Fit or Fat – they aren’t mutually exclusive (also, other ramblings)

I don’t remember exactly how old I was. I was probably six or seven years old, maybe eight at the most. I grew up in Burleigh on the Gold Coast, and in the mid 80s there was only one shopping centre nearby for your regular weekly shopping. I remember that there used to be a bookshop out the front of Woolies, which is where Mum used to do her weekly shopping.

I remember this one day fairly well, and it all came back to me last night. We had been to the shops and we must have wandered into the bookshop. There was a tape there, called “Fit or Fat”. I wanted it. No, I needed to have it. I begged Mum to buy it for me (remember, I’m under eight). She tried to dissuade me, telling me that it wasn’t going to help me not be fat any more. Eventually she relented (I was a hyperactive child, so it was probably just easier for a cheap audiotape).

There I was, a child, knowing that it was wrong to be fat and that I needed something to help me be fit. I was defective, I was ugly and I wanted out. I have tears welling up remembering that day, and how… sad isn’t strong enough, but how sad it is that such a young boy felt the need to be different. I felt so uncomfortable in my body and so unhappy.

I started weight watchers when I was in Year 7 at school. I lost weight too, by eating celery sticks with peanut butter, or Weet Bix with Vegemite. This was before the points system, where I was required to count the number of serves of protien, vegetable, fat, etc that I had eaten. I was weighed, just like the rest of the adults, and went to the meetings. Oh how horrible it all was, looking back on it.

That wasn’t my last foray with Weight Watchers. I think it was in 1999/2000. Actually yes it was. I lost 20kgs. I went to the shops one day at Australia Fair and I remember standing out the front of K-Mart and ringing my Mum excitedly (My mum and I are very close). “I can fit! I can fit into an XL!!!” I was so excited and happy.

Forever since then I dreamed of fitting back into an XL. An XXL would have been ok, because at least I could shop at some normal shops.

I’d love to write “Oh and now I’m just awesome and never get depressed by this” but I think it’s important that I say that I’m not there yet, not all the time. Many days I’m just happy to be who I am, but some days are harder than others. I think that’s normal for anyone, no matter their size. You find your “issues” and get depressed about them, but then get over it and grow.

Ugh, that sounded almost like a self-help guru. Save me.

I got off point, which is good. It means I wrote what came to me, not what I planned. I had meant to play around with the title of the audio tape, and say that being Fit and Fat is possible. Well, I’ve done that, but I think I’ll get into it more another day.

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  • Frances

    I realised not too long ago that I went on my first diet when I was 10. I remember I told my mum that I was on a diet so she had to pack me these sad salads for lunch everyday. I would weigh myself and get really frustrated/disappointed/sad when I gained weight. Of course I was gaining weight – I was 10 years old. I was growing. I was a child and I hated how I looked. You're quite right; 'sad' is not a great enough word for it.

    It's also good to put out there that we all have our bad days. I think the difference is that now you (and I) don't let these bad days get us down, because we recognise that our bad thoughts are not fact and that our bad feelings are just temporary.

  • nitrojane

    Kids shouldn't have to deal with societally induced self-loathing. Or any loathing for that matter, but you get what i mean. At least you realise your sheer awesomeness now, though!

  • Kath

    I too have my days where I struggle with my self esteem and body issues. But I guess now the difference is that I just recognise them as crud days and do my best to get through them as best as I can. It is easier now than it used to be, that's for sure.

  • Lauren

    I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting when I was 10 years old. All I wanted to do was fit into this one very pretty dress my mother had bought me as incentive to lose weight. I'm 21 now. I still have that dress and I'm still fat.

    I'm still learning to love myself unconditionally for who I am. It's hard. When I feel myself sliding into a rut, I now have this wonderful fat-o-sphere community to turn to.

  • Kath

    Lauren I say you sell that dress on eBay, take the money and buy yourself an outfit that fits you perfectly, makes you feel fabulous and looks HOT! And celebrate you as you are right now.

  • Lauren

    That sounds like an amazing idea. I was just complaining how I wish I had a little bit more cash to indulge in some new fashions.

    Guess I know what tomorrow's project is then. :D

  • Nicholas Perkins

    Sheer awesomeness is totally my thing these days. That and total awesomeness.

  • Nicholas Perkins

    Yup, I totally agree. It is a shame that people are told “You feel bad, AND YOU SHOULD!” rather than being supported.

    I think kids should be supported in finding things that they enjoy doing, like going running, playing sport and just generally being kids. Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig is not generally being a kid. If an active child is fat but happy and healthy, leave them be.

  • Nicholas Perkins

    It always takes time, and you just have to get through it a day at a time, as the cliché goes.

  • Nicholas Perkins

    Yeah I totally agree with Kath here. Sell the dress and buy a new one that fits, or something else that suits your body type.

    Love yourself for who you are now, not who you (or friends, or society) think you should be. The number of days we have to enjoy this are too short to miss out on just a few by thinking we aren't worth it.

  • nycivan

    So glad to see more male voices on the fatosphere. Looking forward to National convention for Naafa and ASDAH this weekend. Hopefully we can create an alliance of men in the movement.



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