Dear Anonymous, I hereby award you the Purple Heart in the War On Fat for your bravery and strength.
I was in 6th grade. I’d already spent some time practicing by wrapping things around my throat to see how it felt. I was tired of being picked on, beat up, having things thrown at me, having no friends, and have boys ask me out just to laugh at me. At home I was called lazy and worthless and fat.
Just to make it clear, I wasn’t always the fat kid. I was very very thin and then suddenly, for no discernible reason, I gained a lot of weight very rapidly (my doctors now tell me it’s because my body chemistry changed due to the onset of bipolar disorder). I was popular, had lots of friends, had “boyfriends” , was favored by teachers, etc.
After the weight gain I lost it all. For two years I didn’t have a single friend in school until another fat kid moved to the area.
I was miserable. No kid that young should deal with the depression and self loathing that I dealt with. I hated myself and I hated my body and I wanted it all to end. One day I just walked into our back yard to the big tree with the swinging rope and tried to hang myself.
I was unsuccessful, but I would try again about a year later and develop some very self destructive habits. The thing is- I didn’t care about my weight until people began pointing it out to me. I was just a happy kid- running around and playing and having fun. But my peers- classmates and adults alike, took it upon themselves to make me feel like my body was wrong and horrible and disgusting.
This was almost 20 years ago.. I can’t imagine how much worse it is for fat kids now.
If you’ve attempted or contemplated suicide as a direct result of fat stigma, discrimination, or abuse, I hereby award you the Purple Heart in this war on fat. The idea from this blog came from the amazing efforts of people all over the country in response to the string of gay suicides. It was covered by the media, new anti bullying policies were put in place in many schools across the nation, the It Gets Better campaign was started, and the majority of the country came together to support those in the LGBT community who may be considering suicide. As a member of the LGBT community myself I found these efforts to be heart warming and overwhelming in their compassion and love for fellow human beings in pain. I feel lucky to have been surrounded by people who didn’t care about my sexuality. I may have gotten an eyebrow raised in my direction, but I never faced the horrors that many LGBT people face.
Unfortunately, as a fat person I have not been so lucky. While I rejoyced at this new swell of LGBT acceptance and support, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that while these gay suicides were catching the media’s attention and more focus was being put on bullying of LGBT people (though it seemed mostly focused on LG people- I think we can do better here), there were still people getting bullied, contemplating, attempting, and completing suicide because of their weight. I couldn’t help but wonder, where is our awareness campaigns? Our media coverage? Our “It Gets Better” videos?
Unfortunately the sad truth is that, for many fat people, it doesn’t get better. The abuse doesn’t stop just because you grow up and move to a liberal neighborhood. Fat people face constant verbal abuse and bullying, fear of physical attacks, job discrimination including a fat wage gap, they can be denied insurance or even certain medical procedures, have their health and lives put in jeopardy from dangerous weight loss methods (in the name of health no less), and are constantly degraded and dehumanized in the media. The truth is that fat people are more at risk for both eating disorders and suicide as a direct result of weight stigma.
This blog is for the stories of those people. It is in honor of those who have fallen and taken their own lives as well as those wounded in battle. Welcome, and I hope the stories here will help others realize how dangerous a war on innocent people can be and maybe, just a little, help to end that war.