The author of this post has asked to remain anonymous.
I was a fat kid. I am a fat adult. While I still remember the hell of childhood I am no longer haunted by the torment I endured.
I am 38 years-old and have spent my entire adult life actively retraining my brain to think differently about myself. When I was growing up lots of young teen girls got prank called, a rite of passage, even in some cases, a badge of honor. However, I got the calls of “I want to rape you, fat girl.” This is one specific incident that I share here. It is neither the least significant nor the most damaging that occurred during my childhood.
I could not share my pain with anyone. The shame I carried was heavier than the extra weight I actually wore. I was so alone. I was so sad. I was so powerless. Yet, I was a good student. I was an artist. I was an athlete. I was a journalist. I was a club member. I had close friends. But I was a target, too.
For a specific type of kid I was fair game for open ridicule, rude remarks, and physical threats. My external demeanor was positive, friendly, and happy. My internal world was dark, fearful, and damaged. I wished to die.
Insomnia and depression became the norm. Every day, and I do mean every day, I would wake with the sense of fear knowing I would have to put on my smile and endure.
Today I jump out of bed excited by the possibilities of the day. I am an elementary school teacher. School was the scene of the majority of my pain, heartache, panic, and fear. I have returned there and spend my life, hopefully, as an agent of change.
Fat kids, ugly kids, clumsy kids, gay kids, black kids, Muslim kids, handicapped kids, dumb kids, dirty kids, poor kids,…take away the judgment and they’re all kids. I have a classroom where we work on the ideas of compassion, acceptance, and responsibility to one another every day. We sing Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” and have a code of “Three Little Words”-I love you, You are wonderful, Are you okay? Can I help? Etc… Some students arrive the first day of school already fearful and damaged-they are the bullied and the bullies. All children on both sides of this issue need support. Education about bullying must start at home and it must start early.