Gym class is a place the majority of us usually feel uncomfortable- especially when we’re out running the mile and by the second lap, you’re more winded than you expected yourself to be. But, hey, that’s okay! We’re not all super athletes who spend hours a week training. And in an educational environment, that’s supposed to be okay, right?
I wish I had felt the same way.
When I was in 10th grade, I was a volleyball player. While I wouldn’t say that I was the best player that the world has ever seen, I will say that I was a good player; I was dedicated, hard-working, and cheerful. I would always leave the practice drenched in sweat and my heart pounding.
Despite the long workouts I did in practice, I was still a bit ‘heavier’ than the other girls. Was I considered plus-size back then? No, not in my books. I was a size 12 and really had no idea of the whole world of being plus-size. In my school, it still wasn’t enough.
While it happened less when I was in 9th and 10th grade, I would still get a few remarks about my size. It would come from the jocks and the cheerleaders, who would whisper behind my back about my thighs or my belly. I got used to learning how to deal with it and ignore their spiteful comments.
We had four gym teachers; two women and two men. That year, I had been placed under the younger male teacher, who was a total jock-head. He was super buff and every morning would be seen downing a protein shake and a giant bagel. Was he attractive in my eyes? No, he just wasn’t my type. Besides, he was obviously older than me and that’s just not something I’m into.
The other girls thought differently. Whenever he would walk by, they would giggle and joke around with him, obviously flirting. He was the basketball coach and was friends with a lot of the boys who were jocks. He was just one of those teachers who was a jokester around the people that he liked. Some of the girls would make sexual remarks and I would just roll my eyes, desperate to get out of high school.
He was my gym teacher, but he was also my health teacher. Whenever we were talking about a new drug or a STD, he would always find some two-hour movie about the drug/STD and how it affected some basketball player’s life. By the time I had finished health class, I could tell you more about how to play basketball than I could about the dangers of heroin. Great teacher, right?
One day, we were talking about healthy eating, eating disorders, and diets in class. In order to better evaluate our personal health in class, my teacher (let’s call him Mr. X) went around the room and asked us our personal BMI’s. Each of us had to answer, he explained, as we were being educated in a judgement free zone. As each person answered, he would make a comment of some sort. I was in the back of the class room, sitting next to my best friend of the year, when it was my turn.
“What’s your BMI, Alizabeth?” Mr. Z asked.
“25.6,” I responded. While I’m not excatly sure it was that number, I know it was around that range.
“Wow, you’re fat!” he exclaimed, with a smile on his face.
A look of shock spread across my face and before I was able to say anything, a girl in front of me turned around and said:
“Damn, Alizabeth! You’re bigger than me, girl!” she remarked and there were several people who started to laugh.
“Just kidding, I love you!” Mr. X exclaimed again, keeping the big smile on his face.
Tears began to form in my eyes as I bit my lip and tried not to cry. Everything had happened so quickly and I was so stunned, I couldn’t even think of anything to say back. And just like that, he was on to the next person, asking their BMI.
I was the only one who was called out. I was the only one who was made fun of. I mean, there were girls in there who I knew weren’t at healthy as I was, so why did it matter what my BMI was? I was so angry and hurt. It was such a blow to my small amount of self-confidence. To be called fat by someone who was supposed to make me feel like an equal was just outright insane.
It was something that took me a while to get over. It wasn’t until after I graduated that I realized something.
My size does not define me. No number can measure the value that I bring to this world. No matter if I’m underweight, overweight, or normal, I am immeasurable. And you are too, my Queens.
Has something like this ever happened to you? Have you ever been fat shamed before?
I love you all, so, so much!