by Eve Vawter
My kid wrote this essay for a creative writing English assignment, and it's all about growing up fat and how he learned that being fat isn't the worst thing to be. He adopted some healthier habits, and even though he's never going to be a thin kid or the same size as the rest of his classmates, he's decided that has zero bearing on who he is as a person and how he sees himself.
It's easy to forget that bullying can impact the self-esteem of our sons, and that boys can feel just as insecure about their bodies as girls can. Even though I didn't help my kid write this paper, nor did he ask me my opinion on any of it, I like to think that what his father and I have taught him and his siblings about self-esteem and body image have influenced his writing and how he sees himself.
The following is shared here with his permission — unedited, with all typos and grammatical errors intact.
"You're fat," they'd tease, their tongues sliding in and out of their mouths in a malicious, serpentine way. "Why don't you just lose weight? Exercise?" They'd continue, swirling around my mind like a noose around a neck. "What's your excuse? Foods too good? Genetics?" They'd continue, snickering and giggling like imps. I didn't realize I was larger. I never really did. I always thought it meant I'd be taller, or faster, or stronger. But no. I was... Fat. Chubby. Tubby. A Lardass. Everything in between, I've heard it. Each word getting harder hitting. Angrier. More aggressive. Less teasing, more hats. It went from a quip and a giggle, to a slur and a glare.
When I was younger, I'd react. Be it tears, fighting back, anger in general, I'd retort to what they'd say. But, it always went worse than I'd think. It'd always hit me back, a boomerang of discipline. The school never realized I was being teased. "Bullying will not be tolerated," the biggest lie of elementary. Nowadays, I don't care. I went null to it. Of course, it was annoying, and rude. Imagine if someone constantly insulted you for existing too much. My self image was a giant beast, constantly mimicking me, giggling with his giant curled teeth of insecurities, staring at me with his beady, black eyes of fear and hurt, breathing his foul breath that spelled out "self-hate" with every puff.
The older I got, the more I grew, (mentally.) I realized, people would stop picking on you. They started not caring what you looked like, aside from dumb friendly quips. I started to look at myself differently, confused with who I was. I wasn't the odd, quiet, fat, creepy kid. I was what I wanted to be. Sure, the fat was always there. Diets, exercise, nothing. It truly was genetics for me. Maybe it's my Latvian blood. Maybe it's just my body type. But, I started thinking, "Maybe I'm not so ugly. Fat guys can be cute."
And I was right. The older I got, the more matured I was, I realized, my body type couldn't be fixed. I didn't care. I knew how to beautify myself. Self grooming. Expensive hair products. Acne care. I had became a metrosexual. Sure, I'm chubby, but goddamn, I'm beautiful. I wouldn't have ever learned I was as perfect, better, and handsome if I wasn't called fat.
I decided, "if my body can't do it, everything else will." I oozed self confidence, my opinion being the only one that matters to me. Hours spent brushing my hair, washing my face, shaving excess facial hairs, using expensive, artisan soaps and lotion. I'd be perfect in every other way, which made me perfect as a whole. I used to wake up and stare in the mirror, hating myself. My chubby face. My enlarged everything.
But slowly, I began losing weight. Changing my diet, cleaning my life up, the occasional jog, I was steadily changing my body type at a steady, safe rate. Not having to exclude entire food groups, not having to rip my spleen out of a treadmill, no. I just, did what I originally did, but more confidently. I speak more, I laugh more, participate more, act more, and try more, and most of all, love myself more. My self confidence had become a friend, someone close, doing nothing but rooting for me. "I'm here you,. I love you. So much. Go out there, bud. Go get them!" They'd call, shirts adorned with my face, flags saying "I LUV U!" waving mystically from the back.
So, to everyone who called me fat. To everyone who snickered and giggled since kindergarten.
Nice job, idiots. Now I'm perfect.
And for anyone curious, he got an 'A' on the paper.