#MyBodyStory is a weekly series of reader submitted pieces about what it’s like to live in your body.
If you have a story to share, please email : [email protected]
Remember, every body tells a story.
And now, without further ado,
Here is Spree’s story.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been skinny.
No matter how much I ate as a child, I always stayed the same size. Now for most people, the idea of eating anything you want, while staying practically the same size, is a dream come true. But for all of my childhood life, up until my early twenties, I was insanely self-conscious about my body. It was around kindergarten where I was made aware that my body wasn’t like the “normal” kids. From the first day of school, I was the target of jokes and taunts by my peers. Names like “skinny head” & “stick man” became an everyday occurrence in my adolescent life. I was bullied and intimidated by bigger kids because of my size, and there were so many times that I dreaded going to school the next day because of the teasing. Time and time again I would run home to my mother crying about the taunts. And time and time again she would try to console me and make me feel better by saying that both her and my father were small and thin when they were kids too, but it didn’t help much.
I would just be reminded of how different I was as soon as I went back to school the next day.
And the constant teasing and taunting didn’t just end with my classmates. Routinely I would be out with my mother, and everyone from her co-workers to members of our church would make comments to her about my weight and size.
But they wouldn’t just say it to her alone, they would say it to her while I was standing right next to her.
“Are you feeding him?”
“Is he sick?”
“That boy needs to put on weight.”
“He needs some meat on those bones.”
These were just some of the many comments, that as a child, I had to endure from adults. There is one memory that stands out to me in particular. When I was 8, a dentist told my mother that I was unhealthy and needed to gain weight. I was right there, but he spoke to her like I wasn’t in the room. Hearing my mother’s friends say things freely about my weight was one thing, but hearing a medical professional tell me I was unhealthy…it stuck with me for a very long time. He made me feel different, like there was something seriously wrong with me, and that maybe all my classmates had been right all along.
All of these things led to a life of me being self-conscious about my body, and a lack of confidence in myself in general throughout my childhood. I’d attribute all of my “failures” to my body.
The girl in my class laughed at me when I told her I liked her?
Must be because I’m skinny.
I didn’t get picked for the basketball team?
Must be because I’m skinny.
I was made to believe that my body wasn’t acceptable, and for a long time I believed it.
I hated any sport or activity that made me take off my shirt or wear shorts. I knew the minute I took off my shirt, or donned a pair of exercise shorts, that I would be teased and made to feel inferior. And even if my fear of being teased in a specific situation didn’t end up happening, in my head I was always sure that people were talking about my size behind my back. These fears made me so self-conscious and not at all comfortable within my own body.
I was often the target of bullies in school because I was smaller and they thought they could get away with it.
Every year I was forced to choose between standing up to a bully and fighting them so I wouldn’t get picked on anymore, or standing down, which ultimately let them torment me for the remainder of the school year. My scholastic years became a constant cycle of fighting bigger kids (with the constant threat of being beaten to a pulp), or practicing the art of avoidance so I wouldn’t have to fight.
Truthfully, I owe a lot to finding music.
Music not only became something I found out I was good at, but it gave me confidence in all areas of my life, including coming to terms with my body. I’d write songs about the pain and fear I had gone through growing up, and in turn it became something akin to therapy for me. Music became my outlet without me even knowing it.
I started to gain a better sense of my uniqueness and how special I was through my art.
When I was about 19 or 20 years old, I finally started becoming comfortable taking off my shirt and going swimming. I started playing sports without being self-conscious and fearful that people were talking about me or teasing me behind my back. This was about the time that I really got into making music. And looking back, music probably ended up saving my life. It definitely saved me from years of depression, mostly because I was able to channel all that pain into a creative outlet. I never got a chance to take the pain out on others or on my own body. I just remember this time being a REALLY big deal for me. Knowing I was creative and unique began to lead me to feeling ok with the body I was born with, and this felt like such a huge accomplishment.
Now I’m not saying that I never think about my body ever. I’m in my early 30’s and compared to most men my age, I’m still pretty small. I still have days where I wish I was bigger in frame than I am now. But no matter how much I eat or work out, I’ll only get but so big.
What helps ground me is realizing that this is the only body I have. And If I don’t take care of it, appreciate it, and ultimately love it, I’m not only doing it a great disservice, but I’m ultimately doing a great disservice to myself as well.