Taunting. Bullying. Teasing. It doesn't matter the terminology of choice, it has an effect on a person. All of my life I have been taunted for my weight. I don't remember when it started. I suppose it began so early in my life that I couldn't pinpoint the first nasty comment or how it made me feel. I simply recall growing up with it. I also couldn't tell you if it hurt my feelings to the point of tears often or not. I do remember one day, I was about thirteen, walking home from school and a group of kids were behind me making nasty comments and throwing fist sized rocks at me. Carrying my backpack and my instrument, and being out of shape, I knew I couldn't run that mile home. I do recall walking as fast as I could and being afraid that they would take things to the next level and start beating me up physically. I had large welts and bruises on my legs from those rocks, and the entire time it was happening, those kids made comments about my weight, and laughed. They were all between 1-3 years older than me.
I also recall one of the security guards of my middle school, the following year, asking me if I had recently been in an altercation with one of the girls-- I remember her name beginning with a T, so that's what we'll go with for blogging purposes.
T and I had never spoken. To me she looked like a bitch, but never did I voice that, nor did I give her reason to believe I disliked her. I never bothered to even try being her friend. I was happy enough in my circle of friends. I wasn't popular by the definition of all the guys wanting me and all the girls wanting to be me, but I was popular enough that everybody knew who I was and the type of person I was. I pretty much got along with everybody, and regardless of what my social status was, I was always kind to the outcasts.
When I told the guard I didn't have any issues with T that I was aware of, she brought me to one of the restrooms on campus where I saw graffiti all over. Horrible things, with my name- first and last. No mistaking this was about me. I was a fat bitch. I needed to die. The world hates fat bitches like me. The world would be better off without people like me. T had been caught by this guard as she vandalized this bathroom with my name and insults, so she couldn't exactly deny it. And for that, in T's mind, I was at fault. Somehow, for some reason, she had a hatred so strong for me that she was compelled to vandalize part of our school, and in her mind I was at fault. Was I at fault because what she wrote was about me and she was caught? I have no idea, but it was evident from then on out that she had it out for me, and that's when the rumors began. I won't bother to get into the rumors because they never held any water. People knew better, so I didn't care.
High school wasn't too terrible, but I also did not attend the public high school. The group of kids that taunted me and threw rocks at me were at that school, and I was afraid of having to deal with them- again. Next to that, the high school didn't have a good track record, so I was homeschooled and graduated two years ahead of 'schedule'.
Though it's never been as easy for me as it has my thinner friends, I've had plenty of guys interested in me. I've dated plenty, been in committed relationships- even if in reality that commitment was very one sided. Not until I reached obesity did it become difficult. Not impossible, mind you, but much more difficult than before. I reached obesity after having my son. I gained so much weight during my pregnancy because I used the excuse that I was pregnant and should be able to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. After I delivered my son, I stayed eating crap whenever I wanted. It had become a habit.
I 'lost' a lot of my friends when I became a mom. We lived in such a small town and if you were still in that town, and you weren't on drugs, you definitely didn't belong there. I didn't belong there. I spent all my time working or with my son, so for any social interaction I turned to online forums. Until this, I never realized how mean people could be.
I was treated horribly. Honestly, the words of these 'adults' hurt me to my core more than anything else I've ever been told or had done to me. It was different when I was treated horribly growing up. Those were kids. Adults couldn't be that bad, could they? I learned they could. Because of this, I went through a lot of rough patches. I went through one span of time in 2008 where I stayed home for three months straight. I was still getting paid for my work even though I wasn't showing up; I didn't leave the house unless it was to go shopping, and for that I went to the 24 hour Wal Mart late at night. I was ashamed of myself. I was ashamed of bringing a child into my world. What kind of life is my child going to endure because of his mother's weight?
I'm not sure how I snapped out of it, but one day I changed. I became colder, harder, less caring. I learned the soft spots of the very people who made me feel so worthless and alone, and I retaliated. I said horrible things to them, put them in their places, and left the forum. I didn't join another internet forum until two years later. Funny side note- I recently got a FaceBook friend's request from one of the very people who tormented me online. I responded that she was a filthy cunt to me and no way in my right mind would I ever want to be her friend. She merely responded with 'ok'. I think the lack of apology shows she hasn't changed much, but my comment to her felt so good.
With everything I've been through, it's caused a lot of problems. I missed high school. Prom, graduating with my friends. I became a hermit, and in that process wasn't the best mother for a few months. I was depressed and ashamed. But here I am, almost 25, and a friend recently told me something that literally brought tears to my eyes. 'You have skin of steel.' And I do. It's so true. And it's what brought this blog on. Well- partially. Part two will make an appearance soon.
But the truth is, nothing really bothers me anymore. I can get irritated. Pissed even. But it takes so much to get me there. And to hurt my feelings, bring tears to my eyes, is almost an impossible task now. I'm kind to others, but when others aren't so kind to me, it doesn't get to me anymore. I realize now that many times taunting comes from a person's own insecurities and worst fears.
Take for instance the play 'Fat Pig', written by Neil LaBute, in which Tom meets Helen, a very large woman, while he is of average build. He falls in love with her, though he has never before been attracted to an overweight woman. He falls in love with Helen for the person she is. Though a bit insecure, she has a fabulous sense of humor and seems to be an overall wonderful person. Carter, Tom's coworker and 'friend' teases Tom for his interest and relationship with Helen. Nearing the end of the play Carter is talking to Tom and tells him something that sticks with me.
People are not comfortable with difference. You know? Fags, retards, cripples. Fat people. Old folks, even. They scare us or something.
The thing they represent that's so scary is what we COULD be, how vulnerable we all are. I mean, ANY of us. Some wrong gene splice, a bad backflip off the trampoline... too many cartons of Oreos! We're all just one step away from being what frightens us. What we despise. So... we despise it when we see it in anybody else.
How true is this all, really? I'm not sure, because I personally do not have this issue. I've never been afraid of becoming old, or ending up with a disability. Do I want these things? Of course not, but I'm not afraid of them. I'm already fat, so I suppose I cannot be afraid of that. But I do believe that there are some people that this could be said of. They aren't confident or comfortable with the person they are, and so they cannot be comfortable with others of difference.
That doesn't make it all okay. Taunting others, thinking less of them, for their differences, it really hurts people. Suicide over taunting happens much more often than you see and hear in the media. We hear about it from time to time, but the true numbers are much higher than you hear about. Suicide isn't only something for teenagers either. Children as young at seven have committed suicide over the torment they've endured. Adults of various ages have felt the need to kill themselves because they felt there was no other way.
We don't live in a wonderful society. All around us we're pressured to be perfect. We shouldn't be chasing this delusion of physical perfection and in turn fear what we do not see as perfection. Instead, we should be chasing a moral character. A character in which you and those around you can look up to and want to carry on for themselves. Shouldn't we all want to be accepting and kind, not fearful and mean?