauna at the university gym and sat in it for way too long. But at the end of the week, I won. It felt so good to be rewarded for losing weight that I just kept going. I was away from my parents’ crazy-making and it became my own private contest. I would see how many hours of exercise I could tolerate in a weekend. I would ride my bike everywhere and run for hours at a time each evening. I could survive without breakfast, with a small bowl of rice and vegetables for lunch and a bowl of soup for dinner. Plus I discovered the magic of laxatives. I tracked my weight daily and hid the list in my desk drawer. I saw that I was losing weight steadily even though I still felt like I had a ways to go. Eventually people started noticing. They’d say I looked good but I couldn’t really hear the compliments. I looked in the mirror and sometimes still heard my dad’s voice yelling at me that nobody likes a fat girl.
I’m a few years out of college now and still haven’t been in a real relationship. I hate my body too much to become intimate with anyone. I go on a few dates and then as it starts to get closer, I push away.
Has this happened to you? What advice would you give to someone in this situation?
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