A Shadow Of Acceptance: Growing Up Overweight

on Thursday, Feb. 2nd


The following originally aired on KQED-FM.

By: Derek Williams

I’m so bowlegged that my older brother says I look like I’ve been riding a bull since the day I was born. I stand five foot seven and weigh 380 pounds.

Some days when my knees are giving me a lot of pain I’ll look over at my shadow doing a slow pigeon toed wobble down the street, and I just think to myself how gross and unhealthy I look.

Being overweight is something I’ve dealt with my whole life. Names like doughboy and fatty used to really get to me. But even when kids weren’t being mean, I felt isolated. In the 3rd grade my class took a field trip for Chinese New Year to the Empire Buffet. Chinese food is my favorite, and I was so excited, but then came the bad news…we had to walk eight blocks to the restaurant. Sweaty and out of breath, I eventually stopped to sit on a fire hydrant. I remember the look  on some of my classmates’ faces when they had to stop and wait for me. I had never felt worse in my life.

I’ve come a long way since then and have my mom to thank for a lot of that. I remember she once told me, “You’re fat simple as that, and until you’re ready to put in the hard work to change, you might as well be the cutest fat boy in the game.”

Some people in my life worry that if I accept myself the way I am, that it means I don’t want to change, but what they don’t understand is that the only way I can lose weight is to do it from a place of strength, not shame.

I’m accepting myself for who I am now, not what I wish to be or what I may become in the future, keeping in mind that wherever I go, my shadow will be there. Except now when see it, my shadow doesn’t have a negative hold on me. Instead I smile to myself and think, what a fat black beautiful bowlegged young man.

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