CREDOS: Obesity — I

When you’re a kid, it’s tough being different. By the time I was ten, I was taller than most kids and overweight. It was then that I began to hide my eating. I felt bad enough about my size, but when the others laughed at me, it only made me feel worse, and I turned to food for comfort.

For a time I tried slumping so that I’d be closer to my friends’ sizes, but my mother wouldn’t allow it. Mom always said to me, “Be proud of your height. You’ve never seen a short model, have you?” That got my attention. To me, the word “model” stood for beauty, which certainly wasn’t included in the vocabulary I would have used to describe myself.

One day, I was crying about how some of my friends got attention from boys that I didn’t. Mom sat me down again. I remember the soft, comforting look in her beautiful baby-blue eyes as she told me the story of The Ugly Duckling - how the little bird’s beauty was revealed when its time arrived. Mom told me that we all have our time to shine. “This is their time,” she said. “Your time will come when you become a woman.”

I listened to Mama’s story throughout my growing-up years, but my time never really seemed to come. Grown and married, I started to have my babies. After the birth of each of my three sons, I always hung on to twenty pounds. When I got pregnant with my last son, I went into the pregnancy weighing 209. After that, for a period of eight years, I gave up on ever being a normal weight again. —