Words: Alysha Herrmann
My body did nothing to you.
Does anyone else remember being weighed in PE class at school? Do they still do that?
I’m not sure, but I think this is where one of my high school nicknames began.
Fatty Number Two.
I still don’t know who Fatty Number One was.
Although I don’t remember what I weighed and therefore can’t tell you my BMI or any surface indicator like that – I can tell you that I walked to school every day and I was the second fastest in my class in the 100 and 200 metre sprints. And looking back on photos from that period – I wasn’t fat at all** – I was healthy and beautiful.
(**And even if I had been, clearly Fatty Number Two was not an appropriate nickname for anyone to be gifted with!!)
Yet I believed I was fat, because I’d been labelled fat and therefore fat I was. My relationship with food quickly became an unhealthy dance between eating nothing and shovelling in a chocolate bar where no one could see me. My body was a source of shame, something to be covered, hidden and punished.
As I entered the official ‘teen’ years, I hit puberty early and was one of the first girls in my class to have breasts. And even once the other girls joined me, I remained one of the bustier in my age group throughout high school. Cue bra strap pulling and another new nickname ‘socks’. I had a boy in Year 9 date me for a week just because he wanted to confirm that my breasts were real and not a bra full of socks/tissues.
My body just refused to conform. Refused to let me disappear into the background, however much I wanted it to. I spent less time eating and more time pretending to eat. The secret chocolate bars disappeared. Yet rather than becoming smaller, my body betrayed me and I actually started to gain weight.
I felt trapped. Trapped and fat and ugly. Undesirable. Undesirable in a world which told me being desirable was the road to love. My body had become a battleground, though I don’t remember ever signing up for the war.
Your name, here.
Ready to stand
Border to border
With shaking hands.
We march, together
From the skin we live within
The smile lines that coat hands
Faces, familiar spaces.
Histories into scars
Bodies into boxes
Heroes into holes.
With lips that shake
Eyes that remake
To measure by.
I intend to write about the turning point in my war with my body next month – but I wanted to ask you all, what has been the turning point for you or someone you know? And if you haven’t found the turning point yet, what do you think would help?