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Weight, Self-Esteem, and Bullying

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I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember.  As a teenager, I remember wanting so badly to be popular, but I allowed my weight to put a barrier between my peers and me.  It was hard trying to fit in.  I wanted to be able to do the same things the other kids were doing.  Going out for pizza, however, was a traumatic event for me.  First of all, I didn’t want my friends to think that I actually ate pizza.  I had much rather have them think that the weight just mysteriously appeared on my body.  As ridiculous as that sounds, at the time it made perfect sense to me.   To go and eat pizza with my friends would mean risking them thinking I was a big fat pig.  If I didn’t eat anything, that would only draw attention to the fact that I was trying to lose weight, and that wasn’t a conversation that I wanted to have either.  After all, that would invite follow up questions down the road.  How much weight have you lost?  How much do you want to lose?

I remember many a lonely night sitting at home while my friends were out having funI was not able to wear the cute fashions that the other girls wore.  My mother always had to buy my clothing in the chubby girls section at the department store.  I hated that.  I remember cringing with embarrassment every time she took me shopping.  It was humiliating. Summer time was the worst.  I can’t even remember how many swim parties I was invited to that I had to turn down.  I never went to even one of them.  The thought of putting on a swimsuit in front of my peers was almost more than I could bear.

Kids can be cruel.  As an overweight teenage girl, I beat myself up enough, but the harsh words of my peers were enough to send me into a deep dark depression.  I didn’t want to go to school.  I didn’t want to hang out with them.  I didn’t want to do anything except…well…eat.  Food became my drug of choice.  It became my comfort, my friend.  In my loneliness, 

Don’t get me wrong.  I tried to lose weight.  I would go on water fasts for days at a time, obsessing about my weight.  I tried the grapefruit diet, the rice diet, and countless other diets all to no avail.  It was simply too hard to keep up that kind of eating for any length of time.  Even if I lost weight, it would come back on just as quickly as it came off.  Add to that the fact that I had a mother who showed her love to her family with her food.  She was such a good cook, and if I didn’t eat seconds or even thirds at dinner, it would hurt her feelings.  The perfect recipe for obesity in a shy, quiet child who loved to please.

I’m very glad that I am not a teenager in today’s society where expectations of what one should look like have tripled since those years long ago.  I feel for the girls who are so obsessed with their looks that they forget who they are deep inside.  As long as they look good, life is good.  If only life were that simple.

Unrealistic expectations coupled with a culture where bullying is prevalent is a recipe for disaster.  Who can ever measure up?  Both the bully and the bullied both suffer from a lack of self-esteem.  The only difference is that they manifest that lack in different ways.

My upcoming YA novel, “Alone in the Crowd” is a must read for both teenagers and parents.  Stay tuned….

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Written by cherylawilliams

May 20, 2012 at 7:58 pm

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