I received this story from the son of the writer. In his note to me he said of his mother that “she is a truly remarkable and wonderful woman and an amazing but due to years of being bullied as a child she has self-esteem issues and a lack of confidence.” This is such a common statement that I think many of us feel and coming from someone’s child, it just means that much more. What would be the potential of so many of us, if bullying wasn’t a factor of our childhood. Unfortunately, without a time machine, we just don’t know. ~Alan Eisenberg
A few weeks ago I went to a training class for a new position I recently accepted. This training class involved a lot of group speaking as well as speaking in front of the class. The feelings I was experiencing started to get me thinking about my childhood. When I was standing and speaking in front of these strangers, I felt like a child again. All I was thinking is that they were all thinking how fat I was. It was a miracle that I passed the training. Now I will share with all of you why to this day I still feel that way.
I will go back as far as the first grade. I have been overweight my entire life. I was always the fattest kid in class. The other kids constantly made fun of me. They made my first year of school miserable. I never wanted to go. The main thing I remember about first grade was lunch time. I remember standing in the lunch line to get my lunch. The kids would make animal noises at me when I would pass by their table. This went on for several weeks. I stopped eating my lunch and throwing it out. They still made fun of me. My father was called into the school because I was not eating. The teachers knew what was going on but they blamed it on family problems. My father said I had to eat. Eventually I just skipped the lunch line and started going outside to sit down. During this whole ordeal the teachers never asked the children to leave me alone. This went on for the entire first grade.
Second grade was more of the same. Name calling, teachers not caring, etc. But, by this time my parents started taking to a doctor because of my weight. I remember the doctor telling my parents not to let me eat so much. I remember them talking about me as if I was not there. I was an embarrassment for my family. I was the only overweight person in my family.
The rest of my elementary school years were pretty much the same. The kids constantly made fun of me. I started throwing up at an early age. I was probably the first bulimic. We used to have mini physicals in those days. We would get weighed in front of the entire class. Most of them would say to weigh me last because I would break the scale. The teacher would whisper my weight. The laughter would stay with me for days. I would go home and cry. I would pretend to be sick so that I didn’t have to go to school after the public humiliation. It was during that time that the doctors discovered my eyes were extremely bad and that I could not see. Not only was I fat, I now needed glasses. So along with the fat pig chants, and the mooing, and the oinking I was now four eyes. It would get worse and worse.
When I went to middle school it was just as bad. I remember a science class I had. The kid would set up a chair that was broken so that I would sit in it and break it. I would land on the floor. That was their favorite. They would make fun of my clothes as well. I had to wear men’s clothes because nothing fit me. Back then there were no plus sizes. I hated school. I never wanted to go. I wanted to drop out but m parents didn’t let me. Every day was more of the same nightmare; I honestly can’t remember anything good.
I think high school was the worst. A lot of the kids still made fun of me, but not as much. Some of the boys would talk to me, but then as soon as someone would make fun of them and call me their girlfriend they would stop. I hated school. My grades were terrible. I barely made it. I did not want to go. All of the girls had nice clothes, I wore men’s clothes.
I do have one fond memory that still to this day brings tears to me eyes. Every year during homecoming student council would sell mums that you could send to you bf or gf. I remember there was a boy in my calculus class that always asked me for help. He would talk to me even though his friends made fun of him. He was popular and had a girlfriend. He sent me a flower! That was the most wonderful thing that happened to me in school. I knew it was because he felt sorry for me, but it did not matter. I was happy for a little while. High school was tough. That is the only good memory I have. I never went to any after school functions, I never went to any dances, I did not go to the prom. No one would have asked me not in a million years.
I finally graduated. I did not graduate from college. Both of my brothers were thin and popular. They both graduated from a prestigious university. I am not blaming all of those kids who shaped my like to be what I am. It is my fault because I let them control me. I have no self-esteem and no self-confidence. All of those years I was embarrassed to be me. I hated myself as much as everyone else did. The sad thing is they hated me because I was overweight. I let them call me all the names they could. The majority of the teachers knew what was happening to me and they let it continue. I would often think it would be better if I did not exist. I never thought of hurting others, only myself. If I would have had a better time in school I feel my life would have been different. I let all of those kids destroy me. It really is me fault because I let them. I did not know any better. I will always suffer from no self-esteem and no confidence. Even after all of these years I still feel the same, still no self-esteem or self-confidence.
I remember the years when I had to ride the school bus and no one letting me sit next to them. There was the occasional time when someone had mercy and let me sit. It got to the point that I didn’t want to ride the bus. I had no choice. I started to ride the activity bus because there were very few kids on it. Then there were the sports activities when the popular kids would pick teams. I never got picked. I am sure there was a better way to do this but I guess the teachers like public humiliation. I remember being threatened for being fat.
As parents we should make sure that our kids are not being treated this way and that our kids are not treating others this way. As a teacher you should try to not let this happen to a child. Everyone has a right to learn in a non violent, positive environment. My life has been a struggle even after all these years. Again, I am not blaming anyone. I hope we can make a difference.
I think that if my childhood years would have been different my life would have been different. I still struggle with my weight. I struggle financially due to my lack of education. I struggle with relationships. My ex husband used to call me a fat pig when he would get mad at me. By that time I just could not take it anymore. Life does continue. We are shaped by our families and others around us. We do have some control over the lives of others; our treatment towards others can be the one that defines that person for their entire life. I know we are not perfect, but we can try to not constantly be knocking each other down. I have a lot more memories but then I would be up all night long. I hope this touches at least one person and that this makes a little bit of a difference for someone. I am not asking for apologies, just for change. I also don’t want anyone to think I feel sorry for myself. This has been my life and I can’t change it. When I compare myself to my brothers I realize what I missed in life. It is too late for me but it’s not too late for you.
~ (Name withheld by request)
Make the difference in someone’s life