Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Torturous Teen Years

Kids are mean. I know that first hand. My number one memory of middle school involves two boys; Nick and Phil. They sat behind me in English class. Any time I had to get up and walk to the front of the class they would say "Look out, here comes freight train." Yup, freight train. That was their nickname for me b/c of my size. In middle school I was probably a size 16, not huge by any means but large enough for Nick and Phil to have a target. I hated English. To this day I remember the way they looked, their first and last name's and the sounds of their voices. Each day was torture.

Middle school graduation. All of my friends were so excited. There was even a dance after. My mom took me shopping to buy a dress. Nothing fit. I ended up at Lane Bryant and with a one piece shorts romper covered in horrific flowers. It was the least offensive, believe it or not. I saw it in my mother's face that day while we were shopping; the panic that nothing was fitting, that we would not be able to find anything. I saw the worry that she knew it was upsetting me. I tried to make the best of it and proclaimed that I loved the romper, it was perfect! Inside I was crying. All of the other girls in my class wore cute dresses and looked great. I looked like an oompah loompah.

Freshman year of high school I was in the marching band (yup, I was a band geek). We were a competitive marching band and pretty darn good!! We even went to Disney and marched in the Main St. parade. The summer before freshman year I was informed of a day and time to come to the school and get fitted for a band uniform. Panic struck. Someone was going to know my real size, see how big I really was. Did they have a uniform big enough for me? The dreaded day came and I went. The older band members helping with fittings that day were mostly great and it went pretty well, except........you guessed it....nothing really fit. There were already a few members of the band that were on the larger size and all the uniforms left were small. I got a pair of pants that fit well but I had to squeeze myself into a jacket for every show. I couldn't even sit with it zipped. I looked like a marshmallow stuffed into a smore. I was oozing out all over the place. I hated the uniform, dreaded every time I had to put it on and had to watch what I ate the entire year so the damn uniform would still fit. Maroon and gold still makes me cringe.

Every look, every whisper, every little laugh was always directed at me in my mind. All through middle school and high school I was paranoid. I didn't raise my hand in class b/c I didn't want to draw attention to myself, didn't get up during class to use the bathroom, and if I had to make a presentation in front of the class I nearly died. My heart would race, my palms would sweat and I would feel like I was going to throw up. All of that because the thought of putting my body on display in front of my peers was horrifying. Would they notice my stomach roll? Would they see me sweating and say it was because I was so fat? Would they make fun of my clothes that even I hated? Graduating from high school and, even after, college was liberating for me.

I missed out on a lot. I didn't socialize much, I had a few good friends and that was that. I almost always had a boyfriend. For me, having a boyfriend meant that I couldn't be that disgusting. There was actually someone out there who found me attractive and loved me. The times when I was single I spiraled into depression and thought so little of myself it was scary. No one loved me, no one wanted me, I was gross.

I have come a long way. I know that not everyone judges me by my weight. I know that inside this body I am a great person. Sadly, there's still a little bit of that teenage girl in there so scared and self conscious. I think there always will be.


  1. You go, girl. This is tough shit to work through. It may take a lifetime, but I think the more we think/talk about body image the better off we are. I've been watching Big Love lately and told Lee that the one thing missing from the show is body image crisis. There are three wives to this one guy and no one is worried about cellulite or fat? Sure their all TV beautiful, but they are supposed to be human, aren't they?

    Also, one thing I've learned from years on Weight Watchers is that water really does help fill you. I get tired of drinking it and try to spice it up with Crystal Light or tea or whatever, but I find when I consistently drink water, I do feel fuller. It's no substitute for a pizza though.

  2. Colleen this made me teary.. its crazy to read this stuff.. because to me u seem so confident and sure of yourself... wow..you are working through so much.:)Jenny

  3. Aw, it made me teary too. I am so glad to get it out though, that's a huge step for me. Thanks for saying I seem so confident, I am so not confident. It's nice to hear I am putting on a good show though :)