This story comes from the Weight Issues Network’s report The Personal Costs of Weight Issues in Australia 2020 and has been reproduced with permission.
I have spent my entire life living with obesity. My. Entire. Life. From my early childhood onwards. Throughout the years, my body has taken on different forms – overweight, stage 1 obese, stage 2 obese and borderline stage three obese in cycles.
The lengths I have gone to hide my size are best illustrated by a simple story of a me as 14 year old girl who hops on the pirate ship at Australia’s Wonderland with her BFFs. I go to put on the seatbelt but it’s not long enough to fit around my hips. I have a choice. I can risk the inevitable ridicule of strangers and the quiet whispered pity party of my friends, or I can keep quiet and plummet to my death from an upturned pirate ship. What would you do? To a teenage girl who has endured a lifetime of teasing, it’s a no-brainer. I chose death. Luckily there was a bar that went over the top of everyone and that’s why I’m still here today. When I told my dad this story years later, he cried.
What has taken me 35 years to realise is that it wasn’t my fault that I was a larger child. And, don’t think for one second I’m blaming my mum! We had healthy lunchboxes and we ate home cooking and fresh foods almost always. We played outside until dinner. Therein lies a mystery.
“If you don’t want to be called fat, don’t be fat” is a quote from someone close to me. Someone who wouldn’t realise that I’ve kept that comment close to me since I was a child. My first diet was at aged 11 and by the time I was a teenager I was starving myself. Because of my size, no one picked it up as an issue.
Now I am in a body size that is classed with a healthy BMI and waist circumference and a socially acceptable dress size. This is not a simple before and after success story. It has taken me many years, numerous approaches, a number of relapses and a degree in nutrition science to get here. But my battles aren’t over yet. I am now focused on being weight stable and I know that this is the hardest part, keeping the weight off. But as I march in to battle this time, I am more educated and kinder to myself and I know what matters most is my health and wellbeing. I focus on fuelling myself and not starving myself. I now want to help others with this.
When I say that I still live with obesity, people think I am nuts but long after people have stopped calling me fat, fatty, fatty-boom sticks, smelly Kelly with the big belly, the big girl, the big chick, the larger woman, those words, those labels, are still part of my fabric. They still impact how I think of myself. Of what I’m capable of. On how willing I am to draw attention to myself. I have had to work hard during the past few years to push past those self-doubts and insecurities. The personal cost of obesity can’t keep hiding in the shadows. That is why I have shared my story.