I was an average sized infant. And an average sized toddler. But by the time I was ready for kindergarten I had blossomed into quite the chubby little flower. As amazing of a memory as I have I do not remember exactly when it started to happen. I know that part of it was due to teasing. Hear me out.
At the dinner table my dad would often grab food from my plate or distract me and then steal my food. This led to a healthy fear of my food being taken away and a desire to consume my food promptly, so as not to give anyone the chance to make a move. I also think that being the first born, my parents weren’t too sure about exactly what they were doing. There may have been some missed opportunities to tell their little one no. Again, it is all a bit fuzzy.
By the time I was in first grade I had developed a habit of sneaking food. Let me elaborate. My parents divorced, and my mom met her new beau. He was a little stricter and actually helped my mom start to put her foot down. The new restrictions provided the opportunity for me to break the rules. That was not only thrilling, but then the treats were so satisfying. It also provided a way to rebel and act out after the split. Who knows what was going thru my little mind, but there wasn’t a day I didn’t sneak something I shouldn’t have. And not just junk food, because they stopped buying that. It was a compulsion and if there were no chips or cookies I would find something to consume. At the same time I managed to overeat at school. I would often finish my best friend’s lunch for him, in essence eating all the stuff he didn’t want as well as my own. Needless to say, by age eight I weight in somewhere around eighty-five pounds.
The rest of my youth was marked by being made fun, continuing to sneak food, and struggling with my weight. I exercised (played sports, went on family walks, etc.) but that was no match for my secret snacking.
Growing up in Southern California I couldn’t avoid the pool and the beach (nor would I want to), but it was always with trepidation and insecurities in the back of my mind. In fact, I almost didn’t go to the end of sixth graded beach party for fear of being made fun of. I am one of those lucky individuals who happen to store fat in the breast region. For as long as I can remember I have had breasts. Once I was told by a classmate to “get a bra,” actually similar remarks have been made on more than one occasion along with the usual playground name-calling. There is nothing else that has been so detrimental to my self-esteem as my breasts. It is so difficult to feel masculine, and to know that that is one of the first things people notice. At least once per day I am consciously self-conscious about them.
Throughout elementary school I always had one or two close friends (of course I got along well with the girls too) who I had sleep-overs with, went to the movies with, played with after school, and all the typical things one thinks of as part of childhood. Thankfully I wasn’t alone all the time and didn’t become a loner who was depressed, which would only lead to more eating. I don’t know that I would have made it out of that kind of thing alive.