I don’t remember the first time someone called me fat. I just remember that it seemed like one day I was normal and the next I was fat. One time my great-grandmother was visiting. She took one look at me and said “C (my best friend) is skinny, K is fat.” I was devastated. C was skinny. Skinny and blonde. Even at that age I had always felt inferior to her. She was the beautiful skinny blonde who wasn’t afraid of anything while I was the quiet shy brunette who was now also a heifer. Another time my big brother called me fat. I remember it vividly. We were playing at our friends’ house when we had a disagreement about something. He called me fat and I ran into the bathroom crying. That night my mom tried to convince me that I wasn’t actually fat, that even the doctor had said I just had a bit of baby fat leftover. Her attempts to comfort me didn’t help. All I heard was the word “fat” and I didn’t comprehend what baby fat even meant. There were other instances. I remember a girl in my class who said that the ground shook every time I walked by. Another boy came up with some weird nickname that implied I was lazy (because only fat people are lazy, of course).
It was around this time that I really started comparing myself to everyone else. One of my worst experiences was in my grade 4 class. My teacher thought it would be a good idea to have some sort of project where she took down our weight and height and called it out loudly for one of my classmates to record. I have no idea what the purpose of the project was. I do remember the extreme shame and embarrassment I felt when she called out my weight. I don’t remember what number she called out because it was in kilograms but I know that at this age I was 120 pounds. I know that for sure because I was shocked when one of my friends (who was two years older than me) started complaining that she weighed 103 pounds. I kept quiet about my weight as she went on and on about how she was fat. I didn’t understand why I weighed so much more than everybody else. I felt like god was punishing me but I didn’t know for what. Strangely I never tried to diet. I mostly just hoped that I would lose weight just by willing it to melt away.
My weight never went down but by the time I reached 6th grade something interesting happened. My height caught up to my weight. I was still bigger than a lot of the other girls in class but I also had breasts and hips and was getting my period by age 11. Once again, however, I failed to realize that this was completely normal. By then I had it ingrained in my mind that I was fat and I would always be fat.