Only those who have been there understand. The agonies of adolescent obesity. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury? Look at this tangle of thorns.

I feel like this must be prefaced with the following disclaimer: so deeply rooted is the hurt, so deeply buried is the truth. The path to normalcy begins with a blind acceptance and a willingness to do whatever makes “normal” possible.

I believe it is impossible for the truth to be spoken, objectively or rationally. I still bristle at the inability–at the refusal–to recognize the similarities between pathologies like alcoholism, addiction or psychosis. And the idea that the damage caused remains insulated, affecting only one person, is disingenuous or, more likely, another form of denial.

So deeply rooted is the hurt, so deeply buried is the truth. I’m not sure it’s my place to out the casual ties of this internal war. I can only, with any integrity, speak about myself.

My whole life, my self-esteem, who I am, has a perfect inverse relationship with my weight. The less I weighed, the better person I was. And it it didn’t matter how it was achieved. Anorexia. Bulimia. Alcohol in lieu of eating. I suffer from body dysmorphia and cannot see myself without having revulsion for a body so distorted by obesity that it will never be normal to me. I still flinch when a lover touches my abdomen, distended and forever changed by what I once was.

Lovers, friends, I rarely appear shirtless without necessity of the situation. Shirtless only with the dysfunctional shield of intoxication.

So with this problem, these problems, how can i possibly say my relationships are unaffected by it. Surely my revulsion has been noticed by my lovers. By my kids. And how are they to believe, “I love you no matter what,” when I clearly hate myself?

The truth is I would rather be dead than fat again. And I know it’s wrong to feel this way. My twenty-year weight loss camouflaged in the correct clothing makes my weight control a success story. Unfettered access to the recesses of my memory would undoubtedly show the monsters that made me fat so many years ago.

This only looks like success.


Image: Grant Cochrane /



  1. Not only did I have to deal with this issue in school, but basically from birth. A while back, one of my main tormenters from high school found me on FB and we reconnected as adults. I wanted to see if he would be any different now. He made snarky comments about Aretha Franklin’s weight, Oprah’s fluctuating weight and anyone else’s weight he could insult. Then, out of the blue, he died from a heart attack. My only reaction, as a mature, adult was “good”. My name is Barbara Broido and I certify this is a true story.

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