When I was 6 years old I was obsessed with gymnasts. I wanted to learn how to move my body like they could. My mom, when she finally noticed my obsession wasn’t going away, did some asking around and found a local studio that had a gymnastics class for children. Unfortunately it wasn’t cheap, and we were poor. But she saved up for months, I don’t know where she found the money, but she did, God bless her. When we finally went to sign up I entered the gym and it was like angels were singing. I saw the other little girls and a couple of boys working on their moves and I felt like my heart would burst with happiness. I was going to be HERE! I was going to learn this!
The instructor came up to us and talked to my mom, I didn’t hear much of what what was going on, my senses were too focused on the other kids. But all too soon my mom grabbed me and said “Come on, we’re leaving!”. I said “Why?” and she wouldn’t answer, she just said again “come on”.
Finally out in the car I saw my mom loose her cool and slam her hands against the steering wheel. ‘Oh no’, I thought, ‘maybe the fee was higher than we thought’.
I asked her what was wrong. And she looked at me, she was on the verge of tears, and said “He says you can’t join”.
My throat tightened and I managed to croak out “Why?”.
"He says you’re too fat", she said, and looked away from me and I think she was starting to cry. After a few minutes and some deep breaths my mom jammed her keys in the ignition and started the car. “Fuck him!" she said, as she sped out of the parking lot.
I was shocked, my mom never said that word, at least not around me. And I knew that it must be serious.
As she drove home we sat in silence. I remember trying to think of what to say, but not understanding what it was about me being fat that made me unacceptable to be with those kids in the class, to not be allowed to do what they were doing.
But I was too fat, that’s what he told her. And soon, at that tender age of six, I began my first diet and my decent into self loathing, body hate, and depression.
That was the first time I was told I couldn’t do something because I was too fat. But it was far from the last time. The same type of scenario would repeat itself over and over again in my life. I was told I was too fat when I wanted to join the softball team, and when I wanted to learn to ice skate, and when I wanted to join various other sports and physical events.
Until finally, in my early teens, I just stopped asking. By that time I had been told that so many times that I knew the answer and there was no need to ask. I was too fat.
My desire to learn sports became my complete and utter hate for it. By the time I got into high school I loathed all things sports related. I hated the athletes and what they were allowed to do. I hated the worship of athleticism in my school and couldn’t stand to look at the jocks. It was all around me and a constant reminder of something I wanted so badly for so many years, but a world I was constantly shut out of, the door slammed in my face.
But now, years later, there are these fantastic amazing people that I’m learning about. These Fathletes. Fat athletes.
And seeing what their bodies can do, things I can only dream of. I cry and die a little inside and wonder how much different things might have been for me, if just once instead of being told “no you can’t”, instead being told “yes, you can”.
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