I was going through a box of old papers the other day and came across a picture of me and two of my friends at my 8th grade continuation. I was shocked at the picture. When I looked at the picture, I saw three young girls standing together, their arms around each other and smiling into the camera. All three girls were wearing Gunny Sac dresses, the hot brand at the time. All three girls were the same size.
The picture shocked me, because I was sure that I was much larger than the other girls. My mom had made my Gunny Sac dress, rather than buying it in a store, because my dress had to be a special size. When my mom made my clothes, she always cut them a little wider than the pattern called for to hide my weight. I learned at an early age that my chubbiness was a shameful thing that I needed to hide. From the time I was six, when the doctor told my mother, “Madam, this child is obese,” I was on one diet after another.
So, on that happy day of my eighth grade continuation, with my friends, Melanie and Betsy, there was a shadow, because I was wearing a special Gunny Sac dress.
By ninth grade (just three months after that photo), I had finally lost the weight that had plagued me since my childhood. I was barely a size five. When I lay on my bed, I could place a ruler on my hip bones and slide my hand in the space between the ruler and my stomach. Yet, when I looked in the mirror, I still saw the obese girl–unsightly bulges, fat thighs. My mom still sewed for me, but now she said she could buy “normal” patterns.
During college, my weight began to creep up. I jumped up to 112 pounds. My mother became concerned. By the end of college, I weighed 130 pounds. My mother encouraged me to go on a diet. We went shopping for clothes for my first job. She went with me so I would buy the right clothes to hide my weight. When I looked in the three way mirror, I still saw that obese little girl. I despaired that I had let myself gain all this weight and vowed to diet. I spent the rest of the summer on a grueling 1000 calorie a day diet. I lost a mere seven pounds. My mom said I still had a ways to go. When I looked in the mirror, an obese girl stared back at me.Embed from Getty Images