Saturday, May 7, 2011

My Life As a Fat Teen #2

From seventh to tenth grade, I suffered a reverse invisibility. I wasn't deemed fat enough to warrant my previous diet of elementary school torture, but I wanted no one's attention, and did little to attract it and I still remained fat enough to be DIFFERENT from all the ultra-thin lithe girls around me. I rarely spoke and always sat in the back, as long as there wasn't a seating chart to ruin my best intentions.

I felt my residual bottled-up anger would take time do dissipate. Try delivering a speech before a class notorious for making earthquake noises as you'd walk up there: by eight grade, I'd take the F and stay in my seat.

Better yet, try walking onstage to collect an award for tackling the most books in the summer reading program, with the entire school jeering, and laughing at once: what you feel goes beyond all academic study. Like many teens, I was sensitive to the constant scrutiny, especially when I started high school. The halls would close in as I took stock of the jeering faces, pointing fingers, and whispered words. I'd seek refuse in the remote Science Hall bathroom, where I'd be guaranteed an hour of solitude reading a book.

Such disconnection suited me while sitting in the back with my nose in Stephen King's [books I cannot tolerate now] latest novel, having finished all my homework before the day ended. From there, I'd look forward to afternoons of television and never ending household chores from my perfectionist parents. When I turned 16, the endless grind of salad girldom and fast food work which did more to train me to be a future member of the impoverished working class, rather then learning any real job skills, at least gave me a bit of spending money. The music I listened to was rot as well, a headbangers ball, of AC/DC and Def Leppard, that would pave the way for even darker and worse music tastes by college with a little bit of Duran Duran to lighten things up.

Other times, I'd be riding my bike, or reading or collecting stickers which my sister with whom I shared a bedroom. I could handle being an outcast since I had two siblings only a year apart in age each and jobs that filled my time.

By mid-high school, I weighed in the low to mid 200s and stood almost 6 feet tall. Being so large and invisible had a price. I soon learned unlike the small private school where I went to elementary, I no longer even had the couple close friends to pass my time.

For openers we moved from a huge metro city, to a more medium town, where everyone had been born there, and been together in school from kindergarten on. My siblings still hung out with me but their company seemed to come more cheaply and dearly as my new "nerd" status reached greater heights.

One horrible joke in my high school would be the boys comparing girls to dogs as they walked down the hall. I didn't have an ugly face, but was fat enough to earn barks, as I walked to class. It didn't take a rock scientists that especially by the halcyon days of the 1980s, that looks were the female sex's hottest currency: instead of Harriet the Spy Adventures, I'd find myself overtaken by Sweet Valley High nightmares.

In late junior high school I approached one of my other "Fat" classmates only to have her yell: "Get away from me!". Years later, I'd see her red-haired, freckled face in a magazine, talking about those teenage battles with anorexia.

As a first hand witness to her constant teasing, I wasn't surprised but wondered "What was wrong with me"? I couldn't walk into a classroom without someone trying to trip me, or muttering "boom, boom" under their breath. I knew by then, something was very wrong with me, and dieting, exercising since I spent literal hours on my bike, walking, and at the restaurants working on my feet, that nothing was doing anything to touch it.

When my weight went up, my treatment would go down accordingly, as my bowling partner, Stephanie, demonstrated, she'd hang out with me at home but pretend not to know me at school, even though our parents were friends. My sociosexual development slowed to a crawl. I had no interest in makeup or dating and by then had equated all boys with teasing tormentors. Even at 13, I knew things were more dangerous for fat girls who were seen as easy pickings.

I can remember having a full figured friend of my mother at a family pool party, saying "You better lose weight, or you'll never get a boyfriend." The message came at a pool party, where I sat forlorn and vulnerable in my bathing suit, with my mother nodding in agreement, I slunk my 14 year old self into the bathroom where I cried for half an hour and wondered aloud why the boys seemed so interested in having girls be so bony?

Periods of lower weight did not cut me a break in the looks department. When that happened, I no longer was called "earthquake or Big Mama" but they would switch over to "Amazon!". I had far more hair then other girls, was larger, more muscular and had more oily skin. Being taller, more masculinzed and more aggressive, results of the high androgens racing through my body, it would take almost 15 years to find out why my body did not match those of other high school girls when I discovered the realities of severe polycystic ovarian syndrome along with other endocrine problems. Dirty brown spots starting popping up all over my body, my mother would tell me constantly to wash my neck, not realizing this was a sympton of the hormonal chaos taking over my body. Even as a teen, my periods permanently disappeared, and there was no help. By then I had thought "good riddance to bad rubbish", the doctors never did any tests. They'd just send me home and say Diet!

It is strange to look back, and think if only I had known.....

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