I used to be fat. We're not talking about "Does this make my perfect, pert little butt look fat?" fat. We're not talking chubby. We're talking "Quit laughing at my four chins, or I'll sit on you and you'll instantly die of massive internal bleeding."

I was 16 years old, 5'4 tall, and 225 lbs. My waist was forty inches around. I couldn't wear skirts because my mammoth thighs rubbed together and chafed. Strangers thought I was my mother's sister. I was fat.

Obesity isn't just a physical disease. If it were, all the obese people would get over it, lose the weight, and we'd all wear size 0 dresses. The weight loss industry would go bankrupt. Obesity is a psychological disease. It is a downward spiral leading to more chocolate cake and more misery.

When a mother tells her 11 year old daughter that the child's legs look like tree trunks, that won't help. Sobbing that "I wasn't supposed to have a fat child... You look 5 months pregnant!" won't do anything but make her reach for the cookies while fat tears roll down a fatter face. Taking a 14 year old to Weight Watchers meetings is cruel, no matter how good the intentions are. Obesity is bolstered by the weight loss industry. It makes obese people feel as if their only hope is a mixture of chalky powders and sugar-free foods. When this doesn't work, it's easiest to drown the sorrows in a roll of frozen cookie dough and watch 10 more pounds accumulate.

Nothing you can buy will make you lose weight permanantly. Nothing.

When I was 16 years old, I stared at my pasty body in the mirror. I realized that my legs had not seen the sun in five years. I wanted to wear a pair of shorts. I wanted it bad. I started drinking water, and lots of it. No more soda, no more juice (too much sugar!), no more sugar and cream with a little coffee on top. I cut out sweets altogether. I ate chicken, rice, fresh fruits, vegetables, and plain bagels. Instead of talk shows after school, I took long walks. Soon I was hiking. My body began to change. I had only two chins... then one. My bra size went from 42DD to 34D. Over two and a half years, my dress size went from 24 to 8. I am not a fat chick anymore.

But a few months ago I bumped into two jerks I knew in high school. They hit on me, and I tried to place their faces. When it hit me, my body went cold. I asked them if they remembered me. They laughed.
"You were the fat chick?"
They didn't believe me until I showed them the name on my driver's license. They didn't know what to say. Neither did I, so I asked them to leave me alone.

When I see fat people chowing down in the Food Court, I don't feel repulsed. I don't feel contempt. I've been there, and it's a bad, bad place. Fat people are people too.

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