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The Pumpkin in a Zucchini Family

Updated on August 26, 2013
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One of my brothers put me on my first weight loss diet when I was twelve years old. I was 5’5” and weighed, in the vicinity of, 150 pounds, no more than that. As I look back, I wasn’t that heavy; I‘d welcome weighing 150 pounds now. My brother told me that I needed to lose weight, because boys don’t like fat girls. That was the beginning of my now forty-three year struggle with trying to be something that I’m not; I’m not thin!

I was the only person in my immediate family that had an overweight problem. My parents and three brothers all had an underweight problem. It was like I’d been accidentally switched at birth, and the other baby was with my chubby family, and I was growing up with the other baby’s family. I was a big fat pumpkin in a skinny zucchini family.

The thing that gets me is that all the negative things that were said to me by my own family, became how I viewed myself. I’ve never been allowed to accept myself the way that I am. I’m not thin, but I’ve been made to believe that I should be. The more I’ve tried to be thin, the heavier I’ve gotten, and I gain the weight back twice as fast as I lose it. I weigh 200 pounds again. This time last year I weighed less than 140 pounds, and I was trying to get below 130 pounds.

To this day, when my weight is down, I feel better about myself, and I don’t mind being around people, but if my weight is up (Like it is now) I tend to hide myself away, and only go where I absolutely have to, because I’m embarrassed of myself. I’m embarrassed of myself because others have put that burden on me to be embarrassed of myself.

My dad thought it was funny to tell people that if I got any bigger he’d have to buy my clothes at a tent factory. That wasn’t funny, it was humiliating. One of my brothers liked to embarrass me in front of his friends, he’d say, ‘My little sister’s not fat, she’s just got thick skin.” And I was so happy the day that I got a new nickname besides “Punkin”, it was, “Sweat hog.”

My mom never said negative things to me about my weight, but she would lovingly make excuses for my fatness. She would tell people that I had a thyroid problem, or that I was ill and it was contributing to my weight gain. I was neither ill nor did I have a thyroid problem. I just wasn’t naturally thin like the rest of my family, but mom had to treat it as if there was something wrong with me.

Last year (2012) when I had gotten my weight down (Again), my mom told me that I looked great and that she was very proud of me. I thanked her and then I shared the fact that I was tired of having to starve myself in order to keep my weight down. Her reply was not quite what I expected, she said, “But it’s worth it!” My mother told me that it was worth it for me to starve myself in order to keep from being fat. I’m sure my mom spoke before she thought about what she was saying, but once words have been spoken, it’s too late, you can’t retract them.

I’m fifty-five years old now and I’m sick of trying to be something that I’m not. I’m not, by nature, a thin person. And as for what my brother told me when I was twelve, “You’d better lose weight, because boys don’t like fat girls!” Well, he was wrong, because when I was seventeen, and I had dieted myself up to over 170 pounds, I met the love of my life; my first boyfriend, Tony, and he loved every ounce of me. He accepted me just the way that I was, and for the few short years that we were together I was free to just be me. I have revisited that timeframe in my life many times through out the years, and I have always regained a sense of peace by doing so.

We don’t know when we come in to someone’s life what kind of burdens others have put on them, but if we could be like Tony (For example); loving and accepting, and an encouragement to just be who they are, we might be making all the difference in their life. A positive influence even if for a short duration of time, can be a place of comfort in someone’s pain.

It was no fun being a pumpkin in this family of zucchinis, but if I could have at least been allowed to accept that I was a pumpkin, way back when I was young, I wouldn’t be fifty-five years old now still struggling to be something that is not natural for me.

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    • motherofpearl profile image
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      motherofpearl 5 years ago

      It means a lot to me for you to tell me that. Thank you!

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