Day two of writing my face off.
Day 2: "The first time you were called fat. When was it, and how did it change your life?"
The first time I was called fat? Well, here's the thing about it. No one said it. It didn't take the word fat for me to hear that I was fat.
I was an unusually skinny child. I was a skeleton with skin and a massive head. It was kind of hilarious. A couple years ago a family friend who is like a second father to me was telling a story about me as a kid. He said, "and here comes this huge head on this little body. Brittany was all head." That sums up the first twelve years of my life. Then my body started to change.
Let's start with this. I was NOT fat. I was putting on weight because I was about to grow. You know, puberty and all that. I was probably 4'10" and weighed 80 pounds at most. BUT. I wasn't as skinny as my friend. And that's all it took.
So here's the scene. I'm all of twelve years old. It's the middle of summer and my friend who used to live in the neighborhood but had recently moved came to stay for the weekend. She was a few years younger than me. We were going outside to hang out and ride bikes with some neighborhood friends. Two brothers. One was her age, the other a year older than I was. I liked these boys. We had been friends for a few years and spent a lot of time together. Their opinions mattered to my twelve year-old self esteem. She suggested since it was hot we should wear bathing suits. I dug out my new floral two piece and pulled it on. I had a little extra fat around my tummy, but I didn't even think twice about it. I had always been skinny. She dug around in my drawer and chose a purple one piece to borrow. We grabbed our bikes and rode across the street. The older boy came out on their balcony and yelled down to us. I don't remember what he said. I do remember the gap of time between that moment and the moment he and his brother ran out of their garage. Those were my last moments of true confidence.
The boys came out of their garage, grabbed their bikes, and looked at us. And the older one (who I may have had a very slight crush on) said, "You should have let her wear the bikini. She's skinny. It would've looked better," and then laughed. It felt a lot like being slapped in the face. The way he looked at me. The way he said it. So casually. Like it was nothing. When inside I was breaking apart. I didn't cry. I didn't respond. I didn't act hurt. I ignored it and off we went. But it changed everything. It's been something like 17 years and I still remember what it felt like. It felt like being not good enough. It felt like being unwanted. It felt like the beginning of body image issues that would last years. It felt like the loss of my innocence.