Growing up I’ve always been a fat girl, my weight was and still is the center of most family discussions. My young life has also been plagued by Adultification bias. Due to physical characteristics that African Americans share; a narrative has been created that depicts black children as looking and acting older than their actual ages. This is Adultification bias.
Not only was I fat but I was also very tall for my age and also black- all things deemed undesirable for a black girl. It’s funny because I’ve never felt insecure growing up, I’ve always had to deal with a cluster of issues mostly stemming from my mental health/ emotional issues. I often prioritized my emotional needs over my weight issues.
I remember when I was in elementary school and my class was outside playing in the yard, and this boy named Richard blatantly told me that I was too fat to play, so I cried. And my friend at the Danaija (not spelling her name correctly) consoled me, and Richard apologized & oddly enough Richard and I actually became good friends & even spent time at our local public park together while I was in middle school. He eventually moved away & I’ve never seen him again.
I’ve never been bullied for my size, it’s funny how my classmates saw me as just a person yet my family viewed me as a pariah. I was never bullied by anyone in school, my family members were my biggest bullies.
In middle school, I only wore box braids as a hairstyle. It was a style I felt most comfortable in. Girls in my school were getting into makeup, wigs, & weaves yet I wasn’t interested in any of that; also didn’t have the money to invest into it. I never felt left out or like an outcast although I wasn’t as outspoken as the other girls. Yes, my body was large but my voice wasn’t. I always noticed how the boys in my schools viewed those outspoken girls, those were the girls they wanted, those were the girls they chased after, not a shy, quiet, into books, fat girl. It didn’t help that I was and still is nerdy, beautiful yet not exotic looking.
In middle school, I also had a total of 1 crush, his name was Marques. I really liked him a lot, and everyone knew & I didn’t try to hide it. But Marques didn’t like me back, and I vividly remember him calling me ugly one day; it’s something I’d never forget but it didn’t negatively affect or deter me. Because I continued to have a crush on him for 2 years straight.
Not only was I fat but I was also tall. I vividly remember this girl named Janell telling me that I look “mad tall and doofy”. If you’re not from New York the term “mad” is slang for “a lot/ really”.
When I went to my 1st high school in Brooklyn, I remember the security guard walking/ wobbling towards me with his arms wide open kind of like bat wings. I said “huh” & he responded, “that’s how you walk”. I still don’t concur.
One time I was in the bodega just minding my business and buying something. There were guys joking around, and a man pointed in my direction & said “at least I have my bodyguard” – referring to me. The literal elephant in the room.
I laughed accordingly but it made me feel very uncomfortable.
From 2018-2019, I interned at an after school program in Manhattan. One of the men was joking around with the teacher I worked with, and jokingly said “you have your bodyguard here”- referring to me
Again that made me feel very uncomfortable
I’ve always felt uncomfortable
I AM NOT A FUCKING BODYGUARD
I WAS NOT BORN TO PROTECT ANY HUMAN BEING ON PLANET EARTH
I DONT HAVE FUCKING SUPERHERO STRENGTH
Because I’m fat I’m just seen as a massive object and not a woman.
Masculine descriptions have always been projected onto me to further dehumanize me. And the absurd thing about it is that these people consider it to be a joke, & I personally don’t find any part of it to be humorous.
My family members continue to automatically assume that every issue I have/ every action I take is a direct result of my weight.
I ended up transferring from my high school in Brooklyn after 2.5 years because I was severely depressed, experiencing psychotic episodes, failing all of my classes, going to therapy, and was beginning to take new medications. I wanted to do well in school, so I thought of changing my environment in order to get a fresh start and redeem myself since my Brooklyn high school wasn’t doing shit for me. I ended up transferring to a small school in Manhattan and it was literally one of the best decisions 16-year-old me has ever made. That school literally changed my life for the better, it had easy access to mental health resources, I formed a close bond with the social worker and guidance counselor there, it was very college and career-oriented and it inspired me to pursue higher education!
I decided to go with my family member to church one morning when I was 17, and as I’m in the room getting dressed she stands by the door and says to me “The reason you transferred schools was because you were getting bullied for your weight right?” No bitch, the fucking reason I transferred schools was because my fucking mental health was deteriorating and I wanted another shot at life.
The word feminine makes me utterly uncomfortable. I identify as female and use she/ her/ hers pronouns, but I’ve never felt like a woman, due to masculine descriptions being projected onto me from a young age. Sometimes I feel out of place when strangers refer to me as a girl, in my mind I automatically go “wow you recognize that I’m a girl”. My heart races when people call me “miss” or “girl” or “young lady”. I went out to Times Square with this guy and we took 2 Ubers around Manhattan and he proceeded to always open the car door for me. I felt so weird and couldn’t believe I was being treated like a woman.
I’ve found myself questioning “What does it truly mean to be a girl? “What does it truly mean to be feminine?”
Am I doing something wrong? Should I start wearing makeup? Should I start wearing wigs? Should I start giving a fuck about my appearance to be appealing to men?
When I started asking myself these questions, it motivated me to want to change yet hold onto some pieces of myself.