RC Rocks Memoirs Memoirs - October. 2013 - Page 8

Mom, Do I Look Fatter?

8

”I suffer the terrible disease of low self-esteem. “ said Julie Bowen. My story began last year, in 8th grade. The subjects we talked about changed… Suddenly, I didn’t feel like a kid. One day it was “Who runs faster?” the next day it was “Oh my god! I gained weight! Do I look fat?” It didn’t get in my head at first; I was thin all my childhood. Slowly things changed, I realized something called “weighing.” Numbers started to matter. I moved the scale to my room, every morning I would get it out and weigh myself. My self-esteem was related to the number that was on the scale.

People looked at me and said, “I wish I was your weight.” I didn’t feel that way. I would subtract my weight from the last two digits of my height; go on Google and search stuff about weight loss. In 7th grade’s summer I weighed 43 kg. In the middle of 8th grade, I weighed 38 kg. I didn’t know if I lost weight intentionally, but I felt more confident. My dad would tell me that I looked like a stork when I wore skinny jeans. I would go up to my mom and ask her “Do I look like I gained weight?” “Mom, do I look fatter?” The answer would always be the same. “No, you don’t look like you gained weight but you should.”

Once, I was with my friends, Selin and Lara. All of us watched our weight even though we were all thin. We had a lot of junk food on the table. Nobody had the courage to begin eating; everybody was waiting for someone to jump right in. We had a quite long discussion about weight. They all kept on telling me that I was too thin. I didn’t want to listen because I felt like I wasn’t. I told them the same thing; I don’t think they believed me either. We stared at the chocolate, the chips for 30 minutes. I knew that we all counted calories. We stared at each other’s bodies to find out if she was thinner or fatter. I realized that I wasn’t the only one who minded way too much about her weight. Most of us did.

In the last months of 8th grade, there were rumors. I heard teachers, people I didn’t know, 7th graders whispering about me. Everybody was looking at me like I was out of this world. I didn’t get it. I thought it was just one of those “She loves him!” rumors. It wasn’t. The guidance came up to me, held me by my shoulders and asked me:

-Ela, tell me what you eat in one day. You’re so thin; you look like you’re going to break. You look pale.

That was when it hit me. People thought I was anorexic or even worse bulimic. Well, I wasn’t. I was just 13-year-old girl who watched her weight. Even though my close friends knew this, the rumor was still spreading. People, who didn’t know my name, knew my weight. I was a dead-girl walking, a skeleton… I was the bitter part while you were eating chocolate. I didn’t know what to do. I heard guys talking. “She would be pretty if she wasn’t that thin.” All that time, I thought being thin was the real deal. My weight would set my mood for the day; it would show my level of self-esteem. I didn’t want to be called anorexic because I knew I was healthy. The conflict that I wanted to keep for myself was now going around school. “She wants to lose more weight!” was now all around the corridor. I stopped listening to all of the people around me; it was time for me to stop the conflict inside me. It was time to raise my self-esteem and not worry about my weight. My weight wasn’t going to be a rumor. I went back to everyone who mentioned my name, talked behind my back. “You don’t get to talk about what brings me down. It’s my business. Not yours. My self-esteem is already low according to some personal things. You don’t have the right to be a part of it. I am NOT bulimic or anorexic.” People started to understand.

Today, I weigh 40.5 or sometimes 41 kg. If I lost weight, I would feel happy but I know for sure that weight shouldn’t be the thing that sets your self-esteem. Numbers on a scale shouldn’t matter. What people tell about you, what the scale says about you, all those things don’t matter. I learned that self-esteem doesn’t come with the way you look. “I am beginning to measure myself in strength, not pounds. Sometimes in smiles.”*

Ela Dayanıklı

*Halse Anderson, Laurie. (2009) Wintergirls. New York, NY: Penguin Books. pp.275.