An Open Letter To My Parents From A Formerly Fat Kid

Dear Mom and Dad,

Please do know that I love you very much and that I have so much to be thankful to you for. However, there is one resentment that I don’t think I will ever forget and I’m not sure I will be able to forgive: the fact that you let me spend my childhood and early adolescence in obesity.

Don’t try to argue that it wasn’t your fault. It was. A child only has her caregivers to provide her with food and health; she can’t do it herself. It was your job to feed me right, to make sure I was healthy. Yes, I know I was your first kid. You have the right to make mistakes. But I’m pretty sure that mistake just became flat-out denial after the first six years or so (that, or else you know a lot less about parenting than I thought). It should have been a tip-off that something needed to change when my baby fat didn’t disappear; it expanded.  It should have been obvious when I was wearing the same size clothes in first grade that most girls wear in fourth. And how could you have ignored that slap in the face every single year that came from the annual trip to the pediatrician during which he  would tell you (and eventually tell me) that I needed to watch my weight, that I was in the 80-something percentile, that I was overweight, that I was obese, that I was fat.

Go ahead and claim that it’s on the inside that counts. Tell me that it wasn’t apparent (I have photos that say otherwise). Claim that you didn’t want to ruin my childhood or my spirit or my confidence or something like that. I’ll grant you that—for years I didn’t see myself for my true size. Most of the time I deluded myself into blissful ignorance.

Things did happen though. Like in first grade when that boy asked if I stuffed a pillow in my shirt. Or in third grade when I got taunted for my size. In seventh grade when I got excluded. Every summer, trying to find a bathing suit that didn’t make me look like a whale. Every trip to the mall when I’d have to move up yet another size. Every middle school dance when I wouldn’t even get a first glance, let alone a second.

Or how about what happens now? Yeah, I might be a healthy weight but those stretchmarks of trauma are pretty hard to get rid of. I can’t look at childhood photos of myself or watch home movies without feeling the urge to cry and/or barf. I disdain going to the doctor for my annual physical on the same level one might feel about a root canal. I still hate shopping, especially bathing suit shopping. Any comment about how I look in an outfit, good or bad, makes me emotionally cringe. I’ve never let a guy see my body without clothes, let alone touch it. I’m afraid these are neuroses that I’ll have for life.

I suppose at this point it’s too late to beat ourselves up about this. I just thought you should know how I felt. I thought you should recognize that I’m not a picture-perfect child—the photos of me at age 13 are the only proof you need of that.

Love,

Your Formerly Fat Daughter TC Mark

image – Shutterstock

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