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Were You Overweight as a Child or Teen? Were You Teased?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Yeah, yeah, you all expect a chuckle from my blogs. Disclaimer in advance: this one is serious. (Sorry to disappoint).

I have been overweight, if not obese, for about 95% of my life. Even from the earliest pre-school years, dating back before my photographic memory of all weight-related insults, slights and ostracism, photographs tell the tale. And there was never a time when I was not subject to varying degrees of social ridicule over this simple fact.

Now not everyone who pre-judged a playmate, classmate, potential date or coworker based on their weight necessarily felt good about doing so - then or now. As society generally grew more tolerant about lifestyle differences, both laws and common civilized interchange became more tolerant of differences and less accepting of past practices of ridicule and (at times) discrimination. But facts are facts: not uncommonly it was out-and-out hazing.

"Could not have been as bad as all that", some say. Well my horrified memories of the teasing and hazing are hardly unique. CNN now has picked up on it:

As adults now, we endured what we endured. We cannot undo the past (when Michael J. Fox perfects that DeLorean, I am FIRST in line to return to my childhood & teens for a do-over!). We can learn from the past, however. And we can do everything in our power to protect our kids form a 21st century do-over of that horror. I know I am...

So, do the CNN articles resonate with you too?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Wow! This was an interesting and uncomfortable read. I wore chubby girls clothes. I was the smart one and my sister was the pretty one. Yes, I was teased. But more at home by my mother and father who used to sing "Fatty, fatty, two by four, couldn't get through the bathroom door..." and the weird dating experiences in the 20's didn't happen to me until my very late 20's and early 30's. Someone who would not have looked at me, except with disdain and disgust 40 lbs. ago was suddenly wanting to take me to dinner?? I remember the people who made nasty remarks and who teased me. And like you, I will never, ever let them off the hook. I hadn't even really thought about that consciously until a couple years ago I ran into a man from high school who had been cruel to me back then. Now he was morbidly obese. When he tried to apologize I simply pretended that I had no idea who he was or what he was talking about. I figured Karma is a bitch and sometimes, so am I. And some of the popular cheerleader types who made snarky remarks gained that baby weight and never lost it. They probably have it worse than I do because they only had their looks to go on. I developed my brain and a great sense of humor and I have excelled in my work life. I love that little fat girl. She was always such a smart cookie...and lots of those jerks just grew up to be bigger jerks! I disagree with the concept that fat is the new ugly. Fat was always ugly. But it wasn't forever.
    1563 days ago
    I was a chubby kid... my grandma used to make fun of my 'big butt and fat thighs' - that hurt so bad even then.
    I kinda grew into my big butt, so I was actually a skinny teen - I was a *whopin'* 97-nothing lbs until I was 18 - I was super active, I was blessed with a high metabolism, BUT...
    I have always had (since as far back I can remember - age 5 or so) a COED (compulsive over eating disorder). For a host of reasons that I have explored and came to terms with, food as a child was all I had control over. It was my friend, my hope, my escape, my comfort.
    It has taken me SO sooo many years to finally make my way to a healthy, consistent lifestyle. It wasnt until I really did the work, dealt with the issues of WHY I started over-eating / stress eating that I was really able to make long term progress with having a good relationship with food.
    I really wish people would be more kind. I wish parents would teach their kids manners - I wish those same parents as adults would have manners themselves... I guess that lays the issue.
    Words hurt. I feel only the perfect should judge. (-: That would be a perfect world.
    2126 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/26/2012 11:25:28 PM
    Except for when I had pneumonia at age 3 and was a cute, skinny little girl ----- I was always a chubby kid. I don't remember being teased, but I know I was left out of many social activities - which, in turn, led me to spend a lot of time in a world of my own making. In my teens, I 'thinned out'...and had some close friends. Get the connection? 'thinned out' = close friends...........

    My parents sent mixed messages - stuffing me at most meals with fatty, Jewish, ethnic food, and then later telling me I needed to lose weight. Vegetables meant corn or potatoes. Green veggies entered my life in my teens.

    My life is a classic example of chronic yo-yo dieting. There were long periods (years and years) when I was thin; followed by long periods when I was heavy; followed by get the idea.

    Through it all; quoting woubbie: "no one ever tortured me the way I tortured myself".
    My self image was set by the time I was 5.

    2129 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/23/2012 6:06:43 PM
  • AKIMA06
    I wasn't fat as a child, I didn't gain weight until I quit smoking and tried to get pregnate. Then I gained and gained and gained. I do remember how cruel the kids can be though, I wasn't a cheerleader or popular at all and was mostly ignored until I started drinking and doing drugs then I fit in somewhere but that got me to AA.

    My daughter however has trouble with her weight and when she went into the 6th grade she grew to 6'1" while all the other kids were much shorter and smaller. She is now losing weight and is happy about it but still feels out of place because of her height. I just worry about her health as well as my sons. Neither one of them will exercise much and don't drink much water or eat vegetables and fruits. I find that I have to be a good role model in order for them to do anything that I want them to.

    I hate it that I get treated differently than thin people. There is a woman I know who has anorexia or something close and she is very popular with both men and women. Maybe it is just me and the way I am. I know I avoid relationships with people and use my weight as a reason. I just want to lose it.
    2130 days ago
    Yes, this is a serious blog. Ridicule hurts deeply, especially if you are a child and have no "armor." I was not overweight as a child, but my family was poor. I did not have the kind of shoes that all the other girls had. I had sturdy brown oxfords, not saddle oxfords or penny loafers. I am now grandmother age, and I still remember the pain of ridicule over my "boy's shoes"...How much the words hurt!
    Sadly, there seems to still be the nasty, hurtful ridicule happening today. The adults also teach this ridicule by their own nasty conduct. Watch TV lately?? Very sad indeed!
    2130 days ago
  • PICKIE98
    The only people who called me names to my face, were my two sisters,one older, one younger.. PIG, FATS, COW, MOOSE, HORSE, TUBBS,UGLY, FAT CREEP, were the norm every day,, Sick as it sounds, it was worse, my mother did nothing about it.. This was for at least ten years,, I gained weight right after getting my tonsils removed, which was also the onset of puberty for me,,,
    The two people who could make it hurt the most, knew it and did it, laughing the whole time,, add a mother who stood aside,,
    IF somebody did that to me now, I know exactly what I would do,, but as a child, I felt totally alone in a very cruel house. I can absolutely relate...
    2131 days ago
  • KANOE10
    Fat children are discrimnated against. I received many ugly comments as I grew up. It is not changing..I think bullying is getting worse in schools.

    Thanks for the excellent articles.
    2131 days ago
    No one ever tortured me the way I tortured myself.

    The self-loathing of being overweight and not understanding why or what to do about it lasted until I alternately low-carbed and starved myself thin in my early twenties.

    Funny thing. No one treated me any better once I was thin. If they hadn't liked me in the past they still didn't like me.

    The light finally went on. I no longer cared what people thought of me physically, and I only cared slightly if they didn't like me personally.

    But nowadays, the sight of all the enormously overweight people in our environment makes me want to weep from sheer frutstration. Our public health officials have used us for decades as guinea pigs in their low-fat experiment and it's turned into a disaster of epic proportions (pun sadly intended).

    2132 days ago
    I was teased and made from of from the very beginning I started school. at first I ignored them, then I started talking back to them in JR high and I started sticking up for the other kids thast were being picked on. So we kind of had our own crowd so to speak. I didn't date anyone in my home town and was always going out with people from other towns so never really new what there problem was. Turned out at my 20 year high school reunion they all finally told me they thought I was someone they admired but were to scared to say anything because I was just being myself and refused to "Fit In" So much for the In Crowd emoticon
    2133 days ago
  • NOMIS1
    I was fat my entire life with the exception of the times I lost weight - that lasted for a few minutes each time. I was not teased for being fat - but fat I was.
    2133 days ago
    I'll be incredibly honest.

    I was teased. I remember when I moved, I wanted to branch out from just being that shy nerdy kid and have friends, so I started being vocal on the bus, standing up for myself, etc. The other 6th grade girls would hate when I sat in the back with the other 6th graders. They once realized they could bully me when pieces of glue stick "accidentally" got in my hair (they were throwing them... in my direction... and called it an accident). They put crumbs in my hair, would throw full water bottles at me, tell me to "moooo-ve" whatever.

    My mom found out, and the school got involved, and I was never bothered about it much again. Of course, having such a painful experience did prompt me to be a bit more careful. I'm not sure I would've curbed my weight gain had it happened. I didn't understand at that time what being overweight really meant for my health. I had friends at that point, and I asked them if I was a cow. They told me I was a person, but I was on the heavier side, and maybe I shouldn't be eating two doughnuts everyday. Hearing it from my friends, I wasn't hurt. They just made me realize that while what the girls said was very mean, it was also rooted in truth. It put me down a path that ultimately led to better health.

    I'm not going to say bullying is a positive. It's not. But I will admit that if we accept obese/overweight just "as is," the kids won't understand the dangerous consequences. While I hate that kids are bullied about it, we can't tell the kids that "everybody is beautiful and perfect the way they are" because that's a lie too. No, you are not perfect at 5'7", 290 pounds, 50% body fat. The problem is not that kids are being bullied for being /fat/ or that fat is somehow "ugly." The problem is that kids are not offering kids the kind of support kids need. I do think kids should tell other kids if they have a weight issue- but not through bullying and being rude. It needs to be done in a loving way, like my friends did for me. It's not about placating the child. It's about saying where you are now is good and you are loved, but don't stop trying to be your best, and at your best, you eat healthfully and engage in activity.
    2134 days ago
  • NEWMOM20121
    Another great blog. Thank you so much for sharing.
    2134 days ago
  • MARYANN2323
    I would have to say, even though I was a chubby child, I did not face ridicule nor harassment. My hard times came more when I was older. At an age when those around you should certainly know better. And, even though that was MANY moons ago, it still, to this day, hurts.
    2134 days ago
    I suppose do to other things that happened to me as a pre-teen - I built up this wall around me (which there are still pieces/parts up), so I usually made fun of myself before anyone else could do it. It didn't hurt when I knew (or thought) people/kids were laughing with me, not at me.

    Guess that's why I've always had a smile on my face and a great sense of humor - it was simply my way of surviving day-to-day.

    When I was around 13 or so - my dad and I were at a local McDonald's and we happened to see my brother's mother-in-law (well she was back then) - she walked over to the table and starting chatting with us. Apparently I chuckled at something and she looked at my dad then back at me and said "I guess that saying is true - fat people really ARE happy all the time". That old broad had NO idea how close she came to being decked emoticon
    2134 days ago
    This is a great blog. I enjoy reading the stories of the other Sparkers on here as I can so relate. My mother and her sisters were very overweight so me being a fat kid did not seem to get noticed by them. (not a good thing) At 5 when I started kindergarten, I learned I was fat and was made very conscious of it that caused great pain. I was only verbally teased a little as the boys form of abuse was pointing, whispering and giggling which made me want to hide under a rock each day.

    This was the fifties and fat stood out. Not the norm like today. I also was very tall for my age and not petite and broad shoulders. In the sixth grade we had square dancing every Friday. Mandatory to go to. None of the boys wanted to dance with me and I remember one time the teacher dragging a little boy over to me to make him be my partner. Everyone laughed and to this day I can hear that laughter and see the giggling faces of my peers. It made me a very shy withdrawn person for years even after I slimmed down. I was a very sensitive child with not a great home life so this was the icing on the cake so to speak.

    Fast foreword to High School and discovering diet pills. Slimmed down and at 17 was now slender and considered pretty. Some of those same boys in grammar school (especially the most popular one who I had a crush on in grammar school) now wanted to date me. Loved the attention but felt bitter that they did not notice me before as I am the same person inside.

    My life after that was a yo yo mess. Up and down in weight. With age comes wisdom. I am still trying to lose a little weight but eating healthy, exercising and most important feeling good emotionally in all aspects of your life is where it's at.

    Because everyone here was able to be vulnerable, I was able to be vulnerable which is why I love Sparkpeople! Thanks for being the one to start such a great discussion.

    2134 days ago
    Of course it's nothing new for chubby or otherways overweight kids to be ridiculed. What is new -- and it isn't so new any more -- is the public and media attention. The subject falls under the "bullying" umbrella. I don't see an end to the tyranny and misery in my lifetime, but who knows? Will Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" have a meaningful impact on young kids? Will school or other programs on "It's not nice to make fun of people" do anything? I doubt it. Kids [people] know instinctively that it's not nice to make fun of people. That's why they do it. The kids on the receiving end certainly know and that's why some of them do the same to others, only for other "faults."

    Sometimes I think that more subtle approaches may have greater impact -- more kids' books with illustrations of people of all shapes and sizes and colors, etc. I'm not up on kids' books, but if the illustrations cover weight, good. I think the change that is desired will be long and slow in coming. The process is up against the developmental stages of a child's discovering himself, his place in the family, then the neighborhood and, finally, the larger world.

    All this said by someone not in a field related to child development.
    2134 days ago
    I was a chubby kid - actually had to wear the "chubby" girls sizes (similar to the boys' "husky").

    But I was rarely teased. I was actually teased more for having short hair (a pixie cut, which I hated) than for my weight. Mostly by the boy I liked, of course.

    I have no idea why I wasn't targeted. Maybe because I really didn't care much. Maybe because there were other kids who were easier targets. Maybe because it was a small town and we all knew each other from when we were very young.

    But I see a lot of bullying in my school now - and as a teacher, I refuse to allow bullying in my classroom or near me. I've reprimanded students, made them apologize, called in parents, the whole bit. I've also had serious talks with students about why they bully others. (I've also had students try to bully me.) It's a huge problem in our society today, and until everyone speaks out, it will keep happening.
    2134 days ago
    I was never teased....because I wasn't an overweight kid. I was very active as a kid. I never teased anyone either, but I remember a friend making comments about another girl in school and I cringed inside. I was teased once in high school, although I wasn't overweight by more than a couple pounds I'm thinking. So I dropped her as a friend. And so did another friend of mine. lol

    I have a friend who has make comments before, somewhat loudly, about morbidly obese people in my presence. She too is overweight. She isn't quiet about the comments. She has said things like- My God, don't ever let me get that big!' I cringe and have 'said shhhhh, they can hear you that isn't nice to say.' The last time I also said 'you wouldn't want to hear anyone making those comments about you' and I haven't heard a comment from her, since. There are some insensitive people out there.

    I gained most of my weight in adulthood- sedentary lifestyle and eating too much. I'm turning this around one day at a time.
    2134 days ago
    I had my share of teasing, bullying and hazing through elementary and jr. high too, but for the opposite reason. I was small and skinny and therefore a really handy target for rough bullying. My poor mum used to buy all sorts of supplements for me to try to beef me up, but no such luck. Eventually I had to beat up one of the worst bullies and that changed the others, kind of. Back in the 50's, you could fight back physically and not get in too much trouble : ) I've been able to be pretty peaceable since then.
    2134 days ago
    Nope, never teased. However, what I remember my mother calling me most is Fat Ass. And THAT left it's mark on me. We had individual pictures taken of us in 4th grade. We made frames for our pictures, and the teacher put them on the window sill. I remember turning my picture around because what I saw was a fat girl that wasn't too pretty. I weighed 92 lbs. So I was probably 10 - 15 lbs overweight? I remember the teacher talking to my mother about that. I never did anything "special" to slim down, but, by high school, I was a 5'4" 120 - 124 lbs teenager that was actually of normal weight....thinking I was fat because yes, the popular girls were weighing 105 - 115. I hit my stride in my early 20's. By then, I had enough guys chasing me that I knew I looked good. And used it to my advantage. That lasted until I got married and had my son. My ex, who met me when I was weighing within the 117 - 130 range, wanted me to get back down to that range. However, after giving birth, I stayed at exactly 140 for probably 15 years. Which was PERFECT for me. But, I started yo yo dieting for HIM........and we all know what happens when you do that. As I sit here typing, I am now 100 lbs over my ideal weight....feeling tired and beat up. I have been on both sides of the fence. I know what it feels like to look good and get compliments. To have people run to wait on you. To have men flirt. I also know how it feels to get NO compliments. To have men look away. So, for me........the pain comes from being invisible. And now, I don't care. Apathy. Tired..........tired.........tired.
    2134 days ago
    My first thought reading the CNN article is the same as what many people commented on that CNN article: fat is not the new ugly. Being the fat kid has always been a source of ridicule. I was never outright bullied but it was never easy being the "fat kid". It became worse when I got to high school where your popularity was totally dependent upon how skinny you were. Girls in high school are vicious. Yeah, my self-esteem took a hit in high school but I am so thankful that it was never completely tied to my body size. I think most of the girls I went to school with grew out of it but I feel bad for those who don't. How sad they must be to have their self-esteem completely tied to being skinny.
    2134 days ago
  • DALMOM2007
    Luckily, I was never bullied or teased as a least not by other kids. It was my father who was always hard on me....when I was 9-12, he actually made me step on a scale every week before he would allow me to take horse back riding lessons. If I didn't "weigh-in" correctly, I didn't get to go. (Of course, I always found a way around this, whether it was holding my weigh off the scale by holding on to the shower curtain, or having someone else take me.) This stopped when I turned 12 because he bought me a horse, and he couldn't punish the horse by not letting me be with her and exercising her. Actually, my dad made a snide comment about my weight about 3 years ago when we were out to dinner at a brother and nephew came to my defense and shot his comment down....he never did that again.

    It was actually around a year and a half ago, that I had "Adults" be complete jerks and make comments to me in regard to being too heavy to ride my horse. What the idiots didn't understand, is that my horse that I was riding was "HOT" (as in fired up and ready to run, not to mention kick them), and what I was trying to do was keep her from hurting the people. You cannot imagine how close I came to just releasing my hold and letting her go at them...! (I have very good insurance.) However, all kidding aside, they really hurt my feelings. I don't understand where strangers think they have the right to harass me like that. They don't know me....I would never have said anything hurtful to them. I've always gone by the rule, that if you can't say something nice, keep you mouth shut. And I sure as heck don't judge other people..."To each his own".

    Thanks for posting this blog...sometimes its to nice to reflect and let it out.
    2134 days ago
    Oh my. Definitely resonates. The memories are definitely painful (especially from Middle School), however, fortunately @ my age, I learned to have self-confidence along the way. NOT EASY!

    It is very difficult to walk that fine line with my 16 yr. old DD who GENERALLY eats a oretty healthy diet, but certainly I keep the body image dialogue going. She has had friends in the past with eating issues and saw first hand the health repercussions (unfortunately). BUT that is a springboard to talk about healthy nutrition vs. dieting and being able to accept our body type. She is seemingly comfortable with her body. Thank goodness.
    2134 days ago
    yep.... it happens for sure ... emoticon
    2134 days ago
    I know exactly what you are saying. I have weight issues from the time I was 5 or 6 to present. When I was in pre- and elementary school it was horrible. Things started to change in middle school. I had "grown" into my body a little. Was still very overweight, but was now taller and not as round. The bullies didn't want to mess with me as much and I sure wasn't going to take anymore crap from them. One would still test me every now and then, but I really wasn't messed with that much. In high school, I really wasn't bullied at all. So, until I was about in 8th grade, things were bad. Now, my wit is a little sharper than most; so, I just make them feel really stupid when someone feels they must harass me.
    2134 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/18/2012 8:35:56 AM
    I too was the outsider all through grade school and high school. I was always heavy for my age. Dare I say almost obese by todays standards. Which have changed from the 1957 Metropolitan life standards. I was determined that my children would eat reasonable portions and not go through what I went through. I raised 3 children. My eldest was considered heavy all through his life. Born 12 lbs he topped the height and weight charts through most of his childhood. He is an overweight adult but when he graduated from HS he was a husky but not fat 6 footer. And yes he got teased. My 2nd child was normal weighted all through high school. She had beautiful bone structure, was an avid dancer and did not stick out in any way for her weight. She was teased. My third child was always heavier than her sister and always was teased for being fat. Her body type was such that she was plumper than a stick. As a teenager she is in the normal range for BMI. She dances 4 days a week and eats reasonably well. Because she is not a stick figure, she would be considered fat despite her 5 ft 8 inch 155 lb statistics. Her 5 ft 7 inch 160 lb sister would not be considered fat because she has a narrow waist. Not exactly fair is it. As for the teasing they all got it. Kids are nasty.
    2134 days ago
  • REDSHOES2011
    I was a standing target for teasing, so was my oldest son.. I couldn't turn the cheek because they pressured him to fall down steep steps and break a ankle.. If anyone says anything to me these days, I say excuse son what did you say repeat it out loud I didn't hear you.. Bullies don't expect their victims to confront them- it is a brave bully whom steps to me these days.. I put on my best frown and don't move from the spot the other person has a hard time because I am telling them just exactly what I think of them right back at them- I will not longer be a doormate of amusement for idiots..
    My kid didn't return to school or get his grades that year.. He had to go to a expensive private school to just get him out my front door.. I marched up to the bully whom was on my sons butt like a leech and confronted his unknowning mother.. I told his mother to her face what I thought of her and husband parenting skills.. They were horrified of the accident and where also dragged into the school headmasters office.. I threatened the school with social services and the police to make my point - stop bullies.. I still steer at the boy whom as good as pushed my son each time he gets on the bus- I want him to feel the heat my son felt for almost 3 years.. My son used to suffer diarea and throw up before going off to school each and every day.. Another mother also put me on to whom was behind my sons quietness- her daughter one day ran home and said it is horrible how they tease that boy in class. He doesn't say anything and is so quiet- and they are mean mom.. The teacher just ignores it and it continues day efter day..
    How can a mom ignore other people are saying it is happening? I am thankful there are still good parents whom teach their kids not to stay quiet..
    2134 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/18/2012 8:29:30 AM
    Wow, does this bring back painful memories. I started gaining weight when I was about 8. I don't remember being 'normal' weight but there is a picture of me in second grade that proves I once was. All I remember is being fat and nagged by my mom and teased by my sister, brothers, and 'friends'. I became 'the smart one' and 'the good one' to compensate. I recently came across some pictures and I wasn't as fat as I thought I was. Like one of the children described in the article, I was taller and broader. I was 11 months older than my sister but much 'bigger'. But it became a self-fulfilling prophesy. I was teased because I was fat, so I stayed away from the other kids, stayed home alone a lot (both parents worked - practically unheard of in the '60's), and I sought comfort in food. After I while I wasn't just big, I was fat. Interestingly enough, I learned much later that my sister was bulimic during her teens and twenties.

    I have to disagree with the one comment, though. No one is saying that is it OK for our kids to be fat. It is unhealthy and I don't think anyone would wish that on their child. We are saying it is not OK to tease or bully a child due to their weight, or any other physical or mental 'difference' they may have. We as adults need to show children through our words and actions that teasing and/or bullying will not be tolerated on any level.
    2134 days ago
    In my teens and 20s I was always about 120 lbs but thought I was fat and felt bad about my body because my friends were all tiny, probably 105 lbs. What a shame that I felt so bad about my body when it was so healthy. Hindsight is 20/20.

    Where is Superman when you need him to fly around the earth counterclockwise really, really fast to turn back time.

    Yvonne emoticon
    2134 days ago
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