For most fat kids, growing up wasn't easy. There was teasing and bullying, insecurity and inferiority complexes. It was a dramatic time to be a pre-adolescent.
Now, reflecting back on that fat-kid lifestyle, I can step back and laugh about the things only former fat kids can understand:
Being the funniest kid in class
If you were fat as a kid, you had two options: You could either use humor or kindness as a defense mechanism.
If you made fun of your size before someone else did, bullies didn’t like that. Sometimes, you wouldn’t even have to make jokes about being fat — you could just make jokes in general.
Fat kids had years of practicing to be stand-up comedians. Every insecurity was new material. So, as an adult, if you ever meet someone who is funny, he or she was probably fat as a kid.
Dreading the mile
I hated Fridays from sixth to ninth grade. As PE class approached, I could feel my heart beating faster and my anxiety building up.
Not only did I hate running because it was hard, I also hated it because it was embarrassing. It was all about hard breathing, other students flying by me and my best efforts only yielding F's.
What was the point of running? I was a straight-A student and would consistently get an A- in PE, sometimes even a B+. PE was ruining my GPA, which caused me to hate the mile even more.
It wasn’t until the eighth grade I realized I could walk the mile faster than I could run it. I don’t know if that was a sad or happy realization.
Using kindness as a safety precaution
As previously mentioned, if you weren’t the funny fat kid, you were probably the nice fat kid. You could have also been the bully fat kid, but those are more rare.
When I saw fat kids making fun of fit kids, I was always perplexed and slightly impressed. How did they get away with that?
Anyway, back to nice fat kids. I was a nice fat kid. I was so nice to everyone because I figured if I was nice, there would be no reason for kids to be mean. I befriended everyone, complimented everyone and basically became a huge pushover.
For the most part, it worked; I made it through all of elementary, middle and high school without being called fat more than once or twice (to my face, at least).
In elementary school, my friends were wearing cute jean shorts and overalls while I had stretch shorts. At first, my family successfully trained me to think they were cool.
My grandma made them all with the sewing machine and I got to pick out the fabrics. So, in my mind, it had nothing to do with being fat; I just had cutting-edge fashion. Really, it was because kid’s clothes fit me too tight and I needed special stretchy waistbands.
The feeling of finding a pair of jeans that looked good
I remember in middle school, all clothes were tight on me. Muffin tops were common, and I rarely felt cute. I was so thankful when those swishy sweatpants were in style because they fit me. Going shopping and trying on clothes was hell.
Finding a cute pair of pants or a stylish skirt, then going to the fitting room and not being able to get them over your thighs was a horrible feeling, too. Having your mom bring you clothes from the women’s section when you are 12 years old is awful.
So, when you find a cute pair of jeans in your unfortunately large size that actually look good, it is like the heavens opened up and the world is in your favor. For once, you feel like you can kind of fit in. As long as nobody finds out the size, that is.
Overhearing the word “phat” and thinking somebody was calling you “fat”
I hated the time period when “phat” was a thing. The word was being thrown around everywhere and I never knew whether someone was talking about me.
My eavesdropping skills got good during that time because I had to learn to decipher when I should be offended.
The middle school dance
Showing up with all your skinny friends. Ugh. All your skinny friends getting asked to dance. Ugh, times two. Your skinny friends then asking the okay-looking fat boy if he wanted to dance with you. Ugh, times three.
Then dancing with that other fat kid, who smells terrible, and wondering if everyone around is just thinking of a zillion fat jokes... the worst.
There were many times when I was annoyed with my skinny friends, like when they ate ice cream and Airheads for lunch or when they complained about being “fat” at a size 4. Or, when the boy I liked, instead, liked them.
When they could do things like wear overalls and not look like men; watching their boyfriends pick them up playfully. When they could all share clothes with each other, but not you. When they tried to say you weren’t fat. When they tried to make you feel better about yourself, but just made you feel worse.
Oh, those damn skinny friends.
Family members who encouraged your fatness
When I was a kid, I got such mixed messages about my weight. I knew I didn’t look like the other kids at school, but my family kept telling me to eat. Grandma would tell me to have another plate; Nana would fill me up with cookies, chocolate milk and ice cream.
My parents would try to limit me, but with a big family that, for the most part, has horrible habits, the junk food seemed unlimited.
Nobody wanted to stop me.
Extreme insecurity with the physical touch from the opposite sex
Having to partner up for square dancing in middle school PE was a nightmare.
I was petrified of having to make contact with a boy. He might accidentally touch my love handles and realize I didn’t just look fat, I really was fat.
No understanding of portion control
One of the reasons I was probably the fattest as a kid is because there was no such thing as portion control in my mind. If I wanted cereal, I filled up the bowl as high as I could. It was healthy cereal, so in my mind, I didn’t have to worry.
I don’t think I ever realized there were serving sizes until high school, when I started to try to lose weight. Before that, I thought the problem was the food, not how much of it I was eating.
Fat kid insecurity was at its worse during PE when teams had to be picked. Who wanted to pick the kid who couldn’t run the mile for the basketball team? Add in the fact that I was a girl, and it really made for a nightmare.
I hated standing there, hoping I would be picked before the super scrawny kid, or the even fatter kid, or the weird kid nobody liked.
Eating your favorite food like you will never have it again
When your favorite food was made, you made a point to eat as much of it as physically possible. You never knew when or if you would have it again. Food was an addiction; it made you feel better.
You never knew if one day soon, your parents would realize how fat you were and never allow you to eat delicious foods again. So, what did you do?
You ate every meal as if it were your last, which definitely didn't help.
Struggling to share food with your siblings and smuggling snacks into your secret stash
This is similar to eating as much of your favorite foods as possible.
As a former fat kid, I would hide food. When Kudos bars were popular, I would take them from our pantry and hide them in my room, backpack or the linen closet. I had them for those times when Mom said I couldn’t have a snack; I had them when I wanted more than one snack.
And, I had them just in case my parents decided to stop buy yummy snacks, and replaced them with a bunch of carrots.
Now that I am older, I have taken pride in my fat kid days. I am not ashamed of it because it truly helped to form who I am today.
Yes, I am still overweight, but closer to a “normal” size and definitely more confident. There are just certain things that us, fat kids, can never forget.
To this day, I have to consciously think about not overeating my favorite foods; it's a childhood instinct, really. I am still horrible at taking compliments because I was so used to having my guard up as a child. I still love wearing leggings because of the stretchy waistbands.
I still hate sharing food with my older sister because it feels like a competition to eat faster so I get more.
But, these fat kid habits aren’t all bad. On the bright side, being the fat kid gave me a sense of humor, and it's the best defense mechanism. Since I was judged so many times for being fat, I try to see the best in everyone.
I can laugh at myself and my weight because I finally know it does not define me. #FatKid4Life