I went up to my nieces’ bedroom today to see their new bunk beds. Because we live in my mom’s house, their room is filled with family pictures that my mom has collected throughout the years. I came across this picture of an 11 year old me during an family vacation to Barbados in 1987. I remember that vacation very well. It was a very important summer for me.
I had just finished a hellish year in sixth grade where I was bullied constantly. I had been looking forward to that vacation for awhile. I hadn’t been to Barbados for six years and I was looking forward to seeing my grandmother and many of my cousins and my aunties and uncles. I remember alot from that trip, but the thing that I remembered most today when I saw this picture was the way that I was body shamed during that entire trip.
My mom put me on my first diet when I was 8 years old. She wanted to buy me a pair of leather pants (it was the 80s) and I couldn’t fit into any of the ones in the children section. So my mom decided to put me on a diet. I was always bigger than my bony ass cousins and the bony kids that I went to school with. When this picture was taken, I had been living in Malden, Massachusetts for about 3 years. I was always bigger than everyone else that I went to school with. So I was an easy target because I was the only Black girl in my grade and I was bigger than most of the other girls. I was picked on alot because of both differences, but no one body shamed me like my own family.
I come from a very skinny family. My mom loves to brag about how she was 90 lbs when she was married. She can tell you how much weight she gained with each pregnancy. At the time the majority of my cousins on my mother’s side of the family (my gran had six kids and they all had at least 3 kids each) were very thin. My dad’s side of the family is larger. My mother lived my entire childhood in fear that I would grow up to be like my fat lady aunties.
During that trip I felt like the fattest 11 year old in the world. My weight was the subject of conversation everywhere. I was told that when we got back to Boston that I would be taken to Weight Watchers. Years later, when I first saw pictures of myself from that trip, I expected to see a little porker staring back at me. I’m actually surprised at how small I was. I shouldn’t be. When I first started Weight Watchers, at 12, my weight was about 130 and I thought that I was beyond fat because I wasn’t 90 lbs like my classmates.
I don’t want to blame my mother for my current weight problem. My mother wasn’t malicious. She was just ignorant and trying to do her best. But I can’t help but resent the fact that I was made to feel different and fat my whole life, when I was thin my whole life, until I gained 100 pounds very quickly in college. I wasn’t fat until I was about 19 years old. I wasn’t destined to be fat. I don’t have to be fat. I can change this.
Thanks for Reading,