14 September 2012
When did I first Know Reader 1
However, I didn't really have any context for the implications of my proportions until the age of 10. I was invited to the birthday party of a girl who had recently started at my elementary school. I was the only new school friend she invited, the other dozen or so party guests were all from her old school and were strangers to me. We were doing some kind of a game seated in a circle when my "friend" blurted out for the group "Doesn't Marie look like she was cut off at the knees?". Lovely.
The comments continued into junior high. Another friend told me that she had asked her mother why I was built so differently. Her mother, who was an RN, told her that some kids have chromosomal defects that cause the growth of their legs to stunt in adolescence. What an ignorant and hurtful remark. It's clearly genetic; my dad and all his siblings (male and female) have similarly disproportionate bodies.
In high school the remarks intensified. I did have a fair amount of friends and was even at times in popular circles. I also had some boyfriends and was viewed as "cute". But I was also shy and sensitive and made myself an easy target for all those kids who loved to bully. I was teased daily about my body and was called "low rider" by the meaner kids.
I'm happy to say that the public commentary has declined in my adult years but there are still enough comments (from friends and from strangers) that I'm well aware my body hasn't actually changed. Only the maturity of those around me has changed. I do control what I can by keeping myself in much better shape than I was ever in as a kid, which helps to make my proportions less obvious. I even enjoyed a few especially fit years where I was approached often with questions about my workout routine and diet and compliments about my shape. Sadly, I've let my fitness level slip, I'm still lean but not nearly as fit, and my proportions have become more obvious again.
To this day I am plagued by the memory of those many comments and I view myself as slightly deformed. Though it reads as such mine is not a completely unhappy story. I'm slowly learning to embrace other aspects of my body and to appreciate that I have always enjoyed excellent health and strength from this body. I'm trying to take the good with the bad. And, despite the somber tone of this email, I'm a happy (and sometimes funny) woman who is lucky enough to be surrounded by an amazing family and friends.
I do believe that I would fit in among the more disproportionate of your readers. I certainly hope that most, if not all, were spared the level of attention that I had to endure. My hope is that sharing my story, will help your readers (and you) feel a bit better about their own experiences.