Wednesday, August 5, 2009

From Skinny to Fat Kid

When I was a child, I was thin up until about 4th grade. At that point in time, I'm guessing in part due to puberty heading down the path and preparing to start knocking on my door, I started to gain weight.

I can't remember which came first, but I also started to eat as comfort from the daily torment I received at school. This is one of those "chicken and the egg" questions. Did I get teased because I was fat or did I get fat because I was teased? I can say that the early content of the torment I received was based on my being an unsophisticated member of a poor family living in a remote area. The "townie" kids knew each other and didn't know me, but also word got around that my mother kept a lot of pets, many of which weren't housebroken and crapped all over the house. The irony is that the people who spread this information were likely my childhood "friends". They were the kids of my parents' friends who saw the house and spread the word.

At any rate, around age 10, I started to get fat. The strange thing is that getting fat correlated with marked academic improvement. In first grade, I barely passed and my report card was a series of C's, D's and a few F's. In second and third, I did a little better, but clearly recall struggling to deal with tests, especially in math. In 4th grade, I won contests for reading the most books and was one of the first kids to completely memorize the multiplication tables up to 12 x 12. My grades shot up to all A's.

The improvement in my grades is another of those "chicken and the egg" questions. Maybe I also got teased because I was smarter than I was. Maybe I dug into my studies because I was being ostracized and didn't have friends because I had gotten fat.

The point is that I didn't start off fat, but managed to get and stay there for quite some time. I barely remember the time before I was defined by my body size because it was such a relatively short part of my life. I do know that that was the beginning of not being treated as an equally worthy human being and that that lack of worth has stayed with me ever since.