Teen Week: Fatness, Weirdness & Other Stuff

When I heard about Medicinal Marzipan’s Teen Week, I felt conflicted immediately.  I wanted to write about what it was like for me as a teen.  I wanted to give amazing advice that I wish I’d heard back then.  But I also thought, does this mean I’m going to have to revisit that really difficult time in my life?

But I’m diving in, so here goes.

I was a pretty solid size 14/16 throughout high school, which, at time, I thought was immensely fat.  Looking back, I realize that a lot of my behavior was about deflecting attention from my fatness. I was funny and always made people laugh (if I didn’t have them laughing with me, they’d be laughing at me, right?).  I also put immense pressure on myself to have perfect grades, which I used to think was all about getting a full scholarship to college.  I realize now that this perfectionist tendency is really typical of people with disordered eating behaviors.  I had been on and off diets from a very young age, so my perception of my body was that it was wrong, bad, shameful etc.  When you feel ashamed of your desperately imperfect body, it would make sense that you would need validation through something else.  For me, it was being at the top of my class and being a leader in every extra-curricular activity that didn’t involve throwing a ball.

Good times. Me in the bathroom, senior year. :)

So I wanted to share some tips that I wish I had read back then.  I hope they’re helpful.

1) Being Perfect Is Overrated — Being perfect is not only overrated, it’s impossible.  And you don’t have to be really good at something to deflect attention from your body’s imperfections.  No one’s body is perfect.  No one’s.  Even models get airbrushed like crazy.  Rather than trying to be perfect, try the best you can to be happy.  Do the best you can to study what really interests you, to be around people who are fun and non-judgmental, to be a little different and weird if it’s what you want.  What’s different and weird in high school is often brilliant and creative when you’re older.

2) Take All Advice With Huge Grains Of Salt (including my advice) — A lot of people with varying levels of authority over you will pressure you to change your body.  One particular scary (and completely wrong) bit of advice that fat kids get is “If you continue to be fat, you’ll be dead by the time you’re __.”  That is complete and total bullshit. Your body, whatever shape or size it may be is not a ticking time bomb.  You have no designated expiration date stamped on your belly.  You’re body is truly fabulous and perfect (see above).  Treat it with love and you will do better than most.

3) Whatever You Do, Don’t Diet  –  I wrote a book with 25 reasons not to diet, and I had to cut down the list.  But in a nutshell, dieting sets you up for weight yo-yo-ing, crappy self esteem, obsessing about food, and general unhappiness.  Don’t start that cycle now.  If you already started it, consider just focusing on eating healthfully, enjoying your food, moving your body, and accepting your body.  This is the basis of a concept called Health At Every Size®, which is a wonderful and healing alternative to dieting, and is the basis of the work I do.

Please comment below and let me know if these tips are having an impact!

Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. Go to http://www.bodylovewellness.com/free to get her NEW free gift — Golda’s Top 5 Tips For Loving The Body You Have Right Now!

8 thoughts on “Teen Week: Fatness, Weirdness & Other Stuff

  1. I really wish I’d know this stuff when I was a teenager. I, too, was a size 14/16 in high school, and I fought it tooth and nail and had huge amounts of shame and self-hatred because of it, but no matter what I did, I was never able to lose any weight at all. I know now that that’s because my body was fine the size it was! I was extremely fit and active, and looking back, I looked fabulous too. It’s such a waste that I spent all that time feeling sure no one would ever love me because I wasn’t thin.

    But the most important thing I’d tell myself, if I could go back, would be to relax and try to reach out to people more. Kids are so mean, and when you have a physical difference they can pick on, it’s even worse, and I still don’t have any idea how to stop that. But I know how to stop it from hurting me; I know how to seek out joyful and nurturing experiences to balance out the times I walk by a group of teenagers and hear them burst into laughter and feel SURE it’s me they’re laughing at. I wish I hadn’t let the meanness win when I was younger, because looking back, part of the reason some of the other kids I knew hated me so much wasn’t because I was fat (which is mostly what I believed at the time), it was because I let their meanness turn me into a real jerk!

  2. The trouble with being a teen, especially in the adolescent years is that if you don’t fit in (or aren’t at least trying to fit in). you have a good chance of being harassed by other teens when no one’s looking. I remember that from my own formative years, and still don’t know a way around it – we’re not all cut out to be badasses. How can something an adult tells you from some website have enough impact to counteract the remark some teen guy just made about your fat ass in front of his friends?
    Not saying we shouldn’t try, just wondering how warnings of bad things to come (future diet cycling and its associated obsessions) can compete with more immediate concerns.

    1. The thing is, conforming or trying to conform is often a losing game anyway. And I think sometimes something an adult tells you on a web site can be really heartening. I know that when I was in high school, it always made me feel better to hear that some famous, well-respected person was unpopular in high school. I can only write what I know and what I think would have helped me.

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