The Fat Kid.

I woke up today with my brain eating at me over my weight.  So I woke up, took Michaelyn to school, and went about controlling my environment.  Then I came across this article by Wes Fenza at Polyskeptic.  He talks about growing up as a fat kid and what went through his mind:

Remember how I said that my 5th grade girlfriend ended up being important to me? That’s this part of the story. That “relationship” was probably the only thing that kept me from feeling like a complete loser throughout middle school. As with most adolescent boys, I was obsessed with girls, not only because I had strange new desires, but also because I wanted to be a person with a girlfriend. Somewhere along the line, I internalized the idea that having a girlfriend was the most important thing a person could do to be worthwhile. The longer I spent single, the more pathetic I felt. The only thing staving off complete despair was the fact that I had a girlfriend and one point in my life, so clearly I wasn’t completely worthless to girls.

Except, really, I always knew I wasn’t completely worthless to girls. Girls liked me. I had a number of female friends, and I tended to get along well with girls in general. There was only one part of me that was worthless to girls – my body. No matter how much of a connection I formed with a girl, she would be repulsed at the idea of touching me on any level beyond a friendly hug. My body was disgusting to girls. Sometimes, they would tell me so. Most of the time, they would give me one of those so-called “polite” rejections, e.g. “I just don’t feel that way about you,” or “I don’t have time to date right now,” or “I’m busy on [every evening you ask me out].”

Wes is a better man than I.  I met him at the PA Atheist/Humanist Conference and he’s extremely nice and equally upbeat.  My obesity carried with me through college and I let it make me bitter at the world.  Most people are shallow to one extent or another.  It’s not like we choose this, it’s part of our biology.  If intellect or compassion were as enticing to most people as particular physical attributes then pornography would look very different.  I’m not saying that values like kindness or passion or intellect are irrelevant, but when you’re fat it really seems to you like they don’t mean anything unless you first have an ideal body.

It fucks with your head, and in my case I came to hate the world so much that I stopped going into it.  When you’re fat your world becomes a symphony of well-meaning lies:

“You’ll find someone who loves you for you.”  What you hear is “Someone will have lower standards for physical perfection in a partner than I.”

And once you get diagnosed with hallucinations, once you know you’re not seeing the world clearly with regards to anything regarding your weight, you wonder how much of it is them and how much of it is you.  To this day I’ve never really known.

Anyway, the article touched me.  Kudos to Wes.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Epinephrine

    Since it’s weight stigma awareness week, I’ll mention this:
    Being thin/small isn’t a picnic. Girls don’t think much of 80 pound 5’1″ guys, either. I identify with all the feelings Wes expresses, though instead I desperately wanted to be bigger, stronger, hairier (yeah, as a late blooming guy, needing to shave would have been welcome). I was an easy target, and frequently bullied (physically, verbally, emotionally). Fortunately, I was able to gain height (I’m tall now, but high school was miserable as the smallest kid until I was 16 or so), and eventually, weight (I had a BMI under 18.5 until I was about 20 years old. Going to the gym a lot just made me wiry. I hated it, friends would “bulk up”, and I would just stay at the same weight – 145 lbs and 6’1″.)
    You can hate your body as a thin person too. I got in fights, probably mostly out of a sort of Napoleon complex. I hated the word “skinny,” and tried to get people to use other terms (slim, slender – anything else, really). I didn’t have a girlfriend until I was an adult, had never kissed a girl. I’m finally mostly comfortable with myself, even thinking I am in pretty good shape (I finally started putting weight on in my late twenties- thirties), and now I get to watch my son go through the same things – smallest in his class, wearing clothes two sizes smaller than his classmates, coming home with bruises.