Yup. I was a fat kid. Plain and simple fat. Between the ages of eight and twelve I don’t think I brushed my hair once and I refused to wear any pants that didn’t have an elastic waist. Which meant I owned sweatpants in every color. Oh, and umbros. I owned a lot of umbros too. And I would wear my sweatpants with t-shirts, namely oversized Green Day t-shirts with the word “Dookie” written across it. “Dookie” was the name of their album, but regardless, it was the last word I needed emblazoned across my t-shirt when I was a twelve-year old fat kid, with boobies when I wasn’t supposed to have boobies.
So let’s face it, I wasn’t a fashonista back then. Not even close. I colored my hair with green sharpie markers and blasted the Dangerous Minds album from my bedroom. I listened to Hole and Weezer on my big black headphones attached to my enormous yellow Walkman. The same Walkman my father had gifted me when I had my appendix removed two years earlier. Along with the gigantic yellow walkman, my father had purchased me my first cassette tape, Technotronic, which I confidently blasted “Pump up the Jam” from as loud as possible, feeling pretty hip for the first time in my life, be it from the inside of a hospital ward in Connecticut.
You see, when I tell people I was a fat kid, they usually contest me saying “You?! I don’t believe it.” And whether they think they’re trying to pay me a compliment or not, I wish they would just accept it, so I’m not forced to pull out old family photos of myself at Chocolate World wearing white umbros and a Hershey Kiss hat. Because while other kids were begging their parents for a trip to Disney World, I was asking my parents to take me to Hershey Park, where instead of a life sized Mickey Mouse, there were life sized Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Chocolate bars. While some kids wanted to ride roller coasters and water slides, I would have preferred a slow journey into chocolate heaven. Hmm. I guess that explains a lot.
I’m not exactly sure how I ended up a fat kid. My parents ate vegetables and skinless boneless chicken breast and signed me up for tennis class and swim team. The only sugar cereal I was allowed to eat was Kix and as a result of being Jewish they never had to worry about chocolate bunnies and candy canes. The most weight I gained from Hanukkah was as a result of the constipation I got from eating too much unleavened bread.
But, now, during times of reflection, I think I’m ok with the fact that I was fat. Because I think being a fat kid gave me character. I think being a fat kid made me sneaky, smart, and you know, funny. At least that’s what I tell myself now.
And of course the obvious plus of being a fat kid…was having boobies before I was supposed to. Yes. I had them way before the others. And because of my chosen attire, sweatpants and baggy t-shirts, these unwanted boobies were not just noticeable to me. They were noticeable to, well, everyone. And it just so happened that one day, I found myself in the lingerie department at Macy’s with my mother. When most girls were begging their moms for their first training bra, I was running from the dressing room at Macy’s with tears in my eyes shouting, “It hurts!”
But fit me in a bra she did that day. Hours and hours seemed to pass by, of trying on this bra and that bra, clasps in the front, clasps in the back, underwire, no underwire, floral prints, no floral prints, and I whined and cried my way through the entire process. I was pretty sure I would not make it out of Macy’s alive, and I was certain I wouldn’t feel anymore like a young lady after being fitted for a B cup bra at ten years old. My disgust seemed to affect not just me, but possibly everyone that worked in the Macy’s lingerie department…I had a long way to go to reach young lady-dom.
But purchase we did. A flesh colored training bra with clasps in the front. Sexy I know. Getting dressed in the morning took extra effort now. A frontal clasp seems an easy task for most normal young ladies, but for me, after sliding on the sweatpants, and placing one arm through each training bra loop, clasping always proved to be difficult. Cause most times, the training bra smooshed my boobies. And I would lift and move and jump, but I could never fit them in just right. But off to school I went where I would sit in class, math class, social studies class, English class, and fiddle. Move my body to the left, a little to the right, shift one boobie up, one boobie down, trying to find the perfect place for my young oversized boobies to fit in their new flesh colored temporary home. But jeez, it just never seemed to feel quite right. And to be honest, I didn’t get it. I watched the Discovery Channel, and I knew that in places like the Amazon, women’s boobies hung free. And I wanted mine to do the same.
I think I watched a little too much Discovery Channel in fact, because one afternoon in English class, I felt the need to free my mind, and the rest would follow. I fidgeted. And fidgeted. And fidgeted, until I popped that training bra right in the middle of Sarah McDonald’s diorama presentation. And maybe I was wearing my dookie t-shirt that day, and maybe not. Maybe dookie hadn’t even come out yet, but if looks could kill, the universe would have invented a dookie t-shirt just for me, on that day, broken front clasp, sagging boobies, and…wait for it…bra straps hanging out of my shirt for all the eyes to see.
Now, there isn’t much more to this story. Except to say, that I don’t think I’ve ever truly gotten over it. In other words, I still have fat kid syndrome. And yes, being a fat kid made me funny, but it also kind of made me sad. It’s been about nineteen years since I was the girl with the flesh colored training bra hanging out of her shirt, but I don’t think we ever lose that part of ourselves. So what I’m getting at here is that I still am that girl. And sometimes, when I see myself falling down into that negative abyss of self-hatred and pity; on those days when I feel like a fatty at a Vegas buffet wearing a t-shirt that says, “I went to Vegas and all I got was this lousy t-shirt and an extra bread basket,” I have to remind myself that when I was wearing umbros and training bras, I was happy. I never thought about my weight, I never went on a diet, and I never looked in the mirror with disgust. I was young and wild and free, and I looked damn good in sweatpants.