To The Boy Who Called Me Fat

Jesse Herzog
Jesse Herzog

You probably don’t remember me, but I remember you. I remember, on the first day of my junior year, passing you in the science hallway of our suburban high school. It was 2010 and I was late to class. I guess you were, too. We weren’t that different, you and I. Just two mindless teenagers rushing to first period after the last bell rang. But you, outnumbering me next to one of your friends, couldn’t let me get there fast enough. You slowed me down with those four short, mumbled words of yours.

“That girl was fat,” you said.

I was barely a foot away when you spewed that comment to your friend. You probably thought I didn’t hear it, but I did. My face grew hot and my pace fell slower, as I turned the corner away from you forever. I guess you didn’t know how embarrassed I used to be about the stretch marks on my thighs. Or that I was dreading prom that year because it meant trying on dresses that didn’t fit. You didn’t know. I suppose I can’t really blame you for that. Sixteen-year-olds don’t exactly write their insecurities on their foreheads. If they’re anything like I was, they laugh and joke and pretend they’re not cringing inside. That’s the cruel thing about being a teenager – even with all the air in the world, you can still suffocate.

I want you to know that when I found the perfect prom dress that spring, I still heard your voice when I looked in the mirror. I want you to know that I had friends who loathed the length of their legs, the curls in their hair, the size of their breasts. I even had guy friends who were ashamed about their lack of muscle or their ability to flirt with girls. I guess I want you to know these things because I’m tired of the critics. I’m tired of hearing how a teenage girl stopped eating because a classmate called her chubby or how a boy gets made fun of because he’s not athletic enough to play a sport. I want you to know that a simple sentence, even one as short as four words, can truly take a bite of confidence out a person. A bite that can take years to grow back.

You should know that I am a 21-year-old woman now, with curvy hips and long eyelashes and a sense of humor that can make my friends laugh until they cry. That there are boys who pay attention to me, who kiss my skin and call me beautiful. That I’ve traveled all across Europe and my professors think I can flourish as a writer. I’ve come a long way since hearing your awful words near a classroom full of beakers and test tubes. I’m not sixteen anymore and neither are you.

I don’t know where you are these days. I don’t even know your name or remember the complexities of your face. But I remember what you said. I remember how I rushed to band class and didn’t tell my friends a word about it. I remember letting you ruin my day and too many days thereafter.

Wherever you are, I forgive you, even if you wouldn’t apologize. I forgive you because I might not be the woman I am today if you hadn’t put me down. I wouldn’t have pushed myself every single day to be a better person. Maybe if you weren’t so thickheaded that day, you’d know what kind of person that is: a writer, a traveler, a coffee addict. A lover of dogs and Indie music and the color purple. So much more than the person you thought you saw that day. TC mark

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  • Cara

    I was the fat girl in junior high, and again in high school, and still in college…by grad school I was the far woman.

    It was junior high school when the boys started calling me fat. They weren’t wrong, I WAS fatter than the other girls. But the fact that they were right about how rotund I was didn’t make it right for them to make jokes and sing a song (Oh yeah, there was a song) about how fat I was. I never did anything to them.

    Now I’m a 38 year old woman in recovery. I forgave my late grandfather for having raped me (not because his corpse deserved forgiveness, but because I deserve to move forward with my life). Some of the same boys who poked fun at me (or were quite mean while thinking all they did was poke fun at me) attempted to friend me on Facebook because they see I’m in a few BDSM groups (apparently they think the fact that I’m kinky means there’s a chance I’m going to fuck them and just NO, NOT GOING TO HAPPEN). And I can say I forgive them for what went on when we were all eleven years old, we were kids and we didn’t know any better. But I want nothing to do with them. I don’t want to poke them back or accept their friend requests.

  • Chelsea

    This is so beautiful and what a great attitude to take an awful comment like that and turn it positive by realizing that it only made you stronger. Great piece!

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