1) I’d ask the other kids to understand the value of picking the fat kid first at dodge ball. You see, there is something I’ve learned over the past three decades, and it’s that people usually live up to their expectations. The kid picked first feels a duty to be the best, and to perform the best, and to be better than anyone else. They feel a need to execute. And, the only way they are going to achieve that is to make their body run faster, jump higher, and move quicker. If more fat kids were chosen first for activities and sports and group/team dynamics, they would automatically start to change their lives to fit into the expectations that surround those moments. Any time a child is picked last, they know it’s because people expect the least of them, and so they never actually have a need to rise above that.
2) I’d ask adults to not find excuses for me or to give me hope in magic. I really wish I had never heard a single excuse about why I was fat or why the people in my family are fat. I really wish I never heard that my genetics would always make me that way, or that my bones were so heavy that fatness was inevitable (a link I still don’t get). I wish I would have never been allowed to try extreme diets or magic pills and potions. I just wish the people who loved me would have told me the truth. We were all fat because we all lived lives that made us fat. We had big frames and structures, sure. But we didn’t have to be fat if we didn’t want to. It took me a lot of years, and a lot of yo-yoing, and a lot of dangerous get-skinny tactics to finally realize that.
3) I’d ask anyone who ever cut me slack for being fat to take it back. Now don’t get me wrong. If I had a kid who was fat like I was, I would be tempted as his dad to hope that they cut him slack. But looking back, I wish nobody would have for me. I wish my P.E. coach hadn’t always been willing to write a note any time I was tardy to my next class because it took me 15 minutes longer than everyone else to finish the fun run. I wish I would have been expected to perform the same tasks, and dance the same dance, and achieve the same things as everyone else. Since I learned early on that people take it easy on fat people, I never became (as a young person) what I should have become and I never learned what I should have learned. And that’s that my weight is never an excuse to under-perform.
Those three things. I really believe they would have made such a difference.
Most of the awful and horrible life lessons about fat people that I learned as a fat kid could have been avoided altogether. I would have lived a very different life. That, I promise you.
Dan Pearce, The Single Dad Laughing Blog
Now please, as you comment, be nice. I could have written a kumbaya post about how the world is awesome and how fat people are just as valued as anyone else. But I think honesty about what I went through and what I saw going on growing up (and even into adulthood) is far more powerful. Especially if we can all discuss it in such a way.