Fat shaming. A topic I am intimately familiar with.
It feels like this happened a lot in my life, especially during my younger years.
One particular memory that stands out took place at a baseball game. My dad used to take us to Buffalo Bison games when I was a kid. We would go with other family friends, so there was always a gaggle of kids running through the stadium and being wild. The dads would toss us some cash and let us loose to grab snacks & stuff. We had so much fun, and we never sat still for very long.
This one time, as we were getting up and down from our seats, some random guy looked at me and said “do you ever stop eating, kid?”.
Gosh, as I write this I can still recall the shame and embarrassment I felt in that moment. I was with a group of kids, all of us were eating snacks and running around. Why did he single me out? Unfortunately I knew the answer to this question, even in my early years.
I was always bigger than the other kids in my circle. I was never skinny. And, because of that, it sometimes (a lot of times) felt like I had a target on my back. Like it was open season on the girl who didn’t look like the others. I developed very early. I had curves and boobs before most kids my age even knew what they were. This left me feeling like a sitting duck most of the time.
Kids, and adults, made fun of my body. There were a ton of nasty names and comparisons tossed my way. I clearly remember Miss Piggy, Orca (the whale), or just plain fat ass (not a very creative bully), just to name a few.
I remember thinking there was something wrong with me and my body. Why were they so mean? Why did they hate me and my body so much? Why did they make fun of me?
Now, of course I know that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me. I even knew it then, in my heart. I learned at a very early age that other people's nastiness had everything to do with them, and their own insecurities. Unfortunately, that didn't take away the sting of their words when I was 10. I was a kid. I just wanted to play and have fun. I did have lots of fun, but this is around the time when my habit of emotional eating began to surface. I started to limit my eating in public. I tried not to eat in front of people for fear of being made fun of. I waited until I was alone, when I could sneak the food to soothe my sadness and confusion.
I’m not saying I was completely innocent in my youth. Not at all! There were times when I threw a nasty name or two. I’m not proud of those moments. But, this story is not about that. It’s about rewinding to my story of origin, to the time when I first started to think that there was something wrong with my body. It's important to acknowledge this. In this awareness we can open the door to the emotions that have been locked up inside. We can allow ourselves to feel them, and let them pass, instead of continuing to stuff them down. This is how the healing process can begin. I can tell you from my own personal experience that there is freedom on the other side.
I’m sharing this story for 3 reasons:
1 - It’s really therapeutic for me. It feels really good to get it out.
2 - I know I’m not the only kid who was ever made fun of because of his/her body/size/shape. If sharing my story touches just one person, lets them know they are not alone, and can help them begin their path to healing, then it has done what was intended.
3 - Maybe it will make someone think twice before body shaming another human being, and take a look inward to heal their own wounds.
My journey to becoming a life coach is not only about helping other people. It’s also helping me. There has been a ton of internal work going on behind the scenes in the last two years. I’m healing my inner child. Little Amy is still here. She’s with me, and she’s learning that it’s safe to come out and play.