BlogBody Blog

My Fat Friend

Listening to this guy I discovered a few weeks ago because of an odd sequence of events {for more details, check out [Vinnie post]} has me thinking about body fat in a whole new way.

On his podcast, Fitness Confidential, he talks about ‘the fat kids’ amongst his peers at high school and makes a big deal about naming them… because there were less than 5. I was talking to Zeffy last night about how the percentage of ‘fat kids’ has gone from, say, 10% or so—to the more than half we’re at now. There was a fitness craze in the 80s, we were all warned against eating too many fatty foods, so what happened?

A friend of mine in elementary school was very much ‘a fat kid’ as I can still visually recall her waistline was at least 4 times mine, even though she wasn’t much taller. She didn’t even own a pair of jeans because only stretchy fabric was comfortable. We lived really close to each other and would walk home from school together when the weather was nice enough. She and I and others like us were an early generation of latch-key kids; in fact, we both had single moms who often arrived home at least an hour after we did. I’d hang out with her after school to avoid being home with siblings I had issues with when mom wasn’t around to force us into better behaviour.

This girl was an excellent student, received top marks in all of her classes, which was a primary reason her mother was so ‘lenient’ about their girls fooding lifestyle… which consisted of SO much watching television and eating a plethora of snack foods. I can still remember her old-fashioned braces {we didn’t have Invisi-line yet} which would get gunked up with food. This was so vile to me, I can also still remember brushing my teeth obsessively {years later when I’d finally gotten my own braces} because I was paranoid about having food gunk on my teeth gear.

I didn’t know anyone less active; she was the girl version of ‘classic school nerd’ because rest assured, if she was a boy, she’d have played hours of video games daily. Though we didn’t have many options back then; her little brother had a console of some kind that he only played in his room, where it was hooked up to his own television. She also had one in her bedroom and their mother slept on the couch; I met their dad once, he didn’t visit very often. He was diabetic, I can recall sugar-free candies in his car.

The one other seriously overweight young person in our small New England town was the older brother to my older brother’s friend. This kid filled a room… though that was easy to do from my tiny perspective. He was likely just under 6ft, naturally stocky and an easy 50+ pounds overweight. I can remember being told he had a condition because, regardless of how much he ate, he never felt full. The year was 1995 or so and most of us at roughly 6-11 servings of grains every day; in addition to lots of candy, since our adult supervision was extremely limited.

We had 2 or 3 other peers who were ‘chunky’ {like, an extra 1-3 pounds} and they were all girls with emotional imperfections. Christine also had divorced parents before it was trending; her mother was very attentive but there was something weird between her mom and dad {met him once too, he had a sketchy vibe and I got the feeling what’s-her-name was a strong woman for getting away from this man for to do better for herself and their child} and she had feelings 8 year old’s rarely understand. So she like sweets, as did most of us; cookies, candies, pancakes with lots of syrup… and all this was okay so long as you didn’t eat too much and stayed active enough to balance it out. Besides, some children don’t lose their baby fat until their 14… back then, anyhow.

Another ‘chunky’ peer looked like a smaller, younger version of her mom—we all liked sweets and sometimes she at too much because some people enjoy eating. Years later she developed IBS which is tragic but apparently a common result of working so hard to limit fat intake and believing the government when it tells you ‘pasta and grains are your friends.’ I lost touch with the other two long before any of us hit our 20s.