Saturday, March 2, 2013

Natalie and Me

When I was a young fat girl, The Facts of Life was one of my favorite TV shows. I even recently watched a few of them, and it brought back some old days. I wished I got to live at their school even doing chores under the watchful caring eye of Mrs. Garrett.  Even to this day, while re-watching this show, I remember my thoughts at the time. Natalie, while overweight was accepted, loved and cared about by the others. Sure her Mom sent her off to boarding school and her father had died in the show's plot, but she was valued as a person and a human being. .

Some may ask what does this have to do with Natalie? Well I would watch the Facts of Life and saw this young vivacious fat girl with friends and people who loved and cared about her and thought, "Well this is a possible. That is how things are supposed to be". Yes I knew it was fiction but it at least gave me a ideal.

I also knew even as a young fat girl, that I should be valued as a human being despite what weight I was, which I already knew by an early age, my body was not working like other people's. I exercised constantly, rode my bicycle for miles, and still was fat. I also was facing other challenges and very negative messages around me. There was no one telling me I was a okay person. I would find supportive people later but did not have them at that time. So in a strange way, Facts of Life served as encouragement to me as a teenager. Maybe that's a bit cheesy but it's the truth. I liked all the other characters, Blair was my least favorite while I liked Tootie and "Jo" as well.

In a way it lifted some of the self blame for those around me who considered my weight as making me worthy of rejection. Natalie had best friends who cared about her. Now Natalie did lose weight as the show progressed, she was "smaller" then me but fat enough to have been considered the "fat girl" in the earliest seasons. Now TV shows even lighter ones of the 1980s were notorious for "short-hand" and even this one could approach the 'afterschool' specials kind of flavor but this show was encouraging to me. Today all the TV shows everyone is THIN, at least in the 1980's things were still more real.

Unknown Facts about Mindy Cohn

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