As women, we are taught to hate our bodies from almost the time we are born. If a baby or young child is a little chubby, people fret that she may grow up to be fat. We police each other’s bodies and being fat is the ultimate body sin. If you are fat, I can pretty much guarantee that you are going to be bullied all the way through school. I know I was. It was relentless. It reached a fevered pitch in about grade 6. We were at a new school and I just didn’t get the kids there. There was a boy who would wait after school to beat me up, just for the sin of being fat. Luckily, I befriended a young mother close to the school who would watch out for me and let me come to her house. I can remember the terror I used to feel as I tried to get out of the school quickly before he realized I was gone. It might not have been as bad as it was if I had not had a mouth on me.
In grade 4, groups of kids would get together with the goal of surrounding me and assaulting me. I could not take the short route home as they would get me in the alley and I did not have the protection the street afforded. I can remember one day when I did not feel well and I thought I would just duck down the alley to go home. They got me. I didn’t tell anyone. I just tried to outsmart them.
When I was 14, I ended up at the Children’s shelter in Calgary. There was a group of girls who hated me because I was fat. One day, the biggest bully of them all got me in the front hall of the school. This time, I chose to fight back. I knocked her flat. I don’t remember what I did as I was in such a rage that I just lost it. None of them ever physically assaulted me again.
It wasn’t just the children that could be cruel. I don’t know how many times I heard: “You have such a pretty face,” or “You could lose some weight if you tried.” I would be have food rationed to me when I lived in care, lest I get even fatter. When I lived at home as a teenager, my step-father would weight me every morning and if I had not lost weight, I was beaten before I went to school. They also sent me to the doctor once a week to be weighed. All that taught me was how to forge notes. Even on their starvation diet, I didn’t lose weight. Then, one summer, they hired a woman who took me and me sister on forced marches. This was in addition to weekend and weeklong backpacking trips where we would hike anywhere from 4 to 12 miles per day. I would do that with a 35-pound pack on my back. This is why, to this day, I hate hiking; I hate going for a ‘walk.’
As a society we need to come to a place where it is ok to be in the body you have. For the sake of our women, young and old, we need to feed our bodies healthy food and love ourselves just the way we are. I often wonder what would happen if we stopped dieting and obsessing about our bodies. We would have so much more energy for more productive pursuits, like say, bringing down the patriarchy. This woman is so brave and really has it all figured out. Enjoy.
For some reason the video won’t embed unless I get an upgrade?