Being constantly attacked and laughed at was a major part of my school life. What else can you expect when you’re young, overweight and surrounded by immature teens? Just don’t listen to them right? – If it only would have been that easy.
Before I start going into depth let me clear one thing up first: No, you don’t have to be fat in order to become a better person, but if you’re a bullying moron, you should maybe try it out some time. I wish you good luck with that.
How being a fat kid at school almost destroyed me
What I had to go through
When I was born, fate must have been played fat-kid-roulette or something and chose me as their winner: Congratulations! You won the fat-kid lottery. Have fun the next few school years! So yeah, when I was younger I was overweight. Not just a bit. I carried around quite some weight with me and going to school like that didn’t really help. It actually made things worse. People hated me for no reason and obviously thought the best way of expressing that hate was to tell me as often as possible how disgusting and ugly I am.
I recall one bright shiny afternoon. School was over, I headed out through the backdoor and I was in very good spirits. The day had been perfect so far. Suddenly, a random guy that I’ve never talked to nor even seen before was rushing out of the building and quickly overtook me. “Fat bitch”, he said angrily and gone he was. That must have been the only good thing he could think of while seeing me peacefully going my way. Because, let’s be honest, somebody had to finally tell me how fat I actually am. How could I have possibly come to that conclusion myself?
Religious education was also always a lot of fun for me. Watch out! Irony! We had to switch classrooms and one day I happened to sit on a chair of another random guy who also had to switch to classrooms. While he was still there, I saw his free chair and grabbed it before he left for his own class. He noticed, furiously turned around and pulled the chair away from me. How can a FAT GIRL even think about sitting in the same chair as him? Well to be honest I don’t really know what his problem was, but I guess he was scared that I would leave an ugly grease stain if I would only touch his chair, not to mention what could happen if I actually SIT on it.
These and several other things happened to me almost on a daily basis. I was called fat, ugly, disgusting, a bitch, a slut and I’m sure, whatever comes to your mind, they must have called me that as well.
At least I got a lot of attention right? And the best thing is I didn’t even have to do anything in order to deserve that. I just had to be around, starring one second to long on the ground making myself vulnerable… looking at somebody or just simply being too fat around “cool” people. What a life!
What all of that did to me
I guess its common sense that hearing these “kind” words of classmates day by day made me extremely sad. I started loathing and fearing people at the same time as well as hating myself. I was deeply depressed and anxious every single day.
Teachers were no help at all. They didn’t see it – or maybe they just didn’t want to see it – although it was pretty obvious. So staring at the ground was the main thing I did. Especially when I was walking to school, back home or in town in the afternoon. Just don’t look at anybody, don’t make them angry, don’t make yourself vulnerable to them. Just be invisible and everything will be fine. I will tell you later that this is actually the worst thing you can do, so stay tuned! But I had no idea back then.
I was overly conscious of how I sat on my chair, my arms desperately trying to hide my body, I adjusted my shirt roughly 10 million times a day, so that it doesn’t look ugly on me, I always knew exactly who looked at me at the moment and who talked about me behind my back. I was overweight and all I wanted was not to be hated for that reason.
How being overweight taught me important life lessons
If people tell you on a daily basis that you’re an ugly fat bitch or you have to listen to their constant laughter behind your back, you start trying to shut your ears at some point. Not that it really works. I could still hear them and it hurt just as much as before. What really happened – and what I only realized later – is that by “trying not to listen” you build up something like a protecting shell around yourself. It’s not bulletproof, but it helps you for the time being.
With this “shell”, whenever somebody tried to bring me down, I felt like being in another dimension. I could almost completely erase the person out of my vision and their words would sound to me like yelled through thick glass walls.
I also knew that whatever happens I never want to become a person like that. A person who looks down on others and laughs about their weaknesses. So these years made an incredibly tolerant person out of me and I give my best to try to understand a person first before judging them. I don’t care if somebody is too slim or overweight, Black, Caucasian, Asian or Middle-Oriental, gay or heterosexual as long as their beliefs and actions don’t cause any harm to humans or other sentient beings.
I learned not to give too much of a shit if someone judges me. Constructive criticism can be helpful, but if the words that come out of your opponent’s mouth are just a reflection of their dark, sad and injured soul, just don’t pay too much attention to them. It’s really more about their own problems in life than about you. Maybe they have to go back to an abusive family every afternoon or they try to cope with other struggles that makes them feel miserable.
One of the most important lessons I learned though is to literally “look up”. What I mean by that? Don’t ever make the mistake that I did and look down on the ground when walking outside. I did that as I mentioned earlier. Every time a person who kind of “looked like a bully” walked towards me, I looked on the ground and by all means avoided eye contact. A lot of people who are in the same situation think, that this makes them kind of “invisible” since you don’t offer them anything to complain about. Exactly the opposite is true! By avoiding somebodies eye you make yourself vulnerable and provide them with a target they can easily attack.
Make a game out if it! I’m not kidding. From now on, look every single person in the eye that walks towards you on the street. Hold that gaze for a while, but don’t stare them to death. Just show them that you’ve noticed them, that you are strong and confident and that nobody fucks with you. It works. I give you my word on that.
How I can be a better person now
All of my experiences in these teenage years were horrible and I still have countless marks left that have to heal with time. But it’s really as they say: Every bad thing has its good side.
I have the opportunity now to talk about this openly. I can help people who are in the exact same situation as I was years ago. I would never judge them, I would try to educate them. I would open their eyes and take away their fears – at least a little bit. Of course I’m not a magician that can use his power to magically remove all bullies from this planet nor instantly make them understand how destructive their behavior for the victims really is.
But I can be a good person and be there for them. May it be in person or online, via a blog post like this or a talk in real life. I want to give them the love they deserve. I want to make them feel valuable and appreciated just as they are.
That’s what they need. In fact, that’s what everybody on this planet needs in order to prevent things like this from happening in the first place.
I want to finish off with a quote from Hank Green, one of my favorite people on earth. He once said the following:
“At LeakyCon, a young lady asked me how I dealt with bullying. I wasn’t able to give her a very good answer, which troubles me. Well, there were lots of shouts of “It gets better” and “Stay strong” and “We love you”. But when I put myself back in time to when I was being bullied, none of those things would’ve helped me. Yes, absolutely it does get better. But when you are being physically and psychologically tortured, it is difficult to remove yourself from the pressingness of the moment at hand. Here’s how I dealt with bullying: I cried, I hated myself, I hated my life. I didn’t deal with it, I survived it, but I never dealt with it. So here are two tips from someone with lots of experience. 1: It’s not about you, it has nothing to do with you, it’s about the assholes doing it to you. 2: Your job is not to deal with it, your job is to survive it, which you CAN do because it WILL end. And then yes, it will get better.”
— Hank Green