Hello, thanks for joining us today for more of “Finding Joy”. (This is part of a weekly 8 part series.) If you missed out on Parts 1 – 3, you can catch up on the website under “A Healthier You” (Testimonies):
My earliest memory of feeling “different” or “fat” was the summer of 1972, just before I was to start 6th grade. I was the ripe old age of 10 (2 months shy of 11) and my brother 13. We were on our annual family summer vacation and as Floridians do, heading somewhere North to spend a week together. Now the only prerequisite was the hotel had to have a swimming pool.
It was on this particular trip that my brother decided to point out to me that I was fat. He made fun of my pot belly, especially since he was athletic. He’d always played little league baseball and was starting football in the fall. He laughed hysterically when I’d have to put on my white bathing cap, a rule strictly enforced back then when in public pools. He threatened to write “GE” on top of it saying I looked like a big fat light bulb. As he chuckled at his jokes, so did I (to keep from crying). Who had my hero/brother become? If he felt this way about me, then it MUST be true. If he thought I looked like this, other people must think that way too. Right?! And so the seed of self- doubt was planted. Now the world would see me as FAT and worthless.
Sixth grade was a turning point in my young life. To alleviate school overcrowding, bussing began. They pulled all 6th graders from Elementary schools and put them in a separate school. They pulled all 7th graders from Jr. High schools and did the same. The 6th grade center was several miles and a long bus ride from my home. My parents made the decision to put me in a small private school. It had only two 6th grade classes, and we were the oldest students in the school. I loved it there, but it was during my 6th grade year that I would go through “the change” of puberty, and I then realized why my body had gotten so round. It still didn’t erase the damage done by those harsh words. Of course, my brother was just being a silly boy, never trying to inflict harm. I’ve never shared this with him, even today as adults, because I’d never want him to feel responsible for any of my pain. I love him too much.
Now that the seed was planted, I needed to water it. I started to look at all my girlfriends and fellow classmates. They had thinner bodies, thicker hair, prettier smiles, cooler clothes, etc. Most of the boys were dorky, but I still wanted them to like me. Now, in my 11 year old mind, how would I get the boys to like me if I don’t measure up to all the other girls? Oh, I know, I’ll bring candy to school. Yep, that’ll work. It did and so friendships were formed and all was well with the world … or was it? … not really!
More to come next Monday! See you then!