"At least I'm not heavy like you, Jess, right?"
Pause. The music playing in the background gently fades, my eyes leaving the faces of my friends to focus on a tree in the background. A familiar sensation of worthlessness washes over me.
Flash back to seventh grade. At about 180 pounds, 5 foot 4 and 12 years old, I was, in medical terms, obese. At the sensitive age of 12, kids are brutal. Whale, chubby, Teletubby and my favorite, "fat Mexican" were names I heard basically every day.
One day as I was leaving the school bus, it's funny the things you remember, I heard "You should go on Weight Watchers!"
So I would go home and find comfort in junk food and TV. What would now probably be considered a binge eating disorder, was then to me just my routine.
When I got to high school, the weight started coming off. I developed a unhealthy relationship with food and terrible body image, dropped 50 pounds and became a zombie. Counting every calorie, running every mile with the sole purpose of shrinking my own body, for what? My relationships crumbled (as did five of my bones from malnourishment) around me as I chose to stay in instead of hang out with friends, because when friends hang out, they eat, and I didn't want to be over my calorie count for the day.
I destroyed my metabolism during my bouts with anorexia, gained 10 pounds despite exercising and eating clean and am left to deal with the psychological consequences weight gain causes in those with a history of disordered eating.
And while all of my friends are out enjoying their summer in their bikinis, I am having panic attacks trying to find an outfit to wear to even the most trivial places, like the supermarket.
Honestly though, it had been forever since anyone had made such a comment about my weight, as until now I had been rather thin.
To the boy who called me fat, do you know how long it took me to get ready to go to this party?
Do you know how many outfits I tried on, my friends reassuring me I looked okay and not to worry, before my head finally gave up and decided on something?
I didn't try on 20 outfits because I just love all of my clothes and couldn't decide what looked best, or because the weather was up in the air and I didn't want to be cold...
I tried on 20 outfits because looking at myself in the mirror, being confronted with my "new body" and extra weight -- my biggest fear -- paralyzed me.
And while I felt your words like knives in my most tender bones, you -- the boy who called me fat -- don't have the right to bring me back to that dark place.
The place of consistently avoiding food, the place of spending two-plus hours at the gym, the place of sitting in my bed at night crying because I ate a bowl of organic cereal, which put me over my "allotted" calorie count and carbohydrate levels for the day, because my hunger was so real that it literally woke me up in the middle of the night.
So instead, I'm going to heal.
I'm going to write and paint and spend time with my family and friends.
I'm going to use the four hours a day I probably spend tracking my calories and worrying about my weight to stop and enjoy my life.
To the boy who called me fat,
I'd love to say I don't care. I'd love to agree with my friends who tell me that you are just a narcissistic prick and I'm "hot" or whatever, but to be honest, I do care.
But instead of being upset that I care, instead of crying any more than I already have over a mere seven words, I'm going to let you in on a little secret:
You could be a size zero and have cholesterol levels through the roof, so out of shape you can't walk up the stairs without wheezing.
You could be a size eight and be able to run an entire half marathon without a break and eat a well balanced, plant-based diet.
You can be a size 24 and spend hours a day dancing your heart out, eating three square meals and taking hikes in your free time.
Why is everything about weight?
You have NO idea what I've been through at all. Quite frankly, you have no idea what ANYONE has been through at all. I don't care if you are a literal God or Hercules himself, you have ZERO right to make ANY comments about ANYONE'S body. In a world where pro-anorexia blogs, Tumblr accounts, Instagram feeds and the like exist, it is our job to promote self-love, acceptance and health.
To the boy who called me fat: you hurt me.
But it's what I do with this pain you've caused me that makes me a stronger human than you'll ever be.