- Posted October 30, 2013 by
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This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
The Halloween fat-shaming letter might be fake, but this inspiring one is real
- Jareen, CNN iReport producer
A woman in North Dakota has decided not to give “obese” children candy for Halloween but rather a “fat letter”. In the letter, she is concerned about the child’s well being, blames the parent and hopes to help solve obesity…otherwise known as the crazy lady who lives on the street.
Listen, I have lost over 200 pounds and kept it off for close to five years. I am a clean eater and do not eat processed foods. I workout for about an hour or two a day. And this year for Halloween I am giving away…
Candy. Just like I do every single year.
I am not giving away toothbrushes. I am not giving away cheap toys. People might choke on them. I am not giving away pennies or books or anything of the sort. You might think I would, but my weight problem is not yours. Obesity is not solved by snarky remarks and letters but building up self esteem.
I am giving away Twix, Skittles and Crunch bars, like almost every person does for Halloween. I am giving these items to every child who comes to my door. I will buy too much candy and I will have three kids come over, like every year.
I am not going to judge the child at all. It is not my place to judge a child.
Because I was a kid once. And I wish people would have built me up instead of pointing out the obvious.
And I know what it is like when people “tried to help”…
"Maybe if I got cancer I would lose weight."
I was nine when I mumbled this. A kid. The age where kids go trick or treating.
I said the quote when my mom was talking to me about losing weight. This was in the 80’s and I was a kid. I did not know how to lose weight. I just knew I was fat.
Everyone told me I was. All of my friends and teachers told me I was fat. I ate too much. I was disgusting. I was made fun of.
I had no idea what I weighed but I knew it was more than other kids. I wore adult pants my mom had to hem down. I wore shirts that belonged to my dad. I wanted to lose weight and be like everyone else. But I was not like everyone else.
I was frustrated. Everyone in my house was thin but me. I could not stop eating. I was sick of people making fun of me. I was a kid. It was not fair! I would have done anything to not be fat! I was tired of the looks when I ate!!!
So I prayed for the worst thing I could. I watched a special on people who lost weight after having life threatening diseases. Maybe that was the only answer for me…..
And then I said it at the dinner table. I truly thought the only way I could lose weight was to have a disease.
My mom did not hear me say this. Who wants to hear their child say that? I have seen how cancer, diabetes and so many other diseases have destroyed lives and families.
No mother wants to hear their child say something like this. No mother should ever have a child think like this.
It is like a knife through your heart. It is devastating.
But I was nine. Like the kids who go trick or treating today. I was a kid in the 80's. Where diets consisted of Lean Cuisines and Diet Shasta. Where Richard Simmons was a hero for having overweight people on his workout videos where everyone else did not. Where Dexatrim was candy and maybe 10% of all food had nutritional information. There was no obesity epidemic then. Just one in my mind. One I could not get out of………
The woman in North Dakota is wrong. Writing a letter and judging kids is much more unhealthy than any piece of candy she could hand out.
I know this because I was the “fat kid”. The one who would have gotten the letter. And I would have looked at it and cried. Not because she told me something I did not know, but because as a kid, no adult needs to insult a child. It does not help, do not fool yourself and believe it does.
I am a food addict. Yet I am a weight loss success story. I have battled obesity my whole life. It is my battle. I refuse to tell others how to eat. I worry about myself and my family, not the neighbors.
And I am strong now.
No one told that to the nine year old boy. The one with no hope. I got told I was fat. And being told that never helped me lose weight. People believing in me and truly supporting me did.
I refuse to be condescending to others. Giving candy out is not promoting obesity. Giving apples out is not promoting health. Giving anything out is participating in Halloween.
I will hand out candy like 95% of people. I will also hand out the letter above. I am not judging anyone because I need to look in the mirror at myself. I eat a certain way and that does not mean everyone needs to. And honestly, I know I cannot eat any. Other parents can do whatever they want with the candy. Halloween is not about the candy as much as the experience.
I still tell that nine year old boy inside me you do not need a disease to lose weight. You need to find every bit of strength in your body to fight the demons that stop you from being great. Give parents credit, they try as well. The media makes it out like it is a buffet slinging rootin tootin time for all. But self esteem is more important that insults.
No one deserves to be told they are “the fat kid”. It is not tough love. It is humiliating and honestly tough love is support when you need it, not demeaning comments.
And if the woman in North Dakota truly cares about the kids, she would do what every crazy neighbor does…
Turn off her lights and not participate.