A Brief History of Fat

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I was born on Sunday 21st of November 1982, a healthy baby of around 7lb. Photographic evidence confirms I was one cute wee bastard. It also suggests that I was far from a fat child. I’m trying to think of the first time I became aware of being fat, but I can’t identify a single moment where I defined myself as fat. It was a fairly slow evolution into becoming so, if that makes any sense? Put it this way, I remember my first diet! I’d say I was maybe 9 or ten at the time. My Ma and my Granny were starting the Scarsdale Diet (obviously in vogue at the time), and I was ‘on it’ too. All I can remember was it involved omelettes and grapefruit. So I guess the decision was made for me to join in on this diet too, so does this mean they saw me as fat then? Or maybe it was just easier to feed me the same as them? I dunno, in any case, I was acutely aware of being bigger than everyone else at school – and therefore, fat.

However, in retrospect, I have looked at pictures of me at various stages of my early years and have concluded that I actually wasn’t fat when I was a child. I was merely a hallion. For those of you who are familiar with the term, you know exactly what I mean! For those who aren’t, a ‘hallion’ is another word for a large person, usually agricultural in nature, awkward, obtrusive, unrefined, and a general brick shithouse. I’m trying to think of celebrity hallions as examples of this term, but my mind is blank. Miranda Hart maybe? Anyway, yeah. I was just a typical country girl, tomboyish and big boned, and very tall for my age. Sorry to drop this bomb on you, but I was also an early developer. Puberty smacked me in the face when I was ten, and it was unforgiving and brutal. By the time I went to grammar school, Clearasil and Biactol were old news and I looked like a sweaty, greasy haired blackhead in my new uniform. First year was dead on, I was a big tall lump that towered over the little Newry girls – not unlike the British Army fortifications that towered over the Bandit Country I had been sent from. How illustrative. It was good while it lasted, but by the time I returned after the summer of first year, I was no longer dominating the skyline of my class at assembly. Everyone else (apart from the perpetual shortarses) had stretched significantly over the break. I was now quite short, and quite a tub. The shape of things to come.

From the age of 13 onwards, I steadily increased in weight. I can lay partial blame at the feet of an ill advised prescription for ‘The Pill’, which I received to combat a fairly painful and acute spell of acne in my very early teens. I gained a lot of weight in a short space of time, but it would maybe be naive of me to assume that it was all ‘The Pill’s fault. My Ma and Da also separated around this time, which was shitty to be honest. As an only child, I sort of had to get on with that one on my own, and it wasn’t a time I look back on with affection. So as I said in a previous post, loads of reasons but still no excuse. I could have made a conscious decision to throw myself into exercise as a means of distraction, instead I chose to throw myself into chocolate and endless hours of Blackadder videos.

Around 15 or 16, I joined Weightwatchers. Again, with my long suffering mother who has supported me in every single thing I’ve ever done (good or bad) in my life. God love her. Anyway, I was 16 stone at this stage. But it was just numbers to me, it all still is. I can honestly say that I didn’t see how big I was then. I knew it, because it was made obvious to me by others, but I didn’t see it – possibly because I didn’t want to look. I had a great ability to look into a full length mirror and only actually see my face! This ‘technique’ stayed with me until my mid twenties, I think the proper term for it is denial! Weightwatchers was dead on. I lost weight at it, but I found it unpleasant. The counting of points felt restrictive and my taste for fruit and vegetables was severely lacking. I was also constantly hungry. Hunger has turned out to be a theme, I’ll cover that later. For all these reasons, Weightwatchers fell by the wayside, and normal service was resumed i.e. pies.

My next dalliance with a slimming club came in 2004, I joined Weightwatchers again in an effort to lose five stone in preparation for my first sun holiday. Such bullshit. I lost four pounds the first week, one the next, and continued in the vein of ‘lose one, gain one, lose one’ until it was time to start buying shorts and t shirts. Needless to say, my Ibiza holiday was spent sweating in oversized t shirts and hating every moment of movement in the sun. It was a complete waste of time and money, and I feel so bad for the fella that was with me, I just didn’t want to do anything. Except eat.

You would think that experience would be enough of a lightbulb moment to spur me into action to get rid of the bulk? Not so. I had far too much going on in my life to give serious consideration to how unhappy I was with myself. Truthfully, being a fatty has been the only real negative in what has been quite a positive little existence thus far. I’ve never wanted for money, security, friends, granted home life was quite lonely at times, but far more people have had it far worse. I performed well at school, despite my laziness. Went to uni……for six weeks. Had a good job, a great job in fact. Had shitloads of money for someone my age, bought my own car and my own house at 22, all whilst hauling around eight to ten stone more than I should have been. Most sad stories involving fat people centre around being single – too fat for love etc. To my credit, I have never had this problem! Since I was 17, I think I’ve been single for a grand total of a year. I can’t say I’ll ever understand the attraction to someone so fat, but obviously my glimmering personality was a draw. Ha. Based on this, I can see how people don’t realise their increasing mass when everything else is going right. All the pieces of life fit together and it carries you along with it. The awareness of self gets swamped by living life, or going through the motions as I like to call it.

This is a bit of a rambling post, so I shall wrap up. I guess the conclusion I’m reaching is that is self awareness and self perception that is key to being. If you think it, it will be. If you ignore it (whatever it is), it doesn’t exist. The concept of ‘life’ as a series of things to do, tasks to complete, boxes to tick, events to deal with, the sheer mundanity of ‘existing’ can prove to be an effective distraction from true self awareness and seeing what needs to be seen.

It was only when I slowed things down, I saw what I was happy to let life keep from me for all those years. When all the bells and whistles and fun and games were stripped away, I was actually disgusted and ashamed of what I saw when I actually looked in the mirror. Properly looked I mean. It was shocking, and it was just sad.

And so ends a fairly downbeat entry.

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