As I lay, crouched in the fetal position, crying on my bedroom floor, weeping myself in and out of insanity, swirling damaging beliefs through my now pubescent head, I replayed the day over and over and over. 

I had just reached puberty, and my once gangly legs, used to run and jump and play, were now full, pale thighs in desperate need of shaving. My once non-existent chest, which held no purpose nor importance, now had protruding, round breasts. And, most devastatingly of all, my once flat stomach, which made no difference to me before, had a thin layer of fat lying right on top.

As my body was changing, I didn't particularly mind. I had read American Girl books warning me about all of the new responsibilities to come, but as far as what my image meant to other people, well that thought had never even crossed me. 

It wasn't until another girl called me fat that I realized the importance of how one looked. It almost felt as if I had been stabbed in the gut. "Fat" is such an ugly word. It's a powerful weapon against a little girl's sensibility.

She said it in such a harsh way, too. That was the line I played over and over in my head. It was her tone, her conviction, just looped over and over in my little fat girl head. Because after that verbal assault, that was all I could see myself as. 

I was no longer a pianist, a painter, a writer, a creator. No, all of that flew out of the window on a big fat jet. All I was on that floor was a puddle of cellulite and shame. I was convinced the other girl saw me for who I truly was. For what everyone was too afraid to tell me. She knew it, and she wasn't afraid. She was going to tell it like it is. For that, I was almost grateful.

As the tears collected in pools on my now chubby cheeks, I thought of how I could fix my fatness. What was I supposed to do now that I came to this shocking realization? How was I going to pick my overweight body off of this damn floor and be skinny like I was supposed to be?

At this point, everything was fair game. I was willing to be thin at all costs. I couldn't feel this pain again. And if I just lost all of this weight, I wouldn't have to. Because, in my head, skinny meant safe. And I would do anything to feel safe.

So I picked myself up off of the floor with a new set of beliefs, a new sense of determination, and a new way to escape.

Published by Shawn Engel