Warning: This will break your heart

The following comment has been sitting in the moderation queue for weeks because none of us have felt capable of handling what it does to us emotionally:

im 13 years of age and im fat, obease even im 4″11 and im 12st 7lbs and i HATE it.. ive been thinking about straving myself but then i read all these things about starvation and it scares me.. my mum went from 13 stone to 9/a size 8, she doesnt really bother to help me anymore she just says im getting bigger and bigger.. then i look at my sister and shes so slim and beautiful i mean why couldnt i be like her? sometimes i hate my life.. and now im goin into year 9 im dredding it to be honest, all the abuse and the name calling im going to get.. i promise myself when i break up for the summer holidays i will exercise everyday but i know when the time comes i wont. I dont mind the exercising bit, just the eating part, its like im on my own and there no-one to help or support me it really does depress me i mean i never like to do p.e because ino im not fit enough to do it.. teachers in my school have offered to help me lose some weight but i never try my best i always give up. i cry almost everynight because of my weight and i just want to be like my mates and fit in, and liking a boy isnt easy either.. having deep feelings for him and he either doesnt care or whatever because of my weight im fed up of getting treated like “the fat kid” or “fatty” i wish i was dead sometimes, a few months back i tried to take an overdose, i think i’d be better of dead and im not scared atall of dying, i dont want to here like the way i am, i understand im a child with alot of trouble but no-one knows that, my mum doesnt know i cry everynight, or im troubled atall. Ok yeah, i love my computer its my hobbie togo on my computer, im never off it and of a saturday i just sit on my chair all day. I just wish there was someone, another fat child like me i could talk to, over the internet or letter. I just wish i could lose weight so much.

Yeah, I have the supreme hubris to write an advice column here, but you know, I get to pick the ones I feel competent to answer. I’m not competent to answer a punch in the gut. So I’m kicking it out to you guys, in the hopes that the hive mind will deliver.

We’ve already talked about what you would tell your 14-year-old self (a post that stemmed from a similar call for help on Big Fat Deal). And Aunt Fattie’s very first column dealt with a daughter who was getting hassled about weight by her mom. But since this actually appears to be a letter from my 14-year-old self (okay, I wasn’t British, but I was fat and suicidal and desperately unhappy), I’m really at a loss. What does one say, besides “please stay here and read and let us take care of you”? What would I have wanted to hear?

This is the best I can do:

Being 13 is awful, for everybody. Being 13 goes away. Dieting has only a 5% success rate at best, but if you wait long enough, you have a 100% chance of not being 13 anymore. Things get better.

In fact, the only way to absolutely ensure that things never get better is suicide. That guarantees that you won’t see what life is like on the other side of 13, and life after 13 is so much easier. Maybe not for a couple of years, but it really is.

You guys, that’s the best I can do before I just run out of words, which is why I’ve been trying to formulate a response to this for weeks. I know you guys have more to give than “hang on, it gets better.” Please help out.

(Note: A reader wrote in to say that “life will get better unless you commit suicide” read to her as an endorsement of suicide. I can’t say I understand how it would, but let me be very clear that I am saying nothing of the sort. What I’m saying is the reason that suicide isn’t a solution for a teenager in particular — and of course it’s not a solution for anybody, but the reason it’s not a solution for a teenager in particular — is that it puts a halt to any possibility that life will ever get better. And life gets better after 13 for almost everyone.)

162 thoughts on “Warning: This will break your heart

  1. Seconding that being 13 is awful for everyone.

    To the letter writer:
    Did the weight just creep up on you, like during a time of feeling down? For me, I put on a lot of weight when I’m depressed, without changing what I eat or how much I’m doing. I’m not sure that anything can be done about it except to see someone about being depressed. There really are therapists out there who are understanding and will help you work through stuff and will not just sit there and tell you to lose weight to feel better about yourself.

    It’s good just to move for the fun of it. Don’t worry so much about “exercising” for now; find stuff that gets you moving that you like to do – dancing, walking, whatever. Your body can do amazing things, please don’t forget that.

    Much love and hugs to you. I’m happy you came to a community like this for support.

  2. Here’s what I have:

    Tell someone. Tell your mum you cry every night, and you sometimes think of dying. If your mum won’t listen, or if you can’t bear to tell her, tell a teacher or a counselor or SOMEONE. Don’t be alone in this.

    It’s hard to be fat for all the reasons you say—people tease you and you feel isolated and all of that—but it’s much harder to be alone. The most important thing in the world for you right now is to get support. That’s much more important than your weight.

    Please. Get help. Don’t be alone. You deserve to be loved and you deserve to be helped and I beg you to reach out and find that for yourself.

  3. Dear 13,

    When I was 13 I was fat and depressed and wanted to kill myself, too. I’m 26 now, and I promise: IT GETS BETTER. Please don’t leave — I know you want to, sometimes, I know it just all feels too crushing to deal with, but hang on. You can do it, and we care about you and don’t want you to leave so soon.

    Don’t starve yourself. Nothing ever, EVER looks better, no problem is ever less crushing when you’re hungry. It is a thousand times easier to cope with everything life is throwing at you if you’re not also fighting your own body.

    Eat. Love yourself as best you can, and find people and places that make you feel loved. If that’s on the Internet, that’s fine. I escaped into books, myself — whatever works for you is good. Exercise if you want to, starting slow if you’re not used to it. Moving around is a good way to learn to love your body and what it can do.

    Most importantly, DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP because you don’t feel like you “try” or you’re not “doing anything.” You are doing something: you’re surviving in a psychological war zone. Just keeping your head above water, to switch metaphors, takes a tremendous amount of effort. Do what you can, and don’t feel guilty about what you can’t quite manage. It’s OK. You’re OK. You’re still here, you’re surviving day by day, and that’s the important thing. Truly, as Fillyjonk said, this shit will pass.

    So live, please. Find joy wherever you can. Eat, and nourish yourself, and outlast the bastards who try to tear you down. You can do it; you are doing it. You are strong (even if you don’t feel like it) and wonderful (especially when you don’t feel like it), and you not only deserve to live, you deserve to be happy. And you will be.

    love,

    Heqit

  4. I used to be you, sweetheart.

    I was the “fat kid”, the one who got teased and relentlessly punished for how I looked. My mother put me on ridiculous diets and told me all sorts of damaging, hurtful, painful things in the name of “helping” me to lose weight.

    When I look back on my pictures from that time, I want to cry. I was pretty, I was smart, I had a beautiful smile and lovely eyes and long, wavy hair. But I only ever saw an ugly, fat monster. I promise you, sweetie, I SWEAR TO GOD, that you are a lovely, lovely girl too, at exactly your size, and I am so sorry that no one has told you that before.

    Please, please, please, stay here. Let us hold you up. Let us help you see the beauty that you ARE, inside and out, and learn to love yourself.

    I lost a good friend to suicide, and trust me, it is not the answer. Not for you. Please, listen to Fillyjonk; the only thing that will make it impossible for things to get better is that awful choice.

    We are here. We will listen. We care about you. I promise.

  5. Being 13 is likely the most horrid age ever-but 15 was fantastic, and 17 KICKED MY ASS it was so awesome.

    And I’m a fatty. And was a fatty. I hate exercise, but I loved sports, and that kept me moving enough to love what my body could do-finding out what it can do is important. Liking me-I wish I could have liked me at that age as much as I like my fat self now. I look back and think “man, I was pretty”

    Cause you’re 13, and you are.

    All things pass, and you will grow into yourself. I remember staring at the little waif like girls, wanting to be them. Then noticing that they had nothing to say, and did nothing, while all my fat weird friends were awesome.

    I’d rather be interesting and happy than skinny, hungry and depressed.

    You’ll come through it. We all have. And we all know it sucks. Hang in there. It will get better.

  6. Well, I *am* British, so it really does seem like this is a letter from 14 year old me.

    What I would add to the undeniable and wonderful fact that you won’t be 13 or 14 forever, is that you are not alone.

    It might feel like you are alone, that you are the only person who has to deal with being like this, but you’re not. I too had a beautiful thin sister – a beautiful thin family, in fact, and I felt like a total freak, unnatural, unloveable, everything that you are feeling and have felt. I was a bit taller than you but I was also over 13 stone by the time I was 14.

    Try and believe that it’s not your fault, and that what you look like and how much you weigh has nothing to do with your worth as the wonderful human being you are. Because it doesn’t. And over time, you will meet more and more people who will get that about you.

    Children can be very very cruel, and my heart breaks to think of what you will probably endure in bullying and name calling. Try and remember that the name calling reflects on the people who do it, not on you. There is nothing wrong with looking different. There is nothing wrong with you.

    When life gets too hard, try and take refuge in things you enjoy; like your computer, or good books – my refuge was books.

    Children do grow up and get nicer – genuinely nicer, not just politer. You will have more friends. And you may not get romantic attention now, but that doesn’t mean you won’t ever – even if you weigh more, even if you don’t look like your thin sister. Honestly. There are hundreds of women here who will tell you that they found love, and many of them have been just where you are.

    Please please hold on, and try and love yourself. There have been times when I have been utterly suicidal – as a teenager and an adult. And I struggled through those times and since then have become happier than I ever dreamed possible. If I’d acted on those impulses, I never would have got through to become the stronger, better, more caring, happier person that I am today, enjoying life day by day.

    Also – I was 13 stone 3 by the time I was 14. You will probably get taller, and the older you get the better your weight will look on your body. If you diet, or starve yourself, you will only make yourself unhealthy, and you will end up putting on more weight in the long run. It won’t help you, it really won’t.

    We do care about you. We do understand. ***hugs***

  7. Ah, 13. That was a shitty age, for sure.

    Let’s see….for me, 13 was being 4’11, 200 pounds, and with gigantic size 12 feet. I looked like one of those balloon-letter Ls. I didn’t get teased, but that’s because I had no problem kicking the crap out of anybody who hassled me (I was – and am – kind of a bruiser). I also filled all of my time with music and studying and theater and a job….and stayed up all night, every night reading. I seriously didn’t sleep more than an hour or two for almost a year…which is not the best thing for overall health, I can tell you.

    Of course, when I was 13, my mom had her first psychotic break, so that sort of took precedence over a lot of the usual adolescent angsting for me. I don’t recommend it as a coping tool, but I suppose it probably saved me from some issues (while giving me a whole host of others).

    Anyway, my point is that….13 pretty much universally sucks. I’m a firm believer, though, that going through horrible periods like that helps build strong, resilient, amazing people. Getting through hardship taught me just what I am capable of, and how resourceful and smart and talented I am….maybe it can serve you the same way?

    Most importantly, if you’re contemplating suicide, I would strenuously suggest talking to a mental health professional. If your school has a counselor, that’s not a bad place to start – assuming you’re not comfortable talking to your parents first. If you’re not comfy talking to a counselor or your parents, there are hotlines here that might be able to help.

  8. I would add that even though 13 is awful for pretty much everyone, it does NOT make it okay to be crying every night or thinking about suicide. You definitely deserve to be much happier with your body and your life in general. I would suggest talking to your mom, or if you don’t feel like you can talk to her, to your dad or an aunt or teacher – some adult in your life who can help you. It would be a good idea to go to a doctor, so that they can evaluate you for depression and other things that may be causing such thoughts or even things that may be causing extra weight such as thyroid issues.

    Life is much better than it seems to you right now, and you deserve to enjoy it. There are people out there whose job it is to help you, and there are people in your life who love you very much and would not want you to be hurting like this. Please reach out for help.

    Also, remember that your body is still growing and developing. It is very unlikely that the body you have now is the body you will end up with. Your hormones are still figuring out what shape you will be, and how tall you will be and yes, how much you will weigh. But I guarantee the end result will make sense. Nature doesn’t make mistakes. Your body is the way it was designed to be. If you are not familiar with HAES, (Health at Every Size) you should read more about it. If you’re eating foods like fruits, veggies, and whole grains, and other things your body needs, your body and brain will be able to function at their best. You should try to be active as well – not to lose weight, but because it will make you feel more alert and in touch with your body, and it helps depression, too.

    Please hang in there. If you don’t do anything else, just hang in there. It WILL GET BETTER. Let time work its magic. Focus on the things you enjoy – you mentioned computers, and I’m sure there are other things – books, classes, games – spend time learning about those things. I promise promise promise it won’t be like this forever. I know it feels like things will never change but they will. And we’re all always here for support!

  9. OHHH, this is a lot like me at age 13. I still remember what it was like. I weighed between 11 and 12 stone when I was 13, so not that much less than you do (and I was only slightly taller).

    I’d give a bunch of medical advice about getting your thyroid checked and things like that that might be affecting your weight, but I know that I wasn’t ready to hear or deal with things like that when I was 13.

    I’ll second Deborah Lipp in saying, find someone you trust to tell about this, and get help. If you’re feeling suicidal it is not just being an adolescent, you’re depressed, and there are things to do that can help with that part.

    DON’T start trying to starve yourself. I tried that at age 12, and it DOESN’T WORK, trust me.

    I weighed about the same as you in middle school, and I was on the football team. So you’re not too fat to do p.e. and sports, IF YOU ENJOY THEM. If you don’t enjoy them, don’t stress about it, though. Find something that you do enjoy to do instead.

    Oh, and don’t stress about the boys, either. Weighing quite a lot in school does not mean that no boys will like you. I speak from personal experience. And if the boys you like don’t like you, that’s their loss, not yours. (I know, like hearing that helps at all, right? But it’s true anyway.)

    I may have more to say later, after I think about this some more.

  10. Dear Letter Writer,

    When i was 13 years old, my stepmum used to tell me that you couldn’t pay her enough to be that age again – she hated being 13. And i heard her, and i believed her, but i don’t know that i really understood just how right she was. I knew at 13 that 13 was just a miserable age to be, but i didn’t have 14, 15, or anything more than that to give me the perspective to understand just how much better things can get.

    I know it seems like death is so much easier, that it’s a way out. I can’t lie and say i’ve never considered it – hell, i can’t say i’ve never tried it. But i can tell you that you are not alone. So many of the people here, on the fatosphere, have been through situations very similar to what you’re going through right now.

    Please find help. If you and i were in the same space, i would sit and listen as long as you wanted me to, because i believe you are worth it – and i want you to believe it too.

  11. Please go to “Suicide: Read this First” http://www.metanoia.org/suicide/

    I have been/am depressed. I have hated my body. I have starved myself trying to make myself feel better, trying to make the depression go away. It doesn’t work. It makes it worse. Starvation makes depression worse. Whatever was difficult before becomes unbearable without food. It doesn’t matter if the kids don’t make fun of your fat anymore, because they talk behind your back about your eating disorder.

    It gets better, it really does. 23 is SO MUCH better than 13, in all aspects. It is so hard, I know that. Hearing “it gets better” isn’t that great because it hurts SO MUCH now. So know that this pain isn’t forever, but please, also get help for the pain you have now. A therapist, a school counselor, somebody. Don’t try to do this alone. I waited 15 years to get help. Please don’t do that to yourself.

  12. Get up out of the chair. Sitting in front of the computer all day is not healthy. Even if you just get up for 10 minutes an hour and go out side, reach up to the sky, lie on the grass, soak up the sun, walk around the block, wear sunglasses if you want to feel invisible (I’m 36 and i still do this) but be outside and move. And you may find that after 10 minutes you want to be outside more. The connection to nature can do a lot for your mood. And exercise gets your endorphins flowing which will make you feel better, too.

    Sometimes using the computer as an escape can be counter productive and make you feel more isolated. Talk to your mom if you think she’ll be supportive, journal (I look back at my journals from 13, 14, 15 and feel very sad for my young self.)

    And know that it does get better. It honestly truly does. I was made fun of in junior high and high school for my bangs, my teeth, the fact that I didn’t talk enough?! Some people suck. But it does get better.

  13. I …I was in the same boat. I don’t know if this is just my brain or what, but I barely ever think about high school any more. I remember the humiliation of PE – I think the importance is to find an activity you love and to GO for it, and bugger anyone else.

  14. Oh, sweetie. Many people love and like you for who you are and you’ll understand that at some point. Right now, if you have anyone that you can trust talk to, tell them exactly what you wrote in this letter and have them help you talk to your parents. If not, go to a school counselor.

    You can’t deal with this alone and I’m so glad you wrote this letter to get some outside adult guidance.

  15. I told myself at that age that if I didn’t feel good about myself fat, I never would feel good about myself. I didn’t listen to my own advice until much later after losing and gaining 100 pounds twice!

    Being 13 is awful. I know, because I teach middle school. Those thin girls you admire? They hate themselves, too! That’s why they make fun of you. It’s not about your size, sweetie, it’s about being 13. You’re feeling a need to fit in, to have boys like you. The only way you’ll do that is by being your own true gorgeous self!

    What everyone else says is true; find what excites you and dive into it. Find the people who love you and hold on to them tightly. Laugh until it hurts! Life is too short to hate yourself for any reason, particularly something you can’t change.

  16. Oh honey. Been there.

    Like Fillyjonk says, it DOES get better, I PROMISE.

    At 13, I was also one of the fat chicks. I didn’t do a lot of things that I wanted to do because I was fat. I got made fun of (the name I remember the most, the one that *really* hurt me was “Buffalo Wallow Woman”), I felt isolated and like nobody understood me. I had a hard time finding the cute clothes everyone else was wearing and when I did find something cute and stylish that would fit me, it didn’t LOOK the same on me as it did my skinny friends.

    Life did get better. The people around me got more realistic and tolerant (partly because they got more mature, partly because I chose to be around more realistic and tolerant people). I learned to worry less about how I looked and more about how I felt. I learned that exercise doesn’t have to be tedious and painful, and found exercises that I loved (in my case, yoga, dance, and swimming). As a result of all this, I got more confident and accepting of myself.

    Talk to someone. Would it surprise you to know that the vast majority of people go through their entire lives without ever seriously contemplating suicide? It shocked me. Attempting suicide is a BIG DEAL! It is a huge indicator that you need help and support. Talk to your Mom or a teacher or your school counselor or a friend, but please please please don’t continue to try to go through all this alone.

    Oh! The guy that called me “Buffalo Wallow Woman” back in school? He grew up. And apologized. The day I married him, I weighed 20 pounds more than I had back when he called me that hurtful name, and he thought there had never been a more beautiful bride in the history of the world. We’ve been married for 18 years now, have three gorgeous children, and NOBODY is more happy that I’ve finally learned to love my body no matter what my weight or jean size is than him.

    I promise, it does get better, and the immature little asshats that call you names now won’t always be immature little asshats.

    So find exercise that you enjoy, whether it’s dance, bike riding, walking alone in the quiet of the morning, swimming, or whatever. Take care of your body. Find things about yourself that you love, and work on loving the parts of yourself that you don’t right now. Surround yourself with loving, supportive people that will get mad at the asshats FOR you until you gain enough self-confidence to get mad at them yourself and who will be mad at the asshats WITH you once your self-confidence is up to par. Find places that sell clothes that you love in your size. If you can’t find those places, learn to sew and make your own one-of-a-kind clothes that you love or to alter clothes you love so that they will fit you. These things are all just band-aids on the bigger problem, but they will help you to gain the confidence to go on and address the bigger problem.

    Just do whatever it takes for you to “keep on keeping on” because life DOES get better. I promise.

    Pet~

  17. I, too, felt this way when I was 13. I had given up my main hobby (ice skating), and went from a US size 13 (still “straight” sizes, but way fat compared to my classmates) to a 20 within a couple of months. The friends I had were “frenemies” – the kind that hang out with you, but make you feel like shit. When I won an award, my classmates asked me if I won it in a pie eating contest and laughed at me. Kids on my bus oinked and mooed when I got on or off. It was hell.

    But a few years later, everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) got better. A lot of it was just people around me growing up and becoming less cruel, but a big help for me was finding something I loved to do and was good at it — in my case, classical singing lessons. Having something like that opened doors to places where my merit was more important than my appearance — places like choir class and singing competitions, where I was appreciated and respected for what I could do, not how I looked. It gave me common ground to talk to other people involved in the same activities and to make friends based on mutual love and support. But most importantly, it gave me a feeling of life being more than just the crap I had to put up with at school, and made me realize that those assholes weren’t the whole world. So, I would totally encourage you to look into things that make you feel good about yourself, that take your focus off your weight and put you in touch with people who will become your emotional support.

    And keep reading this blog. Please stick around, sweetie. I’m 30, have a wonderful husband and a great career, and am pretty self-confident (although I’ve never been thin, and I’ve never weighed less than 200 pounds since I was your age), but I still find massive amounts of stuff I need here every day. This caring community is here for all of us who’ve been right where you are. This is a safe, loving space. Welcome. *hugs*

  18. I think it’s also important to remember that even those skinny girls you envy probably feel shitty about themselves, too. They might be hiding their feelings, too. Society and the media (especially advertising) makes damn sure that girls/women don’t feel satisfied with their looks so that they’ll spend lots of money trying to achieve an impossible ideal. They want you to think that boys won’t like you unless you buy their expensive beauty/diet products. They want your money and that’s it. This message is so powerful that even adult women have trouble avoiding it. Unfortunately, you’ll have this message thrown at you constantly throughout your life and all you can do is surround yourself with caring people and avoid magazines/TV shows that make you feel like you’re not good enough. You are good enough. If people give you a hard time, it probably means that they feel bad about themselves. Just walk away. If that doesn’t work, then flip ‘em the bird. :)

  19. Hi 13!

    Yup. 13 totally sucks. And 14 or 15 might not be better (it wasn’t for me). But you know what is? 18, 19 and especially 23, 24 and on. You are pretty much exactly what I weighed when I was 13, and oh did I feel awful about myself! But it does get so, so much better. I agree with what others said about talking to someone. And come to Shapely Prose and the rest of the fatosphere as often as you need to! It really does help!

  20. Let me add to all the people who are saying “find your passion and do it”: whatever your passion is is okay. There aren’t pursuits that are better than others; if what you love right now is writing Firefly fanfiction or whatever, do that. You do NOT have to be a master pianist, an athlete, a math genius, or whatever the people around you seem to value. It matters whether you love it; it matters NOT ONE GODDAMN BIT what other people think about it, or about you for liking it. You don’t have to tell anyone if you don’t want to, but do the things that make you feel good regardless of whether you think they make you look good.

  21. I actually wrote a blog entry to my 16 year-old self. Here are some relevant excerpts:

    *Mary Flannery, age 16 Gets Advice from Mary Flannery-Scientist, age 27*

    *Whirr of a time machine popping into existence in rural Oklahoma, 1996*

    16yrMF: Um… holy crap? Who are you?

    MF-S: I’m you in a little over a decade.

    16MF: *sobs* Oh my god! I got so fat! And where the hell did all my hair go? At least tell me I achieved my dream of becoming a doctor!

    MF-S: Er…no, not exactly. Actually, you teach high school.

    16MF: *sobs hysterically* OH GOD! Do I wear pinafores? *pause for the realization of fresh horror* Wait–if I’m a teacher…that means I’M STILL IN THIS TOWN! *hysterics*

    MF-S: *annoyed* No, no, no. You’re in (city).

    16MF: (city)? That’s not much better…I didn’t even make it to (bigger city)! *crying*

    MF-S: Oh, but you did. You lived there–with (guy I had a crush on at the time), I might add–for a year and you HATED it. You worked three jobs. All were cool, but you were exhausted and needed more out of life than a publishing company, a bookstore, and the growing hatred of one of your best friends. And you were SKINNY, girl. SKIN-NY. And you know what? It really, really, really sucked.

    16MF: Huh? I’m so confused. So, in like several years, I’m still going to be friends with (guy), but we won’t get married like mom said? And I’ll be skinny but everything won’t be perfect? AND THEN I GET FAT AGAIN????

    MF-S: Oh GOD no you won’t get married. See, 16 year old me, you do this little thing called “growing up and being true to yourself.” As for skinny, you sit there and one day you realize, no size looks as good a healthy feels. And you say screw it and eat food and take care of your low blood sugar and your personality is so freaking awesome at that point that lots and lots and lots of people like you –even though you’re fat!

    16MF: I change?

    MF-S: You cannot begin to imagine how much you’ll change. True, you get fat. But you know what else you get? A master’s degree, a teaching job at one of the best schools in the country–it’s for poor smart kids!, an inside dog, a pissy cat, a cool house from the 1920s, more friends than you can keep up with–all of which are kind and devoted and cool and reliable, and best of all…you get married.

    16MF: Ok…either you’re me or you said you got married. It cannot be both.

    MF-S: No, really! You know that guy you made up in your head as, like, the perfect imaginary guy?

    16MF: How do you know about that?

    MF-S: I’m you, remember?

    16MF: Oh, right.

    MF-S: Anyway, this guy you get married to is actually way cooler than THAT.

    16MF: Not possible!

    MF-S: Possible! He doesn’t have all those undesirable traits you threw in to make it more realistic. Sweetie…*caring arm around my shoulders* your expectations right now are awfully low. Wait until you blow this pop stand. Then you’ll see what REAL men are like. And real clothes. And real bookstores. And real museums. And real grocery stores. And real friends. And–

    16MF: Ok, ok, I get it. But…this isn’t anything remotely like what I planned.

    MF-S: It never is.

    16MF: One more thing…

    MF-S: Yeah?

    16MF: Do I ever get pretty?

    MF-S: You don’t change, but the beauty standard does. In a few years, there are going to be these women named “Kate Winslet” and “Beyonce” and “Jennifer Hudson” and “Nigella Lawson” and “Joy Nash.” You won’t know what hit you…

  22. When I was 13 I spent most of my time on my computer too. I did this thing called Free Form Role playing, which was basically hanging around in chat rooms pretending to be an elf or a vampire or whatever. I made friends there who accepted me for who I was, not what I looked like, and that was awesome. So if you can fidn some kind of online community to join like that then do it. (I’ve heard good things about Second LIfe.)

    Don’t waste your time or your emotions on people who don’t appreciate you. You don’t need their approval. I mean sure, it would make life easier, and it is hard to ignore your peers but ultimately what they think doesn’t mean anything. It’s what you think that matters. So try to focus on what you love about yourself and don’t be afraid to love yourself for it.

    Also, Re: Gym class. I can’t tell you how much gym sucked. My gym teachers were always on my ass too. Blech. Just thinking about it gives me the shivers.

    Keep in mind, some people are slower learners than others, and some people are slower at physical activity than others. It isn’t necessarily because of your weight. You may just need to get more in touch with your body, and learn to use it better. I am still figuring things out about using mine and I am twice your age.

    You might ask your Mom if you could sign up for some kind of outside of school activity. Not to lose weight, but just to get you to meet new people outside of your class, and learn some kind of skill. A beginners dance class, (belly dancing!) or a martial arts class could be really fun and you might meet some new people.

    Don’t be afraid to look stupid, a lot of people look stupid when they are learning.

    Whatever you do don’t let fear of other people’s opinions prevent you from enjoying your life!

  23. Please don’t leave yet! Not just because this community can maybe help you, but because the rest of us need to learn from you, draw inspiration from your strength and courage.

    Here are some of the kinds of things that people told me when I felt like an ugly outcast during horrid, horrid adolescence; or that I wish they’d told me. Some of them I didn’t believe, so feel free to disbelieve them as well. :) I’ve found them to be true in retrospect.

    Popularity now has very little to do with what kind of person you are later and whether you’re happy. Please don’t misunderstand me; I’m not saying life experience and your current trials don’t count for anything. That is, you might well be going through hell now and in the process gaining lasting strength, bravery, compassion, an ability to empathize with those who are suffering, etc. . All I’m saying is that having an interesting adult life spent with people who genuinely love you is simply NOT predicted by popularity at 13.

    Those confident popular kids feel awful about themselves too. No, really, they do. They are spending every second comparing themselves and their bodies to other people and other people’s bodies, checking their place in the rankings lest they slip a bit. They pick on other people to deflect attention from how terrified they are of losing whatever it is that makes them valuable. You, by contrast, are in a position to hit upon the truth that blows this whole sick enterprise out of the water: Either you just ARE valuable because you fucking EXIST, which means that everybody else is valuable because everybody else fucking exists; or else NOBODY’s valuable because nobody can meet these insane standards. Nobody. Ever. Meets. The. Standards.

    Some people make a hell of a lot of money by making thirteen year old girls (among others) feel miserable and unlovable, and they simply don’t care about the harm they cause. They’ve decided their money is more important. They’re wrong. They might never learn how wrong they are – most people don’t know how wrong those folks are – and that stinks. We need a revolution.

    Following on that: people who probably aren’t as compassionate or insightful as you regrettably have a lot of power over you right now, even down to how you spend every minute of your day. That also stinks. It won’t always be the case, but it can be helpful – it was for me – to find little oases (relationships, activities, special spaces, hobbies, etc.) where it isn’t the case.

    That boy you have such feelings for probably has no idea who he is. Inasmuch as you see him with tenderness and affection, you might well have a better idea of who he really is than he does.

    Just because you are suicidal doesn’t make you a sick, defective person who needs to be treated by specialists with special titles in a special building. It means you have perceived, quite correctly, that our culture whispers in ALL of our ears, “Only the pretty girls deserve to live, and you, missy, you’re not pretty enough.” That is a deadly (but moneymaking, for some) lie.

  24. I totally agree, Fillyjonk. And I think, whatever it is, it will bring you to people who think like you, love what you love, and will accept you with open arms, which can make things alot less lonely.

  25. Oh, I also want to add, DO SOMETHING nice for yourself. Right now. Take a walk in the sunshine (if it makes you feel better). Heck, just sit out in the sunshine. The sun really does do amazing things for our mood. (Wear sunscreen!). Take a bubble bath. Paint your toenails. Lay down with a warm washcloth over your face. Throw all your towels in the dryer and then throw yourself on the pile of warm fuzziness when they get out. Get a snazzy new haircut. These are not long term solutions, but they keep you going.

  26. Boundaries were a really big thing for me when I was 13. I didn’t like any of the places where I was allowed to be or almost any of the people that I interacted with on a daily basis.

    Maybe you could try and think of some places that you’d like to go or new activities to try, and then talk to your mom about whether or not you’d be allowed to. Academic and band competitions gave me a reason to hang out with people after school or on the weekends and teasing seemed to be a lot better then just because the other kids involved seemed to be wrapped up more in what we were doing than how anyone looked. Trips to libraries, museums, and parks were amazing to me at 13 because I lived out on an isolated farm and rarely got to go places other than school or the store with my mom. Look online and see if anywhere around you needs volunteers. A lot of times, teenagers are welcome to volunteer as long your parent gives you permission. Working with animals, plants, kids, elderly people, etc can expose you to a much bigger (and more fun) world.

  27. Oh dear. My heart breaks for you. I say that not in a patronizing way, but from someone who knows what it’s like to feel exactly the way you do.

    The good thing is there are plenty of us you can talk to…and we’ll talk back. I’m 26 now, but I know what it’s like to be 13 and in your situation. So if you ever want to e-mail me, you can (kimsaks86@gmail.com). I’m open to communication anytime–day or night. So if you want to talk to someone who has been fat her whole life and knows what you’re going through, but best of all, what’s a head of you, then drop me a line.

    That being said you have so much to live for. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but you do. My life at 13 was a mess as well (I think most people feel this way for one reason or another). Your size does not define you. Listen to the wonderful women and men on this site and take it all in. I can’t say anything better than they have, but know that we’re all here for you.

  28. Being a teenager sucks for everyone, whether you look like a model or not. Absolutely everyone is insecure in their teen year, even those who pretend they’re not. It does get better as you grow up even though I never believed my mom & dad when they told me so. I believe it now. Being a teenager is sucky, but there is a 100% chance of outgrowing you teenage years.

    I agree that you should tell someone how unhappy you are. Tell you parent, a trusted teacher, a friend just tell someone! It’s ok to ask for help when you can’t handle your feelings alone. Develop your friendships with your most trusted friends who love you for you!

    My way to feel better about myself when I feel yucky for any reason, but especially when I feel bad about my body, is to get enough sleep, get more exercise and find out what my can DO (I feel better when my body moves more & I’m proud that it can dance, stretch, hike a long way and lift a fair amount of weight even if I don’t look like an airbrushed, photoshopped magazine cover). I also feel better when I eat more fruits & veggies, more home-cooked meals and less processed foods like instant meals, fast food, sweets and crisps. I also call my closest friends and spend more time with them when I need them.

    Take care of yourself and be gentle to yourself.

  29. Being 13 is so hard. I’m not sure there’s a 13-year-old girl out there who doesn’t hate her body. I wouldn’t doubt they exist, but I’ve never met one. I certainly wasn’t one.

    Please don’t do anything that is going to hurt your body. I thought I was much too fat at 13. So I ended up basically starving myself and exercising obsessively, until after a few months I was so exhausted and anxious that I began having heart palpitations and panic attacks. And, was exactly the same size. I wish I could have loved myself back then and been good to my body.

    One thing I had to learn is that it’s okay to get angry. Not at yourself, because you aren’t doing anything wrong. But it’s not only okay to be really freaking pissed at people (and at a society) who tell you that you need to look or be a certain way, but it’s a good thing. All of the hate you’re aiming at yourself and your body doesn’t belong there. Sometimes the best antidote to being depressed is letting yourself get angry. It’s hard to be 13, and the society we live in makes it so much harder, and I think every 13-year-old girl around should stop hating themselves and be hopping mad at a world that does whatever it can to not let them be who they are. Sometimes loving yourself means, at least for a while, getting angry at the world trying to stop you from doing so.

    The things that saved me at 13 and 14 were learning to play the guitar and writing angry baby-feminist poems and making art out of mutilated Barbie dolls and Sassy magazine (skinny models and all) and finding like-minded friends. And then I mellowed at 16 or 17 and was able to love myself and others without being so angry, but I totally needed that period of wanting to do nothing but give the finger to anybody who would tell me how I was supposed to be. So, I’m not sure if this is the best advice or not (luckily my child isn’t a teenager yet, so I have no practice!), but I say get angry. Turn all of the hate you are piling on yourself outward, and you may get motivated to find creative, productive ways to express it.

    But, like everything else, that’s easier said than done.

  30. I smiled when FJ asked us to come up with something more productive than, “it’ll get better,” because sometimes, that’s really all there is!

    First, I’m hugging you. Because everyone needs hugs, and they stimulate warm and fuzzies in the brain. But I’m also agreeing with other people that you need hugs – or hug-like responses – from people in your everyday life, so it’s a VERY good idea to find someone you can reach out to. If you tell an adult in your life how bad you feel, and how lonely you are, they can help you find things in your area that will help. That may mean a doctor or therapist. If so, don’t be afraid, and don’t hold back. Too many people miss out on feeling better because they feel they can’t tell even their doctors or therapists the truth about how bad they feel. They can’t help unless they know, and they only way they can is for you to tell them. They want to help.

    For that matter, we want to help. Come back here often – pay attention to the stories these women tell about how they manage – every day! – to be proud, to stand tall, to do what they feel is best for them. 13 is hard because there are so many changes in your life and in your body. Knowing what’s best for you will get easier, but you have to learn to pay attention to that. And that can be hard, even when you’re 43, like me! Please don’t forget, no matter how fat you are, you deserve to be happy with your life. You deserve respect. You deserve kindness. You deserve to live.

    People are more complicated than they seem from the outside. Everyone has burdens, especially at 13. Someone has trouble in school, someone else is shy, someone else is fat, someone stutters, someone has a limp… all of these things may make life seem unbearable. But as you get older, you will find your own way to bear your own burden. And for that, there really is no other answer but to say: I know it’s hard. I wish I could make it easy for you – more than you could possibly know. Find something you enjoy doing and do it; then find two somethings. See if you can make one of them some form of exercise – walking, bicycling, swimming, dancing in your underwear in your bedroom! Not because it will make you thin, but because it will make you feel better. Be proud of your accomplishments. Focus on the things you do better than anyone else. Remember that boys can be weird, and just because you can’t find someone now who likes you as much as you like them, it doesn’t mean you won’t next month or next year. Being interesting will help with that, too – and that comes right back to doing things you like to do.

    Sorry this got so long. I remember 13. I remember how hard it was. But there are thousands of us (really!) ready to show you how good it gets if you don’t give up. Hugs, hugs, hugs!!!

  31. Amen, Sarah!! Geesh, I may need to print this out just to remind MYSELF of these things!! And I’m 29!!

    I love your conversation with yourself, Miz H!!

    I think the best way to get your mind off suicide is not just feeling passion, but thinking about something you truly, truly love. For me, it was my cats. I know that sounds a little corny, but it’s true. They’re my babies and I owed it to them to stick around. Plus, they were always beside me. Think about those you love and who love you. People DO love you and want you around. Maybe you have a little sister who looks up to you or even a pet!! Maybe you could help someone out who is less fortunate than you and who truly appreciates you. Those less fortunate people need nice people like you to help them.

  32. As everyone says, it does get better. And it continues to get better with every year, at least for me and I’m about to turn 31. Living well, just like every other skill, takes practice. And you actually have a head start on your peers because you are here and wanting to at least connect while they are taking the typical road of trying to fix their own lonliness by tormenting others.

    I would like to say that it gets better, but not just because other people get nicer. It gets better because YOU are more secure and more centered and more sure of who you are. You will have good relationships and bad ones and you will feel a wide range of things from sadness to joy but you won’t ever again have to be 13.

    There are communities online that you can join – this is one of them. These communities really DO want what is best for you – and starvation, especially during puberty when your body is still changing and developing, is NEVER what is best for you.

    Concentrate on your fitness levels instead of your weight. Do activities that you enjoy because you enjoy them. The more you move, unless there is something limiting your ability to move, the more you will be able to move. You don’t need gym class for that.

    And do talk to someone. Talk to us, to a school counselor, to a trusted family member. Being fat has nothing to do with your worth as a person – and it doesn’t mean you won’t be found attractive by a wide variety of people. If that were true, all the thin people would be in ecstatic relationships and none of the fatties would be married. But we are. *grin*

    Cultivate the things that bring you happiness. Eat well. Dress well. If clothes are hard to find, learn to make your own or alter other clothes. Fatties often have the most stellar fashion because they have to be a bit more creative. Put some thought into what clothes make you happy and then go on the prowl! Remember that clothes are supposed to be fun, as is makeup.

    Keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll find yourself in a different place – mental and possibly physically, before you know it. And you may not lose a single pound to do it but that weight won’t seem so heavy, metaphorically speaking, anyway.

  33. Hi, I don’t really have much to say here (not too articulate, doncha know), but if you want to talk to me on IM or over email, I’ve been in the same boat you are and I’d love to talk if you need someone to be a friend and support you.

    sorozan at gmail dot com is my GoogleTalk
    angelkris25 at hotmail dot com is my MSN

  34. I wrote: “Just because you are suicidal doesn’t make you a sick, defective person who needs to be treated by specialists with special titles in a special building. ”

    Oh shit, I just realized how dismissive that sounded of people who HAVE had inpatient psychiatric treatment. I’m sorry!

    What I was trying to say was that sometimes people (not people here) react to suicidal folks as though they are pathetic little broken people who have these sick, sick, sick, sick, sick and sccaaaaaaaary unacceptable feelings that need to be fixed by professional defective-feeling-fixers. And it’s like — well, gee, great, why don’t let’s ADD to this person’s mental catalogue of their own defects? That sure seems helpful. Sheesh.

    Anyway, sorry again!

  35. Dear Friend,

    I promise you that you are not a bad person. I know that every thing inside of you is telling you that you are awful, ugly, terrible, fat, unlovable. I know that you think, “if only the people on this site knew me, I mean really knew me, they wouldn’t think I was OK, they would see how terrible I am.” This is a lie. I don’t care how fat you are, what you think you have done wrong in your life, how people at school treat you. YOU ARE A GOOD PERSON, and all of the people on this site know it.
    Our stories are different from you’re own because they are not your story. But if you read all of our stories together, you will see there is one underlying theme: THIS TOO WILL PASS .
    As far as suicide is concerned, I could tell you about how my mother committed suicide and I still dream of walking into an empty house, hoping to see her, and then remembering she is dead, and balling my eyes out. I could tell you of the times I have been on the phone at the suicide hotline and talked to countless girls in your same situation. Instead I will tell you this. Suicide is the end. There are no more decisions to be made. There is no big mystery. It’s over. I don’t know where you will be, but you won’t be here to see your family mourn. You will leave the people you love, and the people who love you forever. It’s final. If you get to the point where you really think that you are going to do it, call a suicide hotline. We are not here to judge you. We are here to help. Call as much as you want. Here is a link to a list of international hot lines.
    Oh, and Friend? I am just an email away. Click on my name, and it will take you to my blog. Email me!!!!! I want to hear from you!!!!

    Love,

    Holli

  36. Dear 13:

    Here’s a secret that no one will ever tell you: the pretty kids, the thin kids, the popular kids?

    Chances are that they won’t amount to much.

    In my case, the prom queen and the head cheerleader and the valedictorian… the first two never left town, and the last one never became that nobel prize scientist that everyone wanted her to be. she ended up getting married too young. she actually told me, at a friend’s wedding 10 years later, that she envied ME, because I did everything that I ever said I would do. That they thought I was crazy but I was the only one who actually did what I said I would do.

    The prom queen and the head cheerleader… well, these girls who were held up to me as shining examples of young womanhood, have not exactly turned out to be very much. I’m sure they’re happy and have fine lives but a part-time aerobics instructor and a bookkeeper were not the goals I had in mind.

    The kids make fun of you because they’re scared and lonely and don’t have anyone to talk to, either. Not really. Making fun of you makes them feel powerful.

    This is not the best time of your life, no matter what anyone says. But the best time of your life IS coming. This time will teach you to be strong and know yourself and grow your imagination.

    Don’t worry about exercising, just go out and go for a walk, if you can, and if it’s safe. Or go somewhere like a park where you can walk. Just walk. Wear a hat and sunglasses if it makes you feel better.

  37. Dear 13 year old girl,

    My son was heavy until he hit the age of twelve and then he sprouted up and slimmed out. Twelve and thirteen were still the most miserable years he’s ever lived through. Becoming slimmer didn’t make everything better. He thought he looked awful anyway. Thirteen is just a really tough age. I know it was for me too. At fourteen, he started feeling better, and now, at fifteen he’s a generally happy person. From what I’ve seen, kids in highs chool are more accepting than middle school kids. I’ve talked with the moms of other 12,13, and 14 year olds, and they all tell me similar stories. Teens of all sizes are miserable at those ages. Even though it might look to you like your friends and other kids your age and all happier, they’re probably secretly hating something about themselves too.

    Also, your body will change. When I was 13 I was fat and always considered myself fat as I got older. But looking back at pictures, I see that by high school what used to be a fat pre-teen body had turned into a woman’s body. A cute one too! I wish I’d seen it at the time. You’re body isn’t through changing yet. In a couple years, you will probably look completely different. Dieting now could keep your body from developing properly and may even make you feel more depressed.

    Hang in there. I know it feel awful, but it really does get better.

  38. Please talk to someone about how you feel. They can’t fix all the things that feel like hell about your life, but they might be able to help you think about things a little differently or learn how to feel good in small doses even when things are really hard.

    13 is hard. Being a teenager is hard, as all of the commenters here can attest. But you know what I’ve found? The people who had a hard time when they were a teenager are WAY more interesting adults than the people who were happy in high school. You will learn about your own strength in ways that you can’t predict right now; if you hang around, you will learn so much more about what a deep and fascinating person you are, and how cool life can be. It is really hard now, and it might be hard for a while, but all of those hard times are going to make you an even more complex and thoughtful person later. I know that might not be much compensation right now, but it’s true.

    If you’re feeling like you’re bottling up a lot of negative stuff inside, try writing in a journal. You don’t have to do it every day if you don’t want to. Just keep a notebook that allows you to have some private space to get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper. See if it helps you let go of some of the negative thoughts.

  39. That was fabulous, Miz H. Brought tears to my eyes.

    To the reader: I would like to tell you that things change, that life will get better, that your perspective will change and your world will get bigger in ways you never dreamed. But when I was 13–and fat and miserable–people told me stuff like that and I didn’t believe them. They weren’t right there in it like I was; they couldn’t truly know what it was like.

    The reason I am still here is because I found things to life for in the midst of all the insults and neglect and hate. I wrote a lot. I read a lot. I leaned on my friends–the good ones, the ones who were outcasts too and didn’t use me to feel better about themselves. I was active in a community theatre group, where my fat mattered much less than my ability to belt out a great solo. I clung to the few positive things in my life. And you know what? Because I invested in things that really mattered, I’m now a good writer and I’m well-read and educated and talented and my personality rocks and I still have those same good friends. The skinny, perfect girls I was so jealous of at 13? They have this: they are thin. They didn’t have to cultivate skills or personalities. I know it’s virtually impossible to see what you’re going through as a blessing, but in some ways it really is.

  40. I am a for-real counselor. Since I can’t talk to 13 in a professional setting, what I’m about to say isn’t professional advice, but it’s what I tell friends/acquaintances who come to me with this kind of thing.
    13, please know that we all care about you. Please tell an adult that you trust about how you are feeling. Suicidal thoughts with a plan are very, very serious. But things can get better. Talk with that person you trust. Right now, today. It’s scary, but it will be a relief if you have been keeping it hidden. Do anything for yourself that makes you feel better, any hobbies or activities that you enjoy and that make you feel good. The advice and stories here so far are great. You can live through this too, 13. I know that it doesn’t feel like it right now, so that’s why waiting for a better future isn’t enough. You can take action today to make things better here and now. Please check in with us and let us know how you are doing, OK?

  41. A. Read these comments and know that many others have and will continue to travel this path.

    B. Talk to a school counselor. And don’t worry about changing your weight or size, focus on your feelings, your anxiety, and your lonliness. If your counselor or teacher offers to help you lose weight, kindly thank them and say what so many of us have to remind ourselves everyday, “I deserve to love myself regardless of my size or weight,” and ask them to help you do that instead of focusing on the numbers.

    C. Keep visiting Shapley Prose and other such websites.

    D. Google “Joy Nash” and make sure you watch Fat Rant 3: Staircase Wit

  42. Oh, kiddo… Please please believe that there are so many more years–better, happier, richer, more fulfilling years–ahead of you if you can just hang in there.

    When I was 13, it was the year after I: had a growth spurt and added three inches to my short body, lost about 25 pounds for no reason except that my body was changing a lot, tried out for and made the cheerleading squad, suddenly went from the ugly duckling I was at age 12 to the queen bee cute skinny popular girl. I thought I had it made in the shade. I dropped my old (dorky) friends, I hung out with the other popular girls, I had “boyfriends”, I wore bikinis at the beach. It was like my fairy godmother suddenly started paying attention to all my wishes.

    By the end of that year, I was as miserable, empty, unhappy, ill, and alone as I had *ever* been when I was the chubby kid with glasses, braces and frizzy hair. I realized that the “perfect” or “normal” way of being a teenager (popularity, boyfriends, dates to all the school dances) was mostly about using other people in order to hide your insecurities. I learned that all those nasty, gossipy, name-calling popular kids are every bit as freaked out, terrified, sad, and lonely as you are. The only difference is that you have a whole culture’s worth of prejudice and disgust added to your already-difficult adolescent burden.

    So all that is to say that, now, at age 30, I look back on my “ugly duckling” fat 12-year-old self, and also on my popular “queen bee” 13-year-old self, and I think: “My god, Kikisunshine–how shameful that you let yourself get taken in by the myth that skinny and pretty = happy. And how shameful that you treated others with the unkindness you had experienced.” But I also think to myself: “Good for you for figuring it out, and for learning from your experience, and for struggling to grow up and think critically about the miserable myths that culture is pushing at you. Good for you for trying to use your experience as a source of inspiration for the undergrad young women you teach right now. Good for you for hanging in there.”

    I promise you–promise promise promise–that the person I am at 30 is *not* who I was at 12 or 13. Start reading some good feminist books (there are lots of suggestions on this and other feminist blog sites). That was crucially important for me in becoming a sane and happy teenager. And just hang in there.

  43. Oh, and if you are reading any teen magazines or “women’s magazines” like Cosmo or Glamour or whatever, STOP. Just throw them out. They will bring you nothing but self-hatred. Read BUST instead if you still want to look at clothes and rock stars and stuff. I’ve heard Sadie is cool, too.

  44. I couldn’t agree more with all of these wonderful people are saying. You will get through 13, and you have wonderful resources to help you through this year. It is tough for everyone…you’re at the point in your life where you’re trying to figure out where you belong in the spectrum of the world, but believe me, you belong here. We all support you so much in what you are going through because each of us have been there, in our own way.
    You deserve to be happy and to have all the love in the world…even from yourself. Be good to yourself. Don’t say things to yourself that you wouldn’t say to someone else.

  45. Hello, 13 ~

    All these wonderful pepole are saying all of the things that, in the end, really matter. And I agree with them all. I’m going to say what mattered to me at thirteen, even though it’s less smart.

    1) All sorts of us fat kids who became fat teenagers and then fat adults have found romance and love.

    2) All sorts of us fat kids who became fat teenagers and then fat adults have good friends.

    3) Fat people have found careers and jobs they love.

    4) We’ve had adventures all over the world and in all sorts of ways.

    5) We’ve had partners who find us sexy, beautiful, and wonderful.

    6) We have some challenges being fat. And right now, right here, we’re coming together to talk about them and try to help each other fix them so maybe it will be easier. Like making sure we have beautiful clothing choices. Or telling each other jokes to make a lift in our days. Or taking beautiful pictures. Or writing beautiful essays.

    BUT: Even IF we weren’t all here trying to help each other, we were all still kick ass people living our lives. We hurt some times, but we hurt less than you’re hurting now.

    You have gifts too that you can share. 13 makes it hard to see them! Give yourself time. And whenever you’re having a rough time, we’re here! There’s even a great blog of another teen “Diary of a Fat Teenager”!

  46. A couple comments:

    Everyone who said that 13 is a horrible, horrible age to be are absolutely 100% correct. I hated my life when I was 13. I was miserable. I cried nearly every day when I got home from school. (And I was an average-sized kid).

    Being 13 is just horrible. I don’t know why it is that way but almost every adult I know, if you mention being 13 to them, they shudder and talk about how much they hated it. The good news is it does start to get better.

    It gets better. Hang on. It gets better because some of the people who are saying rude things now develop a sense of tact and realize, “Wow, I was really a mean little git at 13.” And the ones who don’t, you develop some of the necessary strength to say “Forget them.”

    Find someone you trust – whether it’s a parent, a school counselor, a doctor, a teacher, a religious leader, someone – and talk to them. Tell them what is bothering you. Trust me, you will feel better feeling that someone else knows. They can also get you the help you need if you are in fact clinically depressed or have some other disorder where medication or other treatment will make it better.

    (I had a friend who was depressed. When she finally got the dosage of antidepressant in the right balance, she said it was like night and day. It wasn’t that she was a DIFFERENT person, it was that she said she was the person she knew she really was, but that all the sadness and inactivity was covering up).

    Finally, and this is very important: if you are seriously thinking of hurting yourself, call a suicide hotline (or whatever they have in the UK). Don’t commit suicide. Please don’t. I have a cousin who did four years ago and all of us in the family are still asking ourselves why and are still wondering if there was something that could be done. It’s really really horrible for the people who love that person.

    And there are people who love you, even if you feel unlovable. That’s another thing you’re going to have to trust us on for now, but you’ll look back later and realize it was true.

    I hated my life in my teens. But now I am nearly 40 and I love my life. I’m very content. And that goes really counter to some of the crap that society feeds us – that the teen years are supposed to be super-fabulous-wonderful, and when you get close to 40- especially as a woman – you are supposed to feel horrible about it. But it’s a LIE. A stinking lie. People who are miserable as teenagers are often (dare I say usually?) happy as adults.

  47. In 1983, I was that girl. Maybe a bit fatter, and American. My parents had just split up, which was a good thing, but it also meant that we were dirt poor and that my mom was never home because she had to work so many hours. I had a little brother to take care of, and that kept me going. It was the low point of my life.

    I never dieted or lost weight – I’m still more or less the size I was at that age. I did better in high school than I had in middle school, both socially and academically. Each year was better than the last. I saw some pretty dramatic successes my senior year, and made it into the best university in the state. Today, I’m a professional with a master’s degree. I have friends and family all over the world, and I travel a lot. I’m married to a gorgeous, kind, brilliant, and incredibly fun man. He fell in love with me at my normal size (still fat…), so has has every guy I’ve been with. My love life really took off in my early twenties and has been great ever since, although it had been a source of incredible angst before that.

    What I’m saying is, please don’t give up! Things get better. You don’t have to become thin for things to get better – you just have to live your life. Ages 11-13 are pure torture for almost everyone. Find something to focus your energy on (music? drama? art?) and maybe see if there’s someone else you can help out (someone in your family? volunteer work?) Keep busy, and things will eventually work themselves out. Don’t be afraid to take risks – to do new things. Good luck!

  48. When I was 13, I was struck with the realization of officially being a teenager, of my developing body, and my awareness of cute boys. But it was also the time in my life when I was suddenly aware of how “fat” I was and that I was surrounded by the cruelest kids imagineable. I’m here to tell you to ignore them. People who say ugly things may not be ugly on the outside, but they are ugly on the inside. Their words are only a reflection of their own characters and have absolutely nothing to do with you.

    When I was a teen, my family would constantly say damaging and hurtful things to me about my weight, under the guise of “wanting what was best” for me. I spent a lot of time thinking I was inadequate, ugly, and unloveable. And yes, there were times when I thought I would be better off dead. Throughout most of my life, I have been “the fat one” and I used to always equate it to being “the ugly one”. But really, fat and ugly are totally different things. I look at pictures of myself during my teen years and all I can see is a beautiful girl who thought she was ugly. I only wish someone had told me I was beautiful back then. So I’m here to say it to you now: You are beautiful, you are beautiful, you are beautiful!

    I’ve been lurking around Kate’s site for a while now, but your comment brought me out of hiding because I want you to know that you are an amazing human being with unlimited potential and that you should never, ever, EVER let another person or a number on a scale tell you otherwise. I promise that if you concentrate more on what a fantastic and vibrant person you are instead of your weight, then people will be drawn to you. And those are really the only type of people you want in your life — the kind of people who don’t base your value on your weight and want to be with you because you are confident and funny and insightful and witty.

    I know it’s hard to believe any of this is true. So if you believe only one thing in all this, it should be that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Every person who has written a response to you here has at one time or another felt your pain. And we all probably know of many other people who have experienced the same things. We have all been in your shoes and we are all here to tell you to hang in there. IT WILL GET BETTER. If you feel you have no one to talk to, if you feel you are alone, if you feel unhappy about anything, we are all just a mouse-click away.

  49. Oh, and if you are reading any teen magazines or “women’s magazines” like Cosmo or Glamour or whatever, STOP. Just throw them out. They will bring you nothing but self-hatred.

    Yes. Like, a zillion times yes. Teen magazines were like the bane of my self-esteem when I was a teenager. And, even at 30 with a women’s studies degree under my belt and a pretty well-formed feminist consciousness, I still find that flipping through women’s magazines at the grocery store checkout line is a self-esteem suck.

    And, if I had a 13-year-old girl in my life who was having self-esteem problems (so, I suppose, if I had a 13-year-old girl in my life, period ;)), I’d get her a copy of Susan Vaught’s Big Fat Manifesto. The fat girl is the heroine, and she ends up happy without losing a single pound.

  50. I’m trying to think of whether it would help to show all our glam moments. Of course, no one’s life is all glam all the time, but we have so few examples of fun lookin’ fat life in media, that it can make it seem like there’s nothing to live for except being a … bit part in a protagonist’s life.

    But we’re our own protagonists, each of us, and everyone’s got something good that it might be hard to see at 13.

  51. I’ll agree with Deborah Lipp here, tell someone about how you feel. Just talking about it to your mom or a trusted teacher can be helpful.

    Starving yourself never works. It just doesn’t. It makes you feel like crap, makes you tired, and makes any problem you’ve had feel a thousand times bigger than it is. Stop that now! Seriously, eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full. Eat a variety of foods, including things you find yummy, and try to do it without punishing yourself. (This will take a while to master, most of us are still working on it.) Your body needs fuel to do all the awesome things you want to do.

    Something that will make you feel better about yourself is focusing on things that you can do, and learning to do new things. Try a sport, or dance, or theater, or music. If you’re involved in any of these at your school, you’ll find a group of people who accept you, and you’ll have more confidence to stand up to the people who don’t. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find what you’re good at right away, it takes some looking.

    There are shallow jerks at every school who delight in hurting others. These people have their own issues to work through, it really isn’t about you. Standing up to them is hard, putting up with them is harder. Some of them never grow out of this phase, but they become less relevant as time goes by. I recommend, if you can, getting Gavin de Becker’s book The Gift of Fear, which has some mechanisms and strategies to help you deal with bullies. (There are a couple used copies on Amazon UK for under £3)

    Throw away the beauty magazines, they are designed to make you feel like crap about yourself so you feel the need to buy their stuff. Advertising is part of the cultural training of women designed to keep us focused on our own “flaws” and comparing ourselves to others. Most media is nothing but an advertising delivery system, cutting out advertising’s encroachment into your life can greatly improve how you feel about yourself. (Jean Kilbourne’s “Killing Us Softly 3″ is available as a free video on Google and is very informative about advertising’s effects on body image. In fact, everyone should go watch it, she’s got a great bit about “headless” images of women in media which I think correlates quite well to the “headless” fatty phenomenon.)

    People tell you life gets better, they’re understating things. You will do things, and see things, and experience things that you can’t imagine now. You will find out things about yourself that will just stun you, you will wonder how you ever missed how awesome you really are. You will find strength that will surprise you, and courage that will downright shock you. But you can’t do any of this if you die right now.

  52. I second and third all the recommendations here–especially “it will get better” and “find/follow your passions” and “go for a walk sometimes.” All of these things are good.

    I too had a miserable teenage time–most do, even those who look like they have it all. The ones you envy–they are unhappy too, most of the time. Just seems to be what the ages of 12-15 tend to be. However, by 15, things start picking up. I was particularly happy from 18 onwards–finding out what I like, making friends, gaining confidence. So, hang in there. Pursue something you like to do.

    Oh, and READ. Yes, read. Books were my comfort. There are lots of great books out there that will take you away from your own worries for awhile and give you new perspectives too. I don’t care what fiction appeals to you, but Please, READ. (If you like Fantasy/SF: go for Harry Potter, the “So you want to be a wizard” series by Duane, Inkheart series by Funke, the Hobbit, and anything else that appeals–there is some great stuff out there right now in the bookstore or library near you).

    Oh, and what Say Reh said, find the Joy Nash video and watch the first Fat Rant–that first video was an eye opener for me. It made me cry and really helped me. Do watch it and the sequels.

  53. Dear 13,

    I must say, reading your comment is heartbreaking, because I swear I’m hearing myself talking again. I wouldn’t have believed back when I was your age that things would get any better, and sometimes just took all the adults saying that to me as them just not understanding what my weight put me through.

    I’m now 22, almost 23, and to be honest, I still struggle with some of the same feelings you do. I know it’s been said several times already, but these heartbreaking feelings get easier to handle. It gets much better. You’ll find people who don’t care about your weight, you’ll find love and an active social life, and you’ll find self-esteem.

    Please, PLEASE hang on. There are many of us who have been right where you are, and we were able to make it through those teen years. You are not alone, and you are loved. Suicide will deprive the world of all of the wonders you’ll bring to it someday.

  54. Oh, dude, yes, to throwing out the magazines.

    And, 13, something I didn’t add but meant to – right now you might be interested in that boy but, as you grow and experience life and make your own place and way in the world you might very well decide that what you want is not the typical man+woman relationship. There are so many other ways to have fulfilling connections with people. Not dating is not a failure. You might try and decide you don’t even like it! But you cannot make that choice if you don’t give yourself room and time to make it. There are 90bajillion choices in front of you – finding out what you are going to decide is half the fun.

  55. Oh sweetie. *hugs*
    Seriously, 13 sucks. Like everyone else said, high school will be way better, in my opinion because there is a lot more going on and people start taking their academics and extracurricular stuff more seriously and devote less energy to making each other miserable. Also, PE definitely is miserable for pretty much everyone. That doesn’t mean that sports or dance or yoga will suck too, because they generally actually teach and help you in those, instead of just giving you a ball and making you have at it! So if you want to do something physical, don’t be discouraged by PE.

    And that boy you like? Give him a couple of years. See if you still like him as much, and if he’s matured. I hope this isn’t out of line to say, but most boys are kind of asshats at 13 and you probably wouldn’t want to date him now anyway. But around 15 or 16, the guys I went to school with started understanding things like relationship dynamics and even body issues. (I still remember thinking that hell had frozen over when this happened.)

    I definitely agree with everyone who said to volunteer; not only is it objectively helpful, but you can also meet similarly concerned people of your age outside of school social structures, and also adults who can support you as well. I met some really cool people volunteering at the library in high school!

    You said you like the internet…have you considered starting your own blog?

  56. Young British person, you should get a blog or a livejournal or something. It’s a great way to connect with people online and you can join online support groups for whatever. You can also start a journal of your moods and you can show that to your mother or a health professional. It helps to figure out if there’s a pattern (you get upset after people tease you, or you alternate between feeling up and down) and what you can do about it. Of course, you don’t have to show it to anyone if you don’t want to.

    I know a lot of 13 year old girls. I know zero 13 year old girls who love their bodies. They are either shocked by the changes their bodies are going through, or upset that their body isn’t changing enough. You’re facing extra challenges because of fat prejudice, but you should also realize that none of your classmates feel much better about themselves either, even the thin, “beautiful” ones. Heck, all 13 year olds are beautiful, they just don’t realize it.

    What are you good at? What do you love? You should focus on developing your talents and following your interests, if you can. You’re at a great age to learn.

  57. Amen, TheRotund!

    13, when I was a teen and at the height of my self-loathing, I found myself in situations with boys that were extremely uncomfortable. I wanted so badly to have a boyfriend, but I never quite got there. But then I decided to step back a bit and take a look at the jerks I was throwing myself at. It was only after I gave myself a break and forgave my body for all of its “shortcomings” that I found a man who loved me for me and tells me so every day. I am 24 now, and though I had kissed other boys in my teen years, my first real kiss didn’t happen until I met my man in college. As cliche as it may sound, it’s true what they say: others can’t love you if you don’t love yourself first. Like TheRotund said, you are not a failure for not dating. But you will have failed if you haven’t even given yourself the opportunity to experience life.

  58. Age 13 is hell. And Phys Ed in most cases is a torture devised to humiliate and demoralize the fat and uncoordinated. (Okay, that may not actually be true, but it sure feels that way, doesn’t it?)

    But here’s the great thing about your teenage years, and high school, and gym class. This is the practice round, baby. You never have to see these people again after graduation. So this is your chance to try on a few different personalities, and develop your style. Everyone else is doing the same thing, after all.

    And your body will change. It may not be the way you expect, but it’s all going to make sense when it comes together. You’re probably going to get taller, and your shape will change. You might even really like the changes. Just try to focus on what’s good. Too many of us get hung up in our “flaws” and only realize how incredibly HOT we were in retrospect. Don’t do that. See your beauty now, so you won’t miss out on the fun of knowing you have gorgeous eyes, or awesome hair, or even the most incredibly gorgeous hands known to man. (Seriously! I wish I had noticed how pretty mine were before I scarred them with kitchen burns and gardening incidents.)

    And, like my mother always told me when something felt like the end of the world, “Honey, this, too shall pass.”

  59. 13, my dear, you have reached out to a wonderful community. I’m 25 now and I wish with all of my being that I’d had a place and its community like this….a year ago… five years ago…. as a teenager?

    Please stay here. Keep reading all of the posts and the others from the feed. So many of these brilliant, beautiful people have been able to peel away the layers of pure shit society has piled on me. It’s changed my life when I needed it most and it will for you, too. Consistently notice the happiness and success of people who have been in your shoes. See how accepting we are of each other and know there are so many more, people you know, who are totally accepting of you.

    Finally, have some understanding for the people who may give you crap. They simply are not yet strong nor informed enough to throw away the shit the world of fashion, cosmetics, etc. has been feeding them. It’s a weakness that they have that I’ve had as well but I’m overcoming it.

    You’re of the upcoming generation of people who can stop this diet-crazed madness and truly change the lives of those to come. Someday you may look at how you were feeling as a crappy but amazing blessing that you started your journey of self acceptance and acceptance of others when you did.

  60. I don’t know who said it, but the “get angry” advice is pretty damn good, even if it isn’t polite. I got mad during my teen years and, even if it wasn’t the healthiest emotion state, it was a helluva lot better than feeling sad about myself. I, too, made art out of dismembered Barbie dolls!! Hahaha!! Anyway, DEMAND ATTENTION. Don’t hide in the corner. Practice keeping your head up, literally. Dress boldly and act in a way that says, “Hey you asshats, I’m fat and I’m friggin’ awesome and you suck!!” I got in a lot of fights with guys and people stopped messing with me in highschool. Obviously, as an adult, I’m not supposed to encourage violence, but I can’t help but feel proud of myself for kicking some ass back in the day. Just try not to get expelled!!

  61. When I was 13, I was fat. I had a best friend who let me know every second how she was skinny and I wasn’t. I watched her (and the other girls my age) get their first boyfriends and blossom into teenager-hood the way it does on TV and in movies. And there I sat all chubby and single and not being kissed hating them, hating my body, hating myself and hating life.

    Shortly thereafter, I went to high school, which is usually the epitome of taunting and horror but for me was a relief. Maybe it’s because my school was pretty big (I graduated with about 330 people), but I pretty quickly and easily found a group of friends and wasn’t really made fun of anymore (save by a few idiots, but you can only expect so much from teenage boys). It also helped that the aforementioned “best friend” went to private school and I was slumming it in public.

    Save for the fact that I’m not British (and had to Google the conversion of stone to pounds then do math, lol) you could be me. I know everyone here has said “it gets better” and you’re probably sick of hearing that, but it’s true. But when I was your age and someone said that, I shrugged it off because it didn’t help NOW. So I understand.

    My advice would be to find a niche. For me it was band. The bulk of my friends in high school (and college) were met through band, or through other people I had met in band. What do you like? Art? Music? You said you like computers, is there some kind of community or school club that has to do with them that you could join? You could look on meetup.com for something in your area (though I’d recommend having your parents or a friend go with you to anything at least the first time for safety reasons, especially since you’re so young). I know there’s a “Fat Teens” section, I just don’t know what they have in the UK. It’s been my experience that the people who are passionately interested in something are less judgmental about appearance, especially toward someone who shares that interest.

    What about getting a part-time job? I don’t know about the laws regarding age in the UK, but if you’re old enough it might be a fun way to meet people, also it might take your mind off things. Plus you’ll make some money doing it, which you could then spend on something to make you feel fabulous, like a manicure or some cute new clothes.

    I’m not going to b.s. you and say all your problems and bad feelings will disappear with age. I’m 24 and still occasionally struggle with similar feelings. But with time I have learned which thoughts are especially ridiculous and now can force them out of my head.

    If you want a friend at school, maybe it doesn’t have to be another fat kid. There’s probably someone else who is unpopular and gets made fun of, even if it’s for a different reason. Nerd? Pizza face? Headgear? Are there three kids who sit at the end of the lunch table and play with their Magic cards every day? Other kids who feel outcast will understand how you feel, even if they don’t specifically relate to being fat.

    *hug* And as far as boys go, they’re not everything. I know it would be fun if the cute boy who looks just like whatever teen idol is in right now asked you out, but truth is, he’s probably an idiot. It may not happen right now but somewhere down the road there will be a guy who likes you because of you, regardless of what your body looks like.

    If you can’t talk to your parents, maybe find a school counselor? They have heard every teenage problem that exists a million times and will know how to help you through it. Please do this, especially if you think you’d try to hurt yourself. Also, if you really want to lose weight, please be smart about it. Don’t starve yourself, eat a healthy and balanced diet (you can look online for recommendations and portions if you need help) and do something physical. Make sure it’s something that’s fun or you won’t stick with it. If nothing else, lock the door to your room, crank your favorite music and dance (no one’s looking – you can be as foolish as you want!). And remember that you’re probably still getting taller and developing, so your 175 pounds (that’s what the online converter told me it was!) will look completely different before long.

    Good luck!

  62. If you can’t talk to your parents, maybe find a school counselor?

    Just a warning — at least in the States, if a school counselor thinks you’ll try to hurt yourself, they’re obligated to tell your parents.

  63. Oh, 13, now unspeakably awful-both the age, and what you’re going through, 13.

    I actually wasn’t fat as a teenager-because I had a full-blown, undiagnosed-until-my-mid-twenties eating disorder. I was skinny, but it didn’t make me ‘popular’, at least in the cheerleader sense. I was borderline underweight, and thought that if I could just get down under 110, everything would be perfect. I know, now, that it wouldn’t have made any difference.

    As for the suicidal feelings, like everyone else said, you need to talk to a trustworthy person about that. And think about the things you haven’t done yet-I’m sure there must be things you want to do before you die. Have you been to New York CIty? Have you been to Belgium? If you can’t think too far into the future, then think shorter-term: you have to make it at least through high school before you kill yourself. And then there’s university. You get out into the world, and you discover people who are like you: right now you’re stuck with your schoolmates, and what do you have in common, besides geography? In the meantime, what do you like to do? Is there anyway to meet other people who like the same thigns?

    Whatever you do, don’t get into drugs and drinking to cope: they only make it worse. And stay away from boys who want to sleep with you, but don’t want anyone to know.

    It will not always be this bad.

  64. I don’t have much to add to what’s already been said, except one more voice of support and “I’ve been there.”

    The only point I want to reiterate/highlight is that those of us saying, “It will get better” do know that before it gets better, it FUCKING SUCKS. A lot of people told me “It will get better!” when I was your age, but that meant squat to me, because no one could tell me when that would happen, and in the meantime, it was like they were asking me to just suck it up and eat shit with a smile until I got old enough that my daily existence magically ceased to be hell. It felt terribly dismissive and not helpful at all.

    But 20 years on, I now understand that everyone says that because A) it’s true, and B) it gets so much better that as you get older, you can’t even fully recall how much 13 sucked. You know, as an intellectual concept, that you were miserable then, but you don’t feel the acute pain of it anymore. It really does go away. Also, as you get older, a couple of years — i.e., the period of Ultimate Suckitude — seems like a short time, but when that’s a decent percentage of your short life, and every day is painful, a couple of years is not a short time.

    So. “It will get better” is a very, very good reason not to commit suicide, which is the most important thing here. But in the meantime, you have to live through the shit. And it’s… shitty. So just know that it’s okay to be angry, it’s okay to cry and yell, it’s okay to do whatever it takes to get through it. You don’t have to be happy just because you know that within a few years, things will probably get a whole lot better. You’ve still got to live through those years. And you are under no obligation to put on a cheery face and act like it’s all okay now just because adults keep telling you your life will eventually stop sucking.

    In light of that, I highly recommend angry music, escapism as necessary — books, movies, games, fantasizing about how awesome you’re going to be in 10 years — and trying to find at least one friend who’s just as pissed off about having to be 13 as you are. (I promise, there is almost certainly someone at your school who’s in the same boat. Making a connection can be scary, but let me just tell you that one of the best friends I made in 9th grade is still a good friend, and it all started because I thought she might be a kindred spirit and just up and asked her to hang out with me one day. She was happy to say yes, just as I was happy to say yes to other friends who screwed up the nerve to approach me. There are no guarantees, but trust me on this one — EVERYONE is scared shitless of rejection, and even if you feel like you’re totally unintimidating and no one would ever be nervous about talking to a big loser like you*, there are probably people who would love to be your friend but are afraid you’d reject them.)

    *You are not, of course, a big loser or anything of the sort — but that’s definitely how I felt at 13.

  65. Oh, and the best way to deal with insults is to just treat the people who hurl them with faint disdain. I mean, ‘fatty’? How utterly unoriginal! Ask the insulters if they can’t think up something more creative. React with upset, and they’ll keep doing it. Respond rationally, and look at them like they are particularly foolish children, and they tend to back off. Easier said than done, but give it a try.

  66. Oh, sweetie. I hated being 13. It was the single worst year of my life, bar none.

    One of the things I regret the most is the fact that I gave up exercise completely because 1) I sucked at team sports and was too humiliated to play even for fun 2) I wasn’t skinny and thought there was no point to exercise if it didn’t make you thin. It got to the point where I didn’t even want to go on a walk with my family (even though they were supportive, non-judgmental, and never mentioned my weight) because I was so embarassed about being the slowest. I can’t encourage you enough to find some kind of physical activity that is NO PRESSURE, NON-COMPETETIVE, and ENJOYABLE. (If you trust any of those PE teachers of yours, they might have some suggestions for you. Tell them that you want something low-pressure and doable, and that you just want to be a bit more active. If they keep talking weight or make you feel worse, find someone else to talk to.)

    Everyone is exactly right: talk to someone, throw out the magazines, find things you love to do. Your body is not the sole facet of who you are, and it is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. You are going to get through this.

  67. There are currently 65 comment. Look at how many of them start “you are me at 13.” Your experience, as painful as it is, has been shared by millions of 13-year-olds throughout history. My mother used to have a friend who said that 13 is not an age, it’s a disease. Fortunately it has a ridiculously high survival rate.

    I would like to reiterate, because I don’t think it can be said enough, suicidal thoughts are not just normal “feeling blue.” I was in my 30s before the clinical depression that I had suffered from my earliest memories was diagnosed. I can’t tell you how liberating it was to find that there was a physiological reason for my hopelessness. It was such a shock that it wasn’t just a moral failing. It took several years to find an antidepressant that works well for me, but I finally did, and whereas I’m not Little Mary Sunshine, I’m capable of getting out of bed in the morning and facing the day without longing to just go to sleep and never wake up.

    You have a safe place here, full of people who have been where you are and who care about you. You are NOT alone.

    Please let us know how you’re doing.

  68. Oh dear, ksfeminist I’m sorry but I had to laugh at your advice. Right now in the UK it is grey. Yesterday it rained non-stop all day in nearly every bit of the country. Sitting in the sunshine would be *fabulous* but we’ll be lucky to find much sun! Hey, at least it’s still pretty warm though.

    13: I hope all these people saying all these things has helped. I was pretty much the heaviest girl in my class at school, though looking back now I was a lot thinner than I thought I was at the time. I gained some weight since then, lost it, and gained it all back and more so. But now I’m a size 22-24 and you know it’s not the end of the world. I have a wonderful partner who actually fancies me even though he didn’t meet me when I was thin, I have lovely friends, and a great family and even though my baby sister is still the skinny one of the family I don’t hate her for it, and I wouldn’t swap her life for mine.

    Hang on in there.

  69. All I have to say is this – there are people who love you so much, and they would be so sad if they lost you. And there are people you’ve never even met yet – you’re going to meet them as you grow up, and they’re also going to love you so much.

    You deserve the chance to feel all this love.

    It’s just too sad that you feel alone. You deserve to feel loved *right now.*

    The commenters here are right – choose someone to talk to. And if that person doesn’t listen or understand, choose another person. Find someone who you can keep talking to about your feelings.

    Maybe it sounds strange to get this advice from us! Maybe you’re saying, “but I already did reach out! I reached out to you!”

    And it’s true, you did! You expressed yourself bravely and honestly! It says a lot about you, about how good and brave your instincts are – that you would reach out like this. I hope these comments will give you some comfort and courage.

    Because yeah – it’s a rare and beautiful thing to be able to express yourself with courage and honesty. You’re going to get a lot of love for that, and you deserve to be here to feel it.

  70. its like im on my own and there no-one to help or support me it really does depress me

    When you’re depressed, it is SO hard to reach out to people, and if you don’t have supportive family or friends from before the depression, if you’re not reaching out there most likely isn’t anyone reaching for you, y’know? But then, you did work up the nerve and the energy to reach out here, which to me says you are way stronger than you think you are.

    And I know you are wise, to reach out for help here, in a safe place. I know very little about you, but already I know that you have what it takes to be a true friend and a success at life – strength, and wisdom. :)

    A lot of people are telling you that things will change, that being thirteen is horrible but it gets better, and I think that is true. In school, we have so little control over our lives that weight control becomes HUGELY important, because it’s something people think they have control over – so they think someone who is thin is hugely powerful and important, y’know?

    But that’s a little like admiring someone for their skill at rolling a pair of dice – it’s a crapshoot, more luck than skill. In school you’re in an artificial environment where skill doesn’t matter, unless you’re someone who cares about grades (and in the U.S., at least, most really don’t, so long as they’re passing).

    When people say “It’ll get better,” part of what a lot of us are talking about is that you’re in an artificial environment. A very pervasive environment, one you’ve been stuck in long enough you may find it hard to imagine what it’s like not to have to deal with it, but still, an artificial one.

    Hang in there, and once you get out of school you’ll have more freedom to find people who share your interests and, unless you go into fashion or the like, people who are much less hung up on appearances and more interested in your other abilities and your personality and your ability to love. Right now, half the people who are eyeing the opposite sex are thinking more about “how much would that person improve my status” rather than “is this a good person who will enhance my life,” y’know?

    People grow up, and when they do, appearance isn’t nearly as important. And, as I said, you do have what it takes – strength and wisdom are important qualities for friends and lovers, and people of sense figure that out after a bit.

    Remember that people tend to overvalue what they’re good at. Most smart people think the “best” people are the intelligent; most jocks think the “best” people are good at sports, etc. As people get older they get stronger and more wise, so those skills you already have will be more valued.

    But also, if you have or find something you are good at or really enjoy, you’ll be better able to find people who know how to appreciate you. Plus, right now your mother is all flush with her success at losing the weight – it’s possible that as time goes on she’ll get more reasonable about things and be a better resource for you.

    Please believe that if you can just hang on, things will get better, because the odds are enormously in favor of just that.

  71. I surely hope that if its been in the mod queue for weeks that someone has been in touch with this child to let her know her plea did not fall on deaf ears.

    And kiddo, if you’re reading, keep reading. I’m practically old enough to be your granny, but I still struggle with feelings like you have. Reading the fatosphere blogs has changed my life for the better, immesurably for the better, saved my life in some ways, and had I found them at the tender age you now find yourself, who knows how many years I would not have wasted in dieting, self hatred, and despair. Keep reading. This lifeboat’s big enough for all of us.

  72. Everyone has said everything I’d say. But I want to chime in with more of the same and one other thing I recently learned.

    I was the same at 13, I hated myself, everyone at school etc. My older sister called me and my friends the “tons of fun” because we were all fat. And ya know what, even though she was thin and beautiful in her teen years, the ugliness of her personality has come out in her adult years and she’s not so thin anymore, plus she’s miserable.

    I agree that you should find people to talk to, whether it is your Mom or a school counselor or even just find friends at school to talk to who relate. My closest friends now at the age of 37, are the same people I related to and hung out with at 13-17.

    And the thing I learned recently is, don’t put all your self worth in one person. It’s too big of a job for that person to handle, and some people will let you down. Then you’ll be right back where you started. You need to find a way to love yourself as you are. What do you like most about yourself? There has to be something. Is it your hair? Your smile? For me, it has always been my sense of humor. And all my friends have commented on my legs since…I can remember. I never believed them that I had nice legs until recently. And one other thing that I’ve hated forever that I’ve recently decided to love are my enormous breasts. Skinny women the world over are PAYING DOCTORS to get breasts like these. Yes, I was MORTIFIED to find out what size bra I should have been wearing, but then I realized, strippers PAY for this size… I have it naturally and I don’t look freakish with them, they look good on me!
    I’m sure you can find ONE thing you like about yourself. Start there, and you’ll find, however slowly (yeah for me it took me 24 years) that you like a lot of things about yourself.

  73. Oh God, 13. I remember 13… as much as I’ve tried to block the memories. 13 was right before things started getting better, thank god – if 14 and 15 had been as bad as 12 and 13 I’d have sunk into clinical depression, I’m sure. Things didn’t start getting actually good until 16, and then 18… 18 rocked my world. Well, college did, really. Mostly just getting the hell out of my tiny inbred gossipy anti-intellectual hateful little town. So, yes, I echo what everyone else has said: Honey, this is probably as bad as it will ever be. You have nowhere to go but up from here, trust me. Hang in there just a little longer.

    If you love the computer, find a community online that you enjoy. This one, or one about books, music, gardening, tuba-playing — whatever floats your boat. Make online friends (just use caution in revealing identifying details, full name, address, that sort of thing, because there are crazies out there). Online friends can be soooo much better than ‘real-life’ ones at this stage. For starters it’s a lot easier to meet people a little older than you – most of my internet friends when I was 13 were 16, and what a difference 3 years makes! And you’ll have something in common, guaranteed, that you can talk about if you’ve met them through an interest community. (This next bit isn’t very fat-positive, but sometimes we need the baby steps: You don’t have to tell them how much you weigh. You can let them picture you as skinny, if you are uncomfortable talking about looks. Then when you are more comfortable you can “come out” to your friends, which is very freeing, trust me.)

    Get away from your school. I’m not suggesting you try to transfer – no notion how that would work across the pond anyway – but go and do some weekend, summer, or after-school activity that is not school-based, and at which you are not likely to meet any of your classmates. I think you will be surprised how easily you make friends with people who have never seen you before. The thing about schools is, it’s so hard to shake the reputation you get stuck with, because so much of the school social structure is based on this totem pole of status — and if you move up, someone else has to move down, so everyone ‘above’ you is dedicated to making sure you stay down. But you can get off the pole entirely! Go somewhere else, and you will not be “the class fatty”, you will just be YOU. And people will like YOU.

    Look for a mentor. An adult you like and trust is a huge help when you’re 13 and your peers all suck. “Mentor” is one of those words that turns 13-year-olds to eye-rolling, so lemme ‘splain: You’re looking for an adult that makes you feel comfortable and that you can talk to — not about deep life stuff but about silly stuff like your adventure catching the bus last weekend or the cool new song you heard on the radio. You’re looking for an adult that can tell you cool stuff — maybe they have awesome stories about the time they were training about Europe with just a knapsack, maybe they know all sorts of random funny football trivia going back to the dawn of the sport, maybe they just know the lyrics to every Beatles song ever written. Whatever. Just so long as you can listen to them talk about something interesting. In short — you’re looking for someone who’d be your best friend if you were about 20-40 years older.

    And tell someone you’ve been thinking about suicide. If you can’t say it out loud, write it down and hand it to them – you can even leave the room before they read it. Just make sure someone who cares about you knows, so that they can help you get the help you need to feel better.

  74. I surely hope that if its been in the mod queue for weeks that someone has been in touch with this child to let her know her plea did not fall on deaf ears.

    buttercup, many or maybe most people (including this girl) don’t use working email addresses when they make blog comments.

  75. Amen to throwing out the teen magazines! But make sure that you replace them with something that makes you feel good, and beautiful and capable. Punk Planet and Bust are the magazines I am thinking of, but there are others out there (in case you are not interested in punk rock or feminism). But awesome magazine, ‘zines, blogs, etc are proof that there are really cool people in the world even if all of the people around you are shitty, and all of those people who are writing, playing music, hanging out and being awesome witty were once sitting in a place very similar to yours, thinking thoughts very similar to yours.

    After you have found someone who you feel comfortable talking to and being real with, my best advice is “Fake it.” Fake being confident, and fearless, and not caring what other people think, and eventually you will find that you really do care less. This is what I did, religiously, and sometime in high school I realized that I was not faking anymore; I really was confident and witty and good and interesting people were drawn to me because of it.

    Finally, if randomly, go to the largest high school that you can. There are two reasons for this, 1) in a huge school there are more likely to be people like you, who are interested in the things that you are interested in.
    2) if you have been in school with the same students for your entire educational career it sets up a false intimacy. In the real world we are surrounded by a lot of people who don’t know us very well, and that (usually) makes people act better or ignore each other, both of which are preferable to teasing and bullying.

  76. 13 is sucktacular. UGH! And I was a chubby kid too. My whole life. So I remember how that feels to cry yourself to sleep, to just want to fit in with your friends, to feel like no boy would ever be interested in you because of your weight. I learned to be funny to fit in and got really good grades. But I always just wanted to wear the Esprit outfit like all my thin friends.

    It’d be really great if she could get some counseling because it sounds like there are a lot of emotional issues she needs support with. Totally understandable. I have been there as a kid and an adult. Counseling helped me learn to love myself.

  77. When starting to write this response, I thought of myself when I was 13, to try to figure out what I could have said to myself that would have made me *believe* that things were going to get better. And the answer was: nothing.

    Because at 13, my life had been as gawdawful as you described forever. Because at 13, those 13 years I’d lived WAS my forever. I simply didn’t have the perspective that more years bring, because I hadn’t lived those years yet.

    So I’m asking you to take this on faith: that life is not always going to be like this. I can’t promise it’s going to be all roses and puppies and sunshine, but I can promise this: it’s going to be different. If your life is anything like mine was, you’re living in a very small world, with very similar people, with walls keeping you hemmed in, and that’s what it’s always been like forever.

    Except those walls you see? They’re made of paper. And when you break through them, there are going to be possibilities beyond that you have never even dreamed of. I don’t know what all your possibilities will be made of, but mine were filled with people with completely different mindsets than my own, that exploded and expanded my world view. Professional possibilities that I didn’t even know were jobs. Areas of the country that I’d always been told were for “other people”. And best of all, the knowledge that my fault was not that I dreamed, but that I did not dream big enough. I’m still learning to dream bigger.

    But that’s for later. The challenge you have is getting through the unbearable weight of pain right now. So I’ll repeat what others have said: do something nice for yourself. If you’re like I was, you’ll be thinking “but I don’t DESERVE something nice because I’m too fat for that.”

    In a word: bullshit. Yes you do. You deserve good things and you deserve to feel good. Feeling good is not reserved for pretty people.

    In a way, I envy you. You have the internet. I always wonder what my life would have been like had I had it when I was younger – it didn’t exist then. I had my books and my records (yes, it was pre-CD days, too). You have people to reach out to beyond those paper walls who can show you glimpses of what’s out there.

    And remember: every day you get through, every day you survive, every day you go on is one day closer you are to the wonderful possibilities coming. If I could tell my 13 year old self one thing, it would be Thank You. Thank you for keeping on keeping on. Thank you for waiting and thank you for holding things together so we could know all this joy and possibility.

  78. 13, girl, I have faith that you’re going to make it through this. The fact that you’re reaching out for help–especially here, to this community of intelligent and compassionate people who have been there–tells its own story. It says that you know you deserve better and you’re trying to find it. It says that you’re strong and brave and doing your best to take care of yourself, and that’s what you’re going to need in the next few years.

    As some others have said, I recommend getting angry. In fact, I can’t recommend it highly enough. I, too, listened to a lot of loud music–I discovered the Pixies at your age, and it was a revelation–and mutilated my old Barbie dolls. (Then I impaled their heads on my pencils, and wrote with them in class, which might have been why no one much wanted to sit next to me.) The more you realize that you’re getting fucked over by a superficial world, just for being young and fat and female, the less you’ll blame yourself for being those things–and the more you’ll be able to focus on all the other things you are.

    I was miserable at your age, too. I spent a lot of time crying in my room with the music turned up. The only thing that really helps is the passage of time, but finding ways to distract yourself certainly helps it pass faster.

    Pursue whatever interests you, whether it’s sports, music, books, art… I got really into reading Greek and Roman mythology, myself. Escapism at its finest, with monsters and heroes and seriously twisted love stories. A friend of mine was a master thrift shopper at 13, and put together the coolest funky outfits. Whatever. If all you really wanna do is wander the Internet, do it with all your might!

    And like someone else said, consider starting a blog. Then come back here and post a link, because I know we’d all love to follow what you do from here on out.

  79. I’ll reiterate the advice to find something you love to do where people will accept you for your other qualities – that might be a hobby or something like singing or band, or maybe it’s just finding a sub-culture of friends. Finding the punk/alternative scene in my city when I was 13 or 14 was a complete lifesaver for me. When the school day ended, I’d hop on a bus and leave the prom queens and football heroes of my suburban school and head downtown to hang out in a group of people where the ones who looked the weirdest got the most respect. Everyone was accepted regardless of their size or colour because none of us fit in with the regular kids.

    And while I’ll definitely agree with the advice to ditch the fashion magazines, I would suggest that you develop an interest in creating your own style. It can be harder when you’re a teenager because most plus size fashions are geared towards older women, but think of someone like Beth Ditto who is super-stylish, and talented and gorgeous… that she’s fat is not even important. If you’re having fun with your outfits and are wearing clothes that make you look great, you’ll feel more confident, and those people who give you a hard time will begin to think of you as more confident, and will in turn, cut out the teasing and harassing.

    Honestly, the fall I can back to school in my punk gear for the first time, was when I noticed a positive change in the way the other kids treated me. That’s not to say that you should go be punk, but find something that you love to do, or a style that looks great on you, and direct your interest to that instead of worrying about fitting in.

    And yes, it does get better. Those popular kids from when I was 13 now all have crappy office jobs and when I run into them on Facebook they all seem miserable. Despite being fat, I’ve gotten to do really fun things with my life – I ran a record label, produced rock concerts, trained as a chef and am now a food writer – where no one cares that I’m fat, because it’s my job to eat all day!

    I know it seems like 13 is horrible – and it is – but please hang on and take care of yourself, and treat yourself well. I have a personal life philosophy of “that which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”. 13 didn’t break me, don’t let it break you. Just let it be one of life’s lessons on the road to the fantastic future you deserve.

  80. @coyote- Ouch. You were pretty harsh on a lot of people (thin, popular, pretty…bookkeepers?).

  81. Dear darling letter writer,

    Even though 79 other people have already answered you, reading your letter and the other responses broke my heart and I want to say this to you:

    I am 23 y/o now and have just entered treatment for an eating disorder. Like you, at 13 I was depressed, suicidal, alone, and fat. Instead of having the courage you have and finding some kind of outlet, even one online, I chose to use eating disorder behaviors. I spent the next 10 years with at most a month of recovery before I’d slip back in. Starving myself did not help. It did not make me feel better. It did not make me look better. It made me feel more alone and it left me numb. Anytime I stopped the behaviors, I would gain even more weight back. It’s so incredibly harmful to your body.

    I hear you sweetheart. I understand the pain you’re feeling. I undersand the desperation. I understand the desire to starve yourself in order to be thinner. And I understand what it’s like to be alone in the world at such a young age when your parents should be taking care of you.

    Though I did some fabulous things the past ten years and I wouldn’t trade that path, I also missed out on so much because I chose to hate my body. I chose to punish my body. I chose to control it because I could. I stopped feeling. I stopped believing. And now, 10 years later, I am finally getting help and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. If I had never started those behaviors, I would be doing things much more fun with my twentysomething year old friends.

    You seem very brave letter writer and I hope so much that you can grab hold of that courage again and find an adult to talk to. I also couldn’t talk to my parents, but there are other adults out there who care about you and who can help get your mom involved and getting you help you need.

    We wish you the best. Keep coming here.
    Love,
    M.Marie

  82. Being 13 sucks. I wasn’t even the fattest girl in my class and yet I was still called fat. Why? Who knows. 13 year olds are mean. But it does get better. First off, your body starts changing, and those curves move around a bit. I’m not going to say you’ll suddenly be super tall and super thin, but your body shape will change.

    My biggest advice is to just learn to love yourself. Tell your mom that she’s not helping you. Eat healthy and exercise, but not because it will help you lose weight. Do it because it will make you feel better about yourself. It will make you healthier. And sure, you might lose some weight and tone up, but that’s not everything.

    This might not work for you, but have you ever thought of taking up running? I know that sounds stupid. But hear me out. I know a lot of girls and women who are fat runners. They started out barely able to walk a few blocks without being out of breath to running races, anything from 5Ks to full marathons! Why do I suggest this? Because it will show you what your body can do. These women are still fat. They’ve toned up a lot, and they’ve lost some weight, and they’re stronger and healthier, but they are still fat, and that’s ok. Yes, it’s not easy, and yes you’ll want to give up, but if every time you go out for a workout, you walk one more block than the day before, then you’ve improved.

    For me, a lot of learning to love my body was all about learning to love what my body could do. At 12, I joined the school track team, ran one block, thought I was going to die, and quit, because I was too fat to run. At 25, I ran my first 5K, a race that ended right next to that block I couldn’t run years earlier. I wasn’t fast. But I finished. I could do it. And I take a lot of pride knowing that my body can do that.

    13 sucks. We’ve been there. And of course, knowing that doesn’t help at all. But take it on faith – it gets better.

  83. Listen to these people. They’re smart, and they care about you, and they know what’s up. Get help if you need it; it really sounds like you are just so alone, and alone sucks. Talk to someone offline (parent, teacher, friend, someone); join in the community here; hell, you can email me — I’m pocketfulofsky at gmail dot com. And keep in mind that this will pass. It’ll take a while — a couple of years, maybe — but it’ll pass, and it’ll be easier to deal with before it passes if you have someone(s) you can talk to. Or, hell, just someone(s) you can shoot the shit with, you know?

    Being a young teenager is just awkward, fat or not. Eventually, though, it stops being awkward — you grow taller, your body settles into the shape it’s going to be, you get more comfortable with your new self, and you get the hell out of junior high and high school. You don’t need to be thinner to be happier, and you don’t need to be thinner to be beautiful (I mean, anybody who writes of her caring for other people even when they’re mean to her, anyone with the poise and concern at 13 to keep her troubles out of everyone else’s sight, is someone who is outright beautiful — although very much someone who can benefit from caring about herself as much as she cares about others). You just need to be not so lonely, not stuck in being 13… and those things will happen.

    In sum, I think you are pretty damn awesome, and I really, really would love to hear from you in five years, you know? Give things a chance to get better. And the email offer totally stands.

  84. Oh sweetie, I am just hugging and loving on you right now. I’m turning 23 in a month, so I’m ten years removed from where you are; the memories are still fairly fresh.
    When I was 13, I reached 200 lbs, was being bullied relentlessly at school and my parents got divorced. I was extremely depressed and suicidal. My teen years in general were hell.
    But you know what? I’m 22 years old, and I’m still here. I’m still here, living and breathing. I’m still fat, but I’m okay with that now. If I committed suicide when I was 13, I would missed out on going to college and grad school, I would’ve missed out on some of the best years of my life. I don’t want you to miss the amazing things ahead of you.
    Find your passion (or passions) and run with them, hold on to them as tightly as you can. I was heavily involved with my church back then, as well as music, reading, and writing. I studied hard and got good grades, so that I could guarentee that I would get into a good college and away from all the negative things.
    I want you to stay. We (we as in all of us who have commented on this) want you to stay. Stay in this community, and stay on this earth. Don’t give up your future.

  85. Everyone above has given such great advice about finding things you enjoy doing, so I’m not going to elaborate on that, but I do want to touch on what Kate said about how it’s ok to be angry and recognize that it really does suck. I think that’s fantastic advice.

    When I was 13 I pretty much wanted to sucker-punch everyone who told me it would get better. As it turned out, they were all right, but when I was 13 I couldn’t see it. At 13, the advice I heard, I mean REALLY heard, was this: the more shit you go through now, the stronger you will be later. Sometimes when everything sucks and life isn’t worth living and it feels like the outside world is hurling at you like rocks, the only thing you can do is hunker down and grit your teeth and just get through it.

    Personally, I got through a lot of stuff by endlessly imagining that I would SHOW THEM ALL. That I would grow up and be famous and have a better house, better family, more friends than any of THEM. In a way, that blind rage saved me from commiting suicide, because I felt like suicide would be letting them win, and I was NOT going down without a fight.

    So if you can get mad, do it. If you can find an activity you love, do it. If you can make a friend, even just one more, do it. Do whatever you have to do to just get through it, and remember that you WILL. I promise that you will get through it. And when you do, you’ll be SO much stronger than you ever imagined you could be. There’s even an old saying about that: “The hottest fires forge the strongest steel.”

    So just hang in there, hunker down and grit your teeth. You really can get through this. You are already stronger than you know.

  86. buttercup, many or maybe most people (including this girl) don’t use working email addresses when they make blog comments.

    Fillyjonk, that sucks. I sure hope she’s reading today.

  87. Wow, once again, so many great responses.

    First of all, I want to commend you for reaching out to us. It’s a great first step, and these are the smartest people, pretty much, on the webz, far as I’m concerned.

    Now, the suicide thing. Oh boy, have I been there. You need to tell someone. Are you not telling your parents out of embarrassment, or because you fear they will become violent or abusive with you? If it’s the first thing, swallow the lump in your throat and TELL THEM. Caring parents want to know these things. Contract with them that you will not harm yourself. That was critical for me. (I didn’t feel I could tell my parents I was feeling suicidal either, but eventually they found out what was going on, and it wasn’t pretty. Telling them would have been much better than acting it out.) If you can’t bring themselves to tell them exactly how you feel just yet, at least tell them you’d like to see a counselor, and tell them that when you’re ready you will explain to them more about how you are feeling, but that it’s really really important that you do.

    If you really do fear that your parents will become violent or abusive if they find out, then a suicide hotline (or the UK equivalent) would be the way to go. They can let you know about confidential resources for counseling. But the important thing is that you make a contract with somebody — and preferably several somebodies — that you will not harm yourself. Write a letter to your cat stating that, if that’s what it comes down to. Seriously. Or hey, contract with us. We count, and we want to see you live!

    OK, peer abuse. Everyone says, “Being 13 sucks,” and they’re right, but here’s the principle reason why it sucks: Nothing is what it appears to be. Just because somebody says, “I hate you,” it doesn’t mean they actually hate you, or even that they especially dislike you. If they met up with you one on one, without any of the social pressures, they might, in fact, like you just fine. What it means is that there’s an unwritten social contract that, for whatever reason — and the reason can be totally random and made up — that you’re the thing to pick on at the moment, and if they don’t live up to their end of the “say-you-hate-so-and-so” bargain, they are next. They will not tell you this. If you accuse them of it or even ask, they will lie lie lie. But it’s true. They will fess up by the time of your high school reunion (do they have those in the UK?), if not sooner.

    Likewise, that boy might really like you, if it was just you and just him, somewhere alone on a desert island. But you’re not on a desert island, and boys that age are merciless to each other about whether a girl is enough of a trophy or not. (And if she is, they will find reasons to be merciless to each other about her anyway. Trust me on that one.)

    Also, the “popular” kids who pick on you also pick on each other, just as bad if not worse. They just do it where nobody can see them. There is no “magic look” or “magic weight” you can attain that will prevent peer abuse of some kind. The ones who do avoid it do so out of sheer dumb luck and nothing more. If kids don’t have something tangible to taunt someone else about, they will make something up. Man, did I wish I knew this stuff when I was 13.

  88. Okay, I just have to say that hating thin people, or popular people, or pretty people, or girlie people, or basically any “type” of people in general is something I find to be counterproductive. I feel like maybe there’s a tinge of thin-pretty-popular-bashing going on here, and I think that does a disservice to the many wonderful thin-pretty-popular-etc. people, who I have unerringly found to be not as single-dimensional as they are in my head. ‘Cause, you know, they’re people, too, and all.

    On the other hand, Linz, this:

    mutilated my old Barbie dolls. (Then I impaled their heads on my pencils, and wrote with them in class, which might have been why no one much wanted to sit next to me.)

    …almost made me piss myself laughing.

  89. When I was 13, I was neglected and emotionally abused at home. I was bullied every moment that I was at school: whispers, notes, things shouted at me, things thrown at me, called names, and harassed with questions designed to make me cry. At one point there was actually a game to see who could make me cry first every day.

    I didn’t exercise because I lived in a small town and leaving my house meant the same kind of harrassment I got at school because there was nowhere I could go without running into a classmate. I didn’t eat anything except a small dinner because my stomach was in knots all the time. I felt sick all the time. The evening was the only time of day my stomach would unknot just enough for me to be able to hold down food.

    I hated my body for being fat. I feared people for being cruel. I wanted to die because I didn’t know how to live like that. I couldn’t kill myself because I was afraid that I’d have to suffer for eternity for it and if I was alive, at least there was a chance that things would change.

    I survived because I had a radio and my parents had a huge collection of books. I listened to music, sang along when I knew the words, danced with the beat, read books, and wrote stories of my own. My bedroom was my safe place.

    Is there any advice that could have made it better? I don’t know. I got all the advice the world has to offer thrown at me. I followed most of it and none of it changed anything.

    What I do know is that I survived. I clung to my life because it was mine. I knew that I wouldn’t always be in school and I wouldn’t always be in my parents’ house and my life would be mine someday. So, I waited. I am the master of waiting. I find something I love and I hold on to it.

    Find something you love and pour your heart into it. You have a tool I didn’t have, a computer. When you figure out what you love, research ways that you can use it to build a future for yourself. If you love writing, start exploring what kinds of jobs writers do: journalism, writing for TV, writing screenplays, books, freelance, steady positions writing filler for small publications….etc. If you love music, start exploring what kinds of jobs musicians have: stage performance, backup musician, music teacher, music director for a church or school, etc.

    Find out what skills you need for those jobs and start practicing. There’s a lot you can do in high school. I’m the kind of stubborn that joined choir, wrote for my high school newspaper, took drama and speech, and did my best in every class because I knew that school was the best opportunity I had to try everything. I did more of the same when I went to University.

    I wasn’t good at much of what I tried, but I learned about my strengths and weaknesses by trying new things. I was proud of myself for not being afraid of a world that seemed dead set on breaking me.

    I still struggle with some basic social skills because I was bullied so badly that I never got to practice them until adulthood, but I’m not embarrassed about it because I am who I am. My strengths far outshine my shortcomings.

    It sounds so easy in a few short paragraphs, but I mimed my way through choir because I was too scared to sing. When we did actual voice tests, I was terrified that everybody would know I was a fake, but I just belted it out and did my best. Everybody thought I had a lovely voice. I still love to sing. It’s only a hobby, but those are important too.

    If you take anything from my story, just know that you don’t have to die for things to change. I don’t know if life ever gets easy for anybody, but it can be good if you put your energy into what you love and things that make you feel like you are a worthwhile person. Don’t let the bullies convince you otherwise. They just don’t know any better. It does’t excuse their behavior, but it means that they don’t know more than you do. They aren’t right just because they are louder. They aren’t right just because they are the majority. They are just bullies and you know yourself better than they ever will.

    When you know what makes your life worthwhile, nobody can take that away from you. You might lose sight of it from time to time, but you’ll always come back to it.

    Also, don’t give up on your dreams. They may not happen when you want them to or the way you expect them to, but they are important. They can guide you to the things you need.

    I’ve wanted to learn to play the guitar my whole life. I’m 33 and I’m finally able to do so. I don’t know why that dream has always been so important when it seemed I could never make it come true, but right now, when I have a panic attack, my guitar is what makes me feel better. It’s a little thing in the grand scheme of life, but it’s hugely important to the quality of my life.

    Dreams are vital because that’s where hope lives. Hope is what keeps us alive when it seems that all hope is lost. Don’t give up hope. Life is always changing.

  90. Okay, I just have to say that hating thin people, or popular people, or pretty people, or girlie people, or basically any “type” of people in general is something I find to be counterproductive.

    That’s why I specifically used the phrase “the ‘popular’ kids who pick on you.” Because often it’s not the most genuinely popular kids who do this — hell, a lot of them don’t really have the time for that kind of stuff — but the ones who fancy themselves the ringleaders. Hence “popular” in quotes.

  91. Dear Miss Thirteen,

    When I was thirteen, I weighed a bit more than you do now, and I’m a few inches taller. I lived through the same things — getting bullied by kids at school, my mother constantly on a diet, a prettier sister. I felt exactly the same way — absolutely desperate and wanting to just die every day.

    So I went on a diet (with my mother), and I lost weight. As soon as I lost it, I gained it right back, plus some more, so I went on another diet, and immediately gained it back plus more — and so on, for thirty years until 2004, at age 44, when I found people like me on the internet, who’d figured out that dieting was just making them fatter and less healthy.

    I made it out of my teens, went to college and got a Master’s degree, married a really gorgeous man who loves me dearly, and became an architect. Now I have my own practice, and I really love my life. I’m healthy as a horse. And I’ve never been thin for more than a few weeks.

    Getting through your teens is absolute hell — there’s simply no way to make it easier, just know that it will be hard. It’s hard for people who are average, and doubly hard for those of us who are unusual in any way. You will make it. Just know that you will. On the other side of it, you’ll find a happy life and look back and marvel at how tough you were.

    What really helps me today — and I wish it had been around during those awful days when I was younger — is coming here, reading this blog and talking to these gals. There is a big community of us here on the internet (just look at all the links on the Shapely Prose home page!), and we never go to bed. I know it seems insane, but the vast majority of the world still believes that dieting and losing weight is good for you, despite the research that says differently — when you talk to them, you’re bound to feel badly. Don’t talk to them. Talk to us. We’ve all lived with our larger-than-average bodies for varying lengths of time, and even when we can’t give you answers, we at least understand how you feel.

    Love, Minerva

  92. Dear 13,
    I can’t really add much to what everyone else has said, but yeah to it all. The thing about all of the cute popular people? Many of them are peaking NOW. They have nowhere else to go but down, and a lot of them will and hard. That’s a horrible, petty thing to think, but it got me through a few bad spots, let me tell you.
    I wish in some ways I could be a teenager now instead of 20 years ago – there are so many more good larger role models now. I know, you don’t see hardly any, but that’s still a lot more than the zero there used to be. One quick fix for when you’re feeling down could be to go to Torrid online (torrid.com) and look at those models – they’re big, they’re gorgeous, they know it and they’re confident about it. You might not be able to afford those clothes (I know I can’t!), but it might give you some ideas on clothes that would flatter you and make you feel better about your body. Alight.com also has cool clothes that are sometimes cheaper on sale. I don’t want to cheapen your feelings by saying that clothes will help you feel better, because I think you definitely should see a counselor (and if they say “Sure, you should lose weight”, fire their ass and find a better one). But, I know what rotten choices most stores have for big girls, and it always made me feel like I didn’t even deserve something nice to wear. You do. And you deserve to be treated like you deserve it.

  93. Just to clarify, I totally wasn’t calling anyone out specifically, in re: thin-pretty-popular bashing; I just feel like there’s a vibe running through a lot of comments, and I wanted to speak to that. I have personally had a hard time not demonizing people who I perceived were closer to societal norms in various ways, but finding ways to keep my problems about me – and no one else – has been more productive for me in the long run.

  94. I wish in some ways I could be a teenager now instead of 20 years ago

    I was thinking about this the other day, and I’m so glad I am not a teen today. I was always on the larger side of average, and I really never got crap about it. I feel like we are less accepting, because of the obesity epidemic hysteria, of bodies being different sizes, and I’m sure I would have gotten a bunch of warning lectures from doctors and the school nurse about how I was “at risk” if I was a teen today.

    I don’t know how fat kids today manage to grow up with their self-esteem intact, but they have my utmost respect. I cannot imagine growing up in an environment where, as Kate so astutely pointed out the other day, your very body is seen as a public problem (and even a global crisis). I wish we’d stop and think for one freaking minute what all of this rhetoric is doing to the young people who are hearing it all the time.

  95. Hi 13,

    There’s some great advice above – I second all of it, particularly finding something you like and doing it. Even if you have to grit your teeth to get through school every day, if you have a group of friends outside school can really get you through the bad patches. If you hate the PE lessons but you want to exercise, find something you like doing (swimming, dancing, walking, cycling) and do it outside of school.

    One thing that really helped me when I was a teenager was reading Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth. You can get it from Amazon here:

    It opened my eyes to how all the stuff I’d been beating myself up with (not being pretty enough, not being thin enough) was constructed to make women feel bad and then sell them things to make themselves feel better. Have a look at some feminist sites – Feministe and Feministing are great. The F-word (http://www.thefword.org.uk/) is a UK feminist site that you might like.

    Most importantly, tell someone how bad you are feeling. If you go and see your GP, s/he should be able to recommend a counsellor. Talking to someone can really help to lessen the bad feelings. If you can, talk to your parents. If not, if there is someone supportive in your life (adult or friend), talk to them. You deserve to feel better than this.

    Hang in there.

  96. A few months ago, I got an email from someone who, when I was 13, was a horrible obnoxious bully that made my life miserable.

    She was writing to apologise for everything she’d ever done to me.

    It sounded a bit stilted, and I suspect it was probably part of some self-help program she’d joined or something, but still, she did write and she did say she treated me horribly because she was unhappy and insecure and I was an easy target to take out her own personal demons on.

    But the most important part isn’t that the bullies will eventually see the error of their ways. (Some will, but not all.) The most important part is that by this point, I no longer cared. In fact, I can’t even remember precisely what she did to me. I know we hated each other. I can remember one or two minor incidents. But the weight of bullying and misery? Gone.

    I’ve grown up. I have a lifestyle for my former classmates to envy. I live by the seaside, I have wonderful people that love me, I am sufficiently successful in my career that I can do and dress entirely as I please.

    You have no power over me.

  97. Oops, I meant to post a link to Joy Nash’s original Fat Rant. The end part, when she suggests you think back to how cute you were when you were younger… Well, I think all of us can identify with that – and you are at that age. You’re lovely, I promise you, and I know you won’t believe that now, but you really are.

  98. Everyone else has said it, but I can’t help chiming in. 13 is absolute hell. For everyone. I was a fat girl, and it was hell for me at the time. Looking back, I can see that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was then–age and maturity do help a lot. And I’m still fat. In fact, much fatter than I was then. Please don’t starve yourself–I firmly believe it was dieting that wrecked my metabolism and caused me to go from “fat” in the eyes of my classmates to truly fat. But at the time, I tried it, and got no results, and felt like dying.

    My younger cousin who just turned 16 is a girl of literally model proportions–basically perfect in every way, physically and everything else. She’s talented, funny, intelligent, nice, athletic, and every other thing I ever wished I could be. And guess what? Three years ago she told me she thought about hurting herself because she thought she was ugly and worthless.

    All of this is just to say, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I remember feeling I was, and that was the hardest part. Thirteen is the age where all the pressures of society suddenly seem to come to bear on us, plus we’re going though all those rotten hormonal changed, and it will flat out fuck you up. As hard as it is to see it now, as hard as I remember every day being then, as tired as you probably are of hearing it, it got better with time.

    Now, to get through this exact time, you’ve gotten some great advice! What helped me was writing–I spent almost every moment I could writing stories and poems. I also read a lot. I was in the computer club at my school, which was how I finally made friends. Later, in high school, I joined the newspaper. What do you enjoy? What do you want to try? Think about what you’re good at, what you like, because those are things that set you apart as a person that have absolutely zero to do with your weight, and they’re much more important.

  99. Oh, hunny. Being 13 is one of the worst things. But the good news is, 13 comes and goes pretty quickly, as does 14, and before you know it you’re almost 16, and then you’ve left school and can pick your own college and, here’s the best thing, you get to START OVER FROM SCRATCH. When I was 13 I hated the whole world and especially myself. Other kids were relentless- every day it was more teasing, and cruelty, and being tripped up and having things thrown at me. I wore baggy clothes to hide in, kept a big thick fringe and bought the ugliest pair of glasses ever to hide behind. I walked all hunched up, to try and make myself as small as possible.

    So I found safe spaces for myself. An area of open ground with trees and bushes that the other kids didn’t bother with, the attic at home, my uncle’s house, where I would go with a CD player, a good book, and maybe some paper and draw, write, dance, sing, and forget the world. I found things I loved doing, like lifting weights, bellydancing, and cooking, that were good for my body and that made me feel good, and I did them, all alone if need be, in my safe spaces. And I found someone to talk to about how I felt. A counsellor, who listened and just let me talk.

    And then one day, something just snapped, and I decided I just didn’t care what anyone else thought. I started wearing pretty clothes because I liked them, and didn’t give a flying monkey’s what anyone else thought. I got a dramatic new haircut, and started dressing the way I dreamed of dressing “if I ever become thin and pretty”. I got angry, and started walking tall and proud, head high, with a look in my eyes that dared anyone to even think of treating me badly. I talked back, and stood up for myself. And you know what? All those stupid, shallow and cruel little people started wondering what they’d been missing, where this confident girl had suddenly sprung up from, and wanted to talk to me. And the look on their face as, simply by ignoring them and carrying on, I made it clear that I was not interested in THEM, was just SO GOOD.

    And then, I went to college, and STARTED there as this big, loud, gorgeous confident girl that just didn’t care, and I met loads of awesome people, and boys, and got to spend time with people who I WANTED to spend time with, and who wanted to spend time with me.

    So hold tight, do things for yourself, and just please please come here any time you need to, and find someone to talk to.

  100. OK, where can I start, and what can I say that everyone else hasn’t said already? (Not much, but I’ll say something anyway.)

    First things first. If you’ve been considering suicide, you need to tell someone. This may or may not be your parents. My own family of origin goes straight into denial around dark feelings – some families are like that, and they’re unfortunately often exactly the families that have a genetic tendency to depression. Also, when I was 13 my parents absolutely didn’t take me seriously about anything, least of all my own feelings – that was part of what made my teens hellish. You’ll know whether or not your parents come into this category. If they do, seek out another adult – teacher, youth worker, just someone who will listen to you in confidence and help you to get the help you need. If you can’t find anyone. call The Samaritans – 08457 90 90 90, or visit http://www.samaritans.org. They will always listen.

    Your doctor is another good port of call. As several people have mentioned, clinical depression is a different beast from ‘ordinary’ teen angst, and medication can be a good thing. People are starting to at least accept that depression occurs in teenagers these days; I was already suffering it in my teens, but didn’t get diagnosed till I was past 30.

    If you’re being bullied at school, tell someone about that too. Being abused when you’re trying to get an education is not acceptable. Schools vary in how well they deal with this – mine was crap – but getting a friendly teacher on your side can be a great help.

    Find something in your life that you can be passionate about. Computers if that’s your thing, books, whatever. I’m with twilightriver – playing guitar rocks, and helped me find my way out of an extremely dark patch just a few years back – but whatever floats your boat. Anything at all.

    Try your darnedest to ignore the media. Hard, I know, but when a 39 year old woman who’s comfortable with her body can still occasionally feel bad just glancing at a glossy magazine, you know that when you’re a hyper-body-conscious 13 year old, they’re a bad idea.

    Remember that however you feel now, whatever other people think (or whatever you believe they think – it’s easy to assume the worst), you are a valuable and worthy human being, and you do deserve to be happy. We live in a very superficial society, and it’s easy to get sucked into the lie that only the pretty ones get the breaks, and that you can never be ‘pretty enough’. It’s a lie. It’s a huge lie that my mother, for one, swallowed wholeheartedly and spent hours trying to inculcate into me at your age. When I look back now, at 39, I realize how much time I wasted trying to look right and fit in when what I needed to be doing was working out who I really was. Despite the years it’s taken, I’m now happy doing just that, but I wish I’d learned it earlier. (Also, not fitting in is heaps more fun. Seriously.)

    I don’t know how much any of this helps, but I hope it does, a little. You have so much to look forward to, even if you don’t realize it now.

    Stick around…please. Things do get better.

  101. Not much to add to all these great comments… If you like watching movies, watch a movie every night! You can start with Hairspray and then watch all of the 1,000 Best movies ever made: http://www.nytimes.com/ref/movies/1000best.html
    By the time you finish this, you’ll be almost 17 and you’ll have a collection of real and fictional life stories to share, besides your own. If you don’t like to watch movies, read books. Both are inspirational and can help us getting different perspectives of our own lives.

  102. I’m so sorry. Keep in mind what Meowzer said – because boy do I believe it – that people will treat you like shit just so they don’t wind up on the chopping block. This includes people who may genuinely like you. There are a couple of guys from my tween years who were almost romantic when we were alone, then completely turned on me when the outside world did not approve.

    People at your age are just trying to survive, but eventually most of them realize that no matter how much they fit in they’re still miserable, and that really, fitting in for the sake of fitting in can be quite dull. People become braver, smarter, more intellectually curious, and above all, compassionate. Not everyone, mind you, but a lot of them. This is why I think it *does* get better – the age group as a whole is maturing.

    And I can validate this with personal experience. High school (for me) was no picnic but the crowd was at least more diverse and the kids smarter than in jr. high, and I always managed to find offbeat people to connect to. College was just a complete 180. I’ve only been a year in, and already I’m dropping my old insecurities. Fat, for one. I felt pretty silly fretting over my overweight status when fat chicks all around were snagging guys – including skinny, conventionally hot ones. People are also a bit lax on looks in general. I don’t know if it’s because we’re all sleeping three hours a night and thus have no energy to fret over such trivial matters, or that the things we’re studying and the lives we’re carving out for ourselves seem more important.

    I guess that’s it. The world gets so much bigger and more interesting that the quest to be hot or even good-looking sort of disappears, most of the time. I won’t lie to you; where I’m at there are still judgmental assholes, but there are also plenty of sensible people who remind me that humanity is not at a loss.

    Best of luck to you.

  103. I didn’t read all of the comments, but I had to add mine anyway, just in case you get this far.

    I could have written that letter. I wrote something strikingly similar to it in my journal when I was 13. It is a horrible time, but I promise, it will get better. It will.

    I also tried to overdose, which thankfully didn’t work. Please don’t try it. Even though you feel bad, you feel like you are unworthy, there are people who love you, who care about you, who would be devestated and horrified if you committed suicide. It might not feel like that. It might feel like you are all alone, but I promise you, it is true. You are loved.

    13 sucks. Your body is changing, quickly, and sometimes faster than you can keep up with. I promise you – it will not be like that forever. Don’t try to lose weight. Try to eat well, and don’t let what you think about your physical abilities hold you back from trying something new. Trying to participate in P.E. and not doing well is really not that bad. I promise you, most of your classmates are more concerned about how THEY look doing something to worry about how you look.

    You are going to get taller, probably curvier, and your body will change a few more times before you settle in to your adult size. Your body’s adult size and shape may not be model-thin, but if you treat it well – by enjoying yourself and all the things your body can do – then it will be beautiful.

    This is a tough time. All of these comments attest to that. Save these and, when you are feeling bad, read them again. It feels like you are all alone, but all of us have been through this, and made it out the other side. You can too.

  104. I have been 13, and I have been fat, and I would rather be twice as fat as I am now than be 13 again. 13 was the worst year of my life–not just because i was fat, but because teenagers are jerks. And on top of it all, I lived with a family member who was anorexic.

    I am going to tell you a story about a very dear friend of mine. He is a lovely man who would never dream of saying anything mean about anyone. One day we were in a restaurant, and this absolutely stunning, gorgeous woman came up to us and said hello. He talked to her for a while, and then she told him that when they were 13, she had asked him out on a date and he had told her that she was weird and had a rat face. He had completely forgotten about it, and he felt awful when she reminded him.

    I am saying this to let you know that teenagers are incalculably cruel, but many of them eventually grow out of it. Not only that, but often they regret the things they did at that age. I know I wish I could apologize for some of the things I said to other people growing up.

    I am still fat–but I am also a successful career woman, with loads of friends, and I regularly get asked for my phone number when I am out and about. I’m not saying these things to brag, but just to let you know–it can happen to you too, and it will! When I was a kid I would never have imagined that these things were possible, but they are.

    Talk to your mum. That’s one thing I wish I had done. My mum only realizes now the amount of heartbreak I was going through at that time.

    If you can, talk to a counselor at school. They are there to help, and not to judge.

    You say you like to hang out online–you should check out some of the blogs and communities devoted to fat fashion and fat issues. Finding fashionable clothes that fit you and developing your own personal style will help you feel better about your appearance than any diet would.

    I hope all of these comments make you see that your life is worth something. Because it is. It has a value beyond measure. We all care about you, and we wish you the very best.

    Please take care.

  105. Dear 13:

    Oh, sweetie, I feel your pain. I’ll be twenty-three in a few weeks, so I’m just about ten years ahead of you at this point and God, do I remember how much 13 sucked.

    Of course it gets better, not that it helps all that much right now. Trust me, I’ve never met anyone who was happier at 13 than at 23 or 33 or whatever.

    High school is not a natural state. High school is, in fact, horrible and I know that at this point in your life you can’t imagine a time when you won’t be forced to spend your waking hours in the company of people who make you feel miserable–but trust me, it will end, and sooner than you think. Just hang in there. Talk to someone. If you can’t talk to your parents, find someone you can talk to.

    I also second all the people who said to get angry. Really, get mad! You have the right to be pissed off, because your situation is shitty and you don’t deserve it. There’s no reason for you to suffer in silence. As for the teasers, laugh at them. If you get angry or hurt, they just do it more and more–but if you laugh at them or roll your eyes, they aren’t getting anything out of teasing you. It won’t stop everything, but it’ll help a lot.

  106. Just to clarify, I totally wasn’t calling anyone out specifically, in re: thin-pretty-popular bashing; I just feel like there’s a vibe running through a lot of comments, and I wanted to speak to that.

    I think it’s a really good point to make, Tari. It’s too easy to start talking about the thin-pretty-popular people as Others, which leads to dehumanizing them and making exactly the kind of appearance-based, stereotypical assumptions that piss us right off when we’re on the receiving end.

    Having said that, it IS important to realize at 13 that the social hierarchy you’re stuck in will not remain static throughout your life — you will not be ostracized forever, and the people who seem all-powerful in high school will eventually have to enter the adult world, where very few people give a tiny rat’s ass about how many 14-year-old boys thought they were hot, once upon a time. But it’s not as simple as “the tables will turn, and you will be more socially powerful than the cheerleaders someday!” That may be true, it may not, but first, plenty of former cheerleaders are perfectly decent people — I’ve even been known to hang out with a few of them — and second, the point is that people grow up. Eventually, only right assholes will judge your worth primarily by how you look, while that’s the number one standard in adolescence. (Sure, there’s still judgment, hence this site, but after high school, people who think having the right clothes and the right body are the most important indicators of a person’s worth get far fewer in number and are widely considered to be shallow, ridiculous, and pathetic.)

    So yeah, absolutely, hating on the skinny and popular kids — not to mention assuming they don’t have any real problems of their own — is totally counterproductive and unkind, to boot. And once you’re a grown-up, there’s really no excuse for making broad assumptions based on appearances. But it is definitely worth mentioning — and hoping 13 will believe — that the social structure of high school does not necessarily presage the social structure of the adult world.

  107. Oh, honey, there is NOTHING worse than being 13. I’m 24 and just thinking about being 13 again terrifies me. Children are cruel. Your body is changing in extremely awkward ways. Adults don’t know how to respond to you or deal with you because you do not fit into their definition of child OR of adult. You’re in this constant state of in-between and because of that, everything feels wrong.

    Here’s the thing. You will not be a teenager forever. Your body will continue to change and grow — you may still end up fat or you may grow in a completely different direction (take this from a chubby pre-teen and fat teenager who’s not a very skinny adult). Your peers will get nicer — some of them, at least. Some of them will always be rotten human beings but that is their problem and has NOTHING to do with you. Boys will get more mature and realize that there is a lot more to liking a girl than liking their body. In fact, many boys like larger bodies, especially once they’re mature enough to deal with the prospect of liking girls.

    First, I do think it’s important that you find someone you trust to talk to about this. Whether it’s a teacher, a counsellor, a religious leader, a family friend, a relative… talk to someone. Adults remember what it was like to be your age. They remember how confusing and painful it was. If you can go to a doctor, talk to them about your issues. They may want to do some tests. They may want to talk to you about how depressed you’re feeling and whether it is something that could be treated. (And if you’re not at the point of trusting someone offline, I extend my email coronarythief@gmail.com because when I was your age I wasn’t ready either and got a lot of support and help from people online — I would absolutely love to hear from you!)

    Next, and this is going to be hard because a lot of people don’t start thinking about this stuff until they are much older, start exploring the things that you are passionate about and what you are physically and intellectually capable of. You are far, far, far, FAR MORE than what your body looks like. Find a sport or physical activity that you actually enjoy doing and practice it to discover your own power and what your body is capable of doing, not in an attempt to lose weight. You may lose some weight but more importantly you will become more comfortable with your body. Start slowly — PE is hard for everyone who has not grown up with sports because there is always very little instruction and almost no time to learn. You’re just expected to get it and be good at it immediately which is absolutely ridiculous. Next, try to figure out what you love learning. Pick up some new hobbies. Really explore them, become as good as possible. As you get older, you may very well find that instead of being “the fat girl” you become “the girl who takes amazing photographs” or “the girl who’s a fabulous knitter” or “the girl who speaks fluent Cantonese”. It’s also a lot easier to meet nicer, interesting people when you have interests or hobbies in common. Read. Write. Watch lots of amazing old movies (try stuff from the Criterion Collection). Learn to play an instrument. Learn how to garden and create your own container garden full of beautiful wildflowers. Learn to sew or make jewelry. Go for long walks just to look at the beauty of the world. Be nice to yourself because, no matter how awful other people are, you are worthy of respect, compassion and love and the best way to get that is to start by treating yourself that way.

    Don’t like back and take it when people are awful to you. That’s the one thing I wish I’d done differently. Don’t roll over and let them be cruel. Call them on their shit — half the time, high schoolers aren’t anywhere near as brave as they pretend to be and many will back down when you call them out. If you are being bullied, tell someone at school. If they don’t do anything, tell someone else. Keep telling adults with power until someone takes you seriously and helps you make it stop because you absolutely should not have to put up with that.

    I promise that things get better. I really do. There are so many strong, thoughtful, intelligent, beautiful women here to attest to that. There are so many of us who have been nearly exactly where you are and have emerged happy, loved and successful. In the end, what your body looks like is not important. What it can do and that you are healthy is important. The things you think and believe are important. I know you can make it through this and I believe that, as much as this hurts, you will be a better person for it. You will emerge more self-aware, more thoughtful, more confident and ready to start your REAL life and that will make it all worthwhile. (And seriously, if you want to talk to someone, feel free to e-mail me. No judgement here.)

  108. In that last one, I meant “now a very skinny adult” not that it has much bearing on the rest of my comment! I really shouldn’t type at work!

  109. Dear, beautiful,13, when I was your age I felt the same way. I don’t know how I found the strength and courage to survive, but I did. In the many years since, I have found that the people who have bullied or hurt me usually did that because there was something wrong with them, they enjoyed hurting people or were too selfish to care what they did to others. It has never been because there was anything “wrong” with me. You are not being bullied because you are bad or wrong. You are a good person who has a lot to give this world.
    As for PE-most PE teachers seem to be incompetent to start with. When I was in school they did stupid things ranging from making the kids run right after lunch and not caring when some of them vomited, to making them play soccer(football) on the hottest day of the year and risking heatstroke. I hated PE, but I loved swimming and horseback riding and dance classes.
    You said you have thought of suicide. I also thought of killing myself when I was your age, and I know now what a terrible mistake it would have been. My parents did not listen to me or give me affection, and did some things that would be considered abuse now, and I thought if I died they wouldn’t care. I learned later how wrong I was. If I had commited suicide they would have grieved, and blamed themselves, for the rest of there lives. This my not make sense at your age (it wouldn’t have made sense to me then), but when someone your age commits suicide, they are choosing death over life, without having enough experience to know what life really is. Please, please, tell someone, a teacher, your doctor, your priest, someone. If you have depression, it is an illness like any other and nothing to be ashamed of.
    I can’t add much more to what the others have said. Just remember, it’s the people who are bullies and hurt others who are wrong or bad, not the people like you who are bullied. You have a full life ahead of you, and it will be much better than it looks now. Please, let us know how you are. You have my best wishes, and lots of hugs.

  110. Oh dear. I am a British ex-thirteen year old and it’s vile. It isn’t just you, 13,honestly. Being in Year 8 and 9 is awful for everyone whether they’re fat or thin. I wasn’t fat when I was thirteen, but people were still horrible to me. One moment they were speaking to me and the next they weren’t. Keep an eye on the “in” crowd and you’ll see that people are “in” one minute and out on their ear the next. No one really knows whether they’re coming or going. It’s just adolescence, honestly. More hormones than you can shake a stick at and everyone’s all over the place and picking on someone else for no reason. If it isn’t because they’re fat it’s because they’re spotty or too tall or too short or too clever or not clever enough.

    Basically everyone gets a turn at being popular and everyone gets a turn at being incredibly miserable and left out.

    I promise you, 13, you are not going through this because of your weight. You are going through it because you are 13 and being 13 is very hard. Find things you like to do and just keep reminding yourself there is much more to you than a figure on a set of scales. By the time you’re 15 you’ll barely be able to remember what 13 is like, and 15 is much, much closer than you think it is. Hang in there.

  111. Re: thin-pretty-popular kids at 13, and I don’t think this is bashing… but I do think that would be crazy-making too, at 13, to be popular, in sort of the same way that being a Hollywood celebrity would be crazy-making. In the sense that you get this position of status by being the “best” in a vicious beast of a competition, but you know you’re just one public fart or menstrual mishap (or visible erection, I suppose, if you’re a guy?) away from being mangled and torn apart by that very same beast. That would fill me with fear, anyway. I was that way with grades and academic achievement for a while, not social popularity, but it was not fun. Anyway, that’s why I speculate – and to some extent have on good authority – that the popular kids are insecure too and are comparing themselves to others. And that one “advantage” (not that it’s fun) of being at the bottom is that you’re going to be tormented whether you invest the popularity struggle with importance or not, so you might as well not.

  112. As a former popular, skinny cheerleader I really applaud your comment, A Sarah. It is hard. I mean, that is NO excuse — not for the kids who are abusing 13, and not for the things I did as a teenager — but it’s…. well, something. It’s an insight.

    So, A Sarah, my question is this: Have I told you… lately… that I love you? Hee.

  113. Dear 13:

    …Honestly, I can’t give you better advice than Deborah Lipp already has, waaay up there at the beginning, because that’s what I needed to hear when I was 13 and convinced I was hideous and that everything wrong with me was my fault.

    Nothing, nothing, nothing that is making you miserable right now is your fault. Not your size, not your depression, not your classmates and their nasty comments. NOTHING. The real you is just fine and is allowed to just be the just fine person she is.

    Eat when you’re hungry. Not-eating will make you cranky and depressed, and I’m sure you already have plenty of that. Move around when you feel restless. Sleep when you’re tired.

    And don’t ever, ever give up. Believe me: life gets WAY better.

  114. But it’s not as simple as “the tables will turn, and you will be more socially powerful than the cheerleaders someday!”

    Plus, if you predicate your own happiness on the idea that ten years from now, the thin pretty cheerleader valedictorian varsity athlete superhero won’t be successful, you’re giving her wayyy too much power over you now. Life isn’t a movie; you can’t pin your hopes of future contentment on it following a script where the pretty cheerleader turns out to have an empty and shallow life and one day at the class reunion looks deep into your eyes and intones “I was so jealous of you when we were thirteen” and the music swells.

    Thirteen, this, too, shall pass. You sound very lonely, and I second everyone else to see if you can find some trusted adult: your mom, an auntie, a teacher, a school counselor, someone to talk to about feeling so down. Hating your life when you’re thirteen is understandable; feeling at the end of your rope isn’t.

    I don’t know whether your weight gain has come on suddenly, but while being overweight in and of itself isn’t unhealthy, if it’s come on very quickly, it might be worth talking to a doctor (especially given the depression.) Chances are, though, your body is just figuring out where it’s going to be. Everyone’s body goes through lots of changes at this age, growing suddenly, gaining weight, skin & hair changing. It’s normal to find that a little weird, whether you’re fat or thin.

    Try to eat well. Not to lose weight, but to ensure your body has all the nutrients it needs as it figures out how to be a woman. Try to get a little exercise. Not to lose weight, but because moving around is good for you on many levels, physically and mentally. Try to find something you love to do, and people to share it with. That’s just good for your soul.

    Hang in there, Thirteen. It will get better.

  115. Dear Sweet, Wonderful You!
    Thank you for being so absolutely honest with us about how you feel about yourself. I know it must have been difficult for you to open up like that, and I for one am so proud of you for doing so! Your bravery is divine and already I am impressed by you!
    I want you to know that I understand how you feel. I have been you, as have many others here on this website. I have cried myself to sleep begging God for a magic cure to my “chubbiness” and woken up disappointed day after day. Take heart my dear one, for believe it or not, it DOES get better. 13 does not define you for the rest of your life. You still have some growing to do and life to live.
    You sound like a bright and sweet person in spite of all the flaws you believe you have. Being fat does not make you a horrible person. Being fat is just a state of your being. Period. End of story. Who you really are is inside you. Your charm, your intelligence, your abilities. All of THOSE things define the person that you are, NOT your size. Bring those things to the forefront of your personality. Be who you are on the inside that person others see on the outside.
    For me, it was my wit. I was a class clown at school and would go to any lengths to make people laugh. For you it may be a fantastic smile, being smart as a whip, a poet or writer with an incredible eye for detail, an artist, computer genius, or exceptional listener. Whatever it is that you have (and we ALL have something) project it on the outside in the way you speak, the clothes you wear, the way you carry yourself, your mannerisms, etc.
    Sadly, high school is a time for all of us that focuses mostly on appearance. This is true everywhere. Most kids are able to shift away from that by the time graduation occurs, but it’s still a big part of life. The key for me was letting my personality shine through.
    The truth is, you can’t control what others think of your looks, but you can control what you project to others. Start loving yourself at the weight you are RIGHT NOW and don’t place too much emphasis on what others perceive you to be. Others who get to know you will see that you are your own person, and that is attractive, likeable and a good way to be.
    Hugs and warm fuzzies to you!!

  116. I love you too sarawr!! :)

    (Even though I’ve kind of been hiding from you because I felt sad that I lost track of which thread it was on that I asked you about the parallels between fat and hijab-wearing and you had this brilliant reply and I wrote a reply saying it was brilliant and then it didn’t post and then I had to go do something and one thing led to another and it was a week later and I couldn’t remember where your comment went.)

    :gasps for air:

    But whenever I see that you’ve commented I giggle and go “sa-RAWR!” With a kitten-claw motion. Yes, out loud.

  117. 13, I don’t know if you’re reading, but if you are, I just want to reiterate some of the things other people have said in the thread.

    One is, being depressed/suicidal is something that can get better. I can’t stress that enough. Not sure how many years of my life I spent dealing with it, but more years than you’ve been alive, anyway. Therapy helped some. Antidepressants helped a *lot* (in my case; I know everyone’s is different).

    It’s hard, when you are depressed, to see any hope, any answers. It seems like it’s your fate, your destiny, like you deserve to feel awful because you are such a bad awful person, and if you were just *stronger* or more *normal* or something, if you’d been born different, then you could be happy, but as it is, you feel like happiness is a shallow lie.

    But depression is the lie. It *is*. I promise. And no matter what happens with your weight, or anything else in your life, you can make the depression better.

    The other thing is, going back to something Arwen said:

    “All sorts of us fat kids who became fat teenagers and then fat adults have found romance and love.”

    This. I wanted to say that a person who is not only fat, but also possesses many other flaws (both physical and personality), even this person can find an incredibly wonderful mate. Not “wonderful because he puts up with crappy old me”, but wonderful because OMG he is a smart, funny, principled, affectionate, sexy man. You don’t need to lose weight or become a perfect person to deserve that. You deserve that already. It might not happen; some people just never find the right person, and some people aren’t even interested in that in the first place. But if it’s something you want (and I’m guessing it might be, at least right now), then you should know that your chances are just as good as anyone else’s.

    You *will* get out. You *will* be able to live on your own one day, and make your own life. College is good for that, if you can possibly get there. But no matter what, it will happen.

    Please, come back and post some more! Keep standing up and saying “This is what it is like to be me”. That’s maybe the most important thing, to help yourself and to help other people too, like all the other 13-year-olds who are reading this right now.

  118. I want to really echo what Regina T. wrote — you are brave, strong, powerful (powerful enough to have all of these amazing women write to you) and you are living through a really tough time.
    In other words, it’s not you, it’s 13.
    I’m nearly 40 years old, and for me, it’s all turned out okay. I was a little shorter than you and thought I was very, very fat at age 13 because I weighed about 30 pounds more than the “charts” (this was before BMI) said I should.
    I thought I wouldn’t ever have a boyfriend, and I had plenty of boyfriends, including some who loved me more than I loved them. (There’s a song called “You Can’t Hurry Love” that might provide some relief). I had no idea what life had in store for me, but now I have a career that I love and have had lots of great experiences, and I hope to have many more in the future.

    Right now, being aware of what it is that makes you vulnerable to teasing or other people putting you down feels very important, doesn’t it. But not too long from now, you’ll be able to let go of that and focus on what is unique and fabulous about yourself. So, every time you have a moment to think about something great about yourself, nurture and cultivate that like a tender seedling, and let it grow.

    Also, you have a right to feel angry — you don’t deserve the treatment you are getting. This is where it can be helpful to find someone (an adult) to talk to, hopefully one who will tell you that no matter what a person weighs, they deserve to be treated with love and respect. You deserve that. And those jerks teasing you and your mom and sister who aren’t supporting you, you can be angry at them. Express your anger — on the internet, in writing, painting, stomping on the ground, or in the office of a mental health professional, or all of the above. Teenagers are supposed to be angry.

    Okay, that’s probably what I would wish my 13 year old self could have known.

    And you can reach my through my blog, too.

  119. Most importantly I’d like to repeat something my counsellor in middle school told me when I was having problems: “Suicide is a permanent solution to what is only a temporary problem.”

    Other than that, I can assure you that I am living proof that life can and most certainly DOES improve. High school is not an easy period in your life, no matter what TV may want you to believe. They are not your glory years. Hang in there, laugh it off and when you reach the end you’ll be a stronger person.

    You’re already stronger and capable of more than you would EVER believe. Don’t give up before you can realize your full potential.

    You are a beautiful and AMAZING human being and you WILL find people in this world who can see the glowing and wonderful person you are, inside and out.

    The world would be a much poorer place for the loss of you. Don’t ever doubt that. All these comments in only a few hours from people who have never met you, yet you have touched us.

    That’s how important you are.

  120. I was a tall, skinny 14 year old and I, too was desperately miserable and suicidal. Losing weight won’t magically solve all your problems; it’s just a really tough age! You’ll come out all the stronger for it.

  121. I’m putting my bid in for doing stuff that makes you feel good now. Activities and food. I’m not talking denying yourself any food, just aiming for that multicolour thing – try to eat colourful, interesting food, it has a habit of making you feel better. Don’t cut out the comfort food, just add the fresh and tasties if they are not already there. Can’t tell you how much difference it makes to my mood. And drink plenty of water. That seems to make me feel better too. No idea why.

    And seriously, find the online community that makes your heart feel light and happy, remember how awesome you are. As everyone has already said, high school pretty much sucks, but if you have other stuff to do, it minimises the grief while you ride it out. When I was in the middle of one of the worst periods of my life, someone told me “This will make a great war story one day.” They were right, and I was lucky enough to be able to see it at the time. If you can’t yet (and fair play at 13), try to find other stuff to focus on. The world is much wider and more interesting than your mates and teachers would have you believe. Don’t miss out on it because they are too small to see it.

  122. Like many people here, I really relate to you, 13. When I was that age I would hide in my room and no one knew how depressed I was except for a few clever friends on occasion. I wanted to badly to be thinner that I would go through periods where I would over-exercise and try my damnedest to eat only an orange a day. But my body couldn’t sustain it because my body needed food and rest.
    My depression was ceaseless, but slowly I learned that that feeling..the feeling of complete hopelessness…was only temporary. No matter how real it felt, I always got through. The clouds always parted, at least for awhile. Things got better.
    Life doesn’t one day become all peachy, but you learn a lot through everything in life…and you get through it. You get more independence, you get to a point where you become more sturdy in who you are and what you stand for. As others have said, you will find out how fabulous you are.
    Lastly, I know it feels safe (in a way) to isolate yourself in your room…and maybe you feel like it’s the only option right now…but if you can, get out and do some things, even if by yourself. Sometimes getting out and doing something can lift your spirits in a way you never expected.
    Hopelessness blinds us of how strong and beautiful we really are…I hope some day you can feel that strength inside of you.

  123. hello sweet pea. i’m so glad you’re asking for help, because you are freaking awesome and you deserve every ounce of love that is posted here. i hope you read all the comments above mine, because i know what kind of people comment here and it will be worth it. that’s good, because it’ll take a lot of kind words to undo the damage from the unfair, hateful bullshit you endure every day.

    you are so like my 13 year old self, i just want to hug you and swear it will be okay and to beg you to hang in there because life does get so, so much better. this is the worst part, no one i’ve ever known would repeat adolescence, it does seem really, really awful somedays. the kind of awful you just can not get away from.

    as i say that, i also know that my 13 year old self would have listened and been thankful for the hugs and *still* sob, because hearing that it gets easier isn’t enough! because my 13 year old self would know that i still have to go out there tomorrow and deal with all that shit again! so what that in three or four years it will be better – THREE OR FOUR YEARS IS 4 EFFING EVER and even if i believe that it gets better, i’d wail, i still have to get through right NOW! how do i do that??

    i’m so sorry that is your world; i was desperate to change mine, too, and i went to such extremes to try to get out. extremes like you are thinking of trying right now. i know how very, very tempting it is.

    please don’t do any of those things to try to end your life, nothing that i did and nothing you’ve considered. but know that you’re not alone thinking about it. you’d be crazy *not* to think of every. conceivable. path. out. that’s what sane minds do when everything seems to suck! they try for any way out.

    so what can you do? well, i don’t know. but i will tell you what i did, and maybe that will give you hope. or ideas. or whatever it takes to get through the next few years, as they will seem very, very long without something to do to break up the routine of listening to people hating on your fat. fat you didn’t choose, and fat that does no one any harm, but fat that is irrationally hated anyway. here’s what i did, after i attempted suicide and failed: i got weird.

    you heard me: weird. i did a lot of damage to by body trying to kill it, and i don’t recommend doing it to yourself. but after i realized i had been willing to die, i thought – why wasn’t i willing to live first? because there were all kinds of crazy things i’d been wanting to do, but i didn’t do them because i thought people might talk, or call me names, or say hurtful shit about me. but people who would do that stuff would do it anyway, and you can’t have any fun at all when you’re dead. so i thought, i’m not going to die – instead, i’m just going to do whatever i want. and what i wanted to do wasn’t really all that shocking, but i had lost my fear. i wasn’t afraid to be disapproved of. and that felt very, very freeing.

    so if i felt like wearing a crazy-colored scarf wrapped around my hair for fashion, i did. i bought new tights and ripped them on purpose before wearing them. i shaved part of my hair off and dyed the rest pink with kool-aid and vinegar. i hated my backpack that looked like everyone else’s did, so i found a tie-dyed fabric and sewed patches all over it. i took a plain camp shirt and embroidered flags from fifty other countries all over it and started reading the world news for things to get irritated about that weren’t me, or my situation. i talked about politics instead of my own life. i went barefoot through school until i got in trouble for it. i made friends with the other kids in school that were outsiders like me and took my lunch with me to a remote hallway to eat so nobody would have a chance to say anything to me one way or the other about what i ate. i used books for company. i drank tea instead of sodas and kept a thermos in my locker for refills. i carried a container of bubbles and blew them in the hallways, and went outside for ‘bubble breaks’ – like smoking, with the bad kids, but more fun.

    i colored everything brightly, sang way too loudly (and in the hallways), i sparkled with glitter and laughter and made fun of everything and everybody that was obnoxious, including myself. i pretended like i didn’t care what people thought of me – at first. and as i got used to being the brand of weird i wanted to be, i realized that i really *didn’t* care what other people thought of me. that knowing my own mind was something the trendies were putting off as they listened to commercials tell them what to buy and how to be. and it didn’t make *every*thing better, or easier. but it gave me something to do until i *could* get out on my own and do my own thing, and get the hell out of school.

    that’s what got me through.

    i don’t know what will work for you.

    i hope you keep reading here, because these women are awesome. they were just like you, and so are many of the people who commented here. they made it to the other side, and things got better – way better – than their (or my) 13 year old selves could have imagined. it’s possible. don’t lose hope. it’s possible for you, too.

    and write back. we care, and we want to know you’re okay.

  124. To the letter writer:

    The fact that you can go online and find communities like this means that you are definitely not alone, no matter how lonely you feel. You need to be careful where you go on the internet and how you give out personal info, of course, because it’s important that you stay safe. But your instinct to search for other people like you is very good and very encouraging. It can be a good reminder that you are not the only one who feels like this.

    Sometimes when I am really down on myself for something, I think of all the other people out there who are also upset about the same thing. It’s not easy for me to be compassionate towards myself sometimes, especially if I’m thinking about something other people don’t respect, but I can feel compassion for the other people who are suffering something similar. If you pray, it can help to pray for others. Or just simply send other people in your situation kind wishes and gentle thoughts. Then you might start to feel that same kindness towards yourself, and that’s important :)

    Much love and many kind thoughts,
    Kristen

  125. You know, this is more of a question than advice, but .. .
    As everyone has said, 13 sucks for everyone and it gets better, and it’s important for 13 year olds to know this. But reading this thread really made me wonder: does it have to be this way? Yes, the body and hormone changes make us crazy, but really, there *must* be some way we can create a world where a whole chunk of life doesn’t suck for 99% of the population. How did it get to be normal for kids – the most vulnerable – to have to put up with shit we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies? I want to have kids very badly, but getting them through these years scares the crap out of me.

  126. Hello young friend,

    I hope you read all 125 posts here and take all of the love, strength, compassion, care and all around good vibrations coming your way and store it deep down where it hurts the most. I even think you should print all of these out, and when the tears come, read these posts to yourself.

    I for one, am very proud of you for speaking up and telling us how bad you are hurting. Like many previous other posters have said, you MUST continue to talk. At 13-14 years old, it can be hard to find someone who you will feel like will listen, REALLY listen to what you are saying, but you MUST find support for yourself. Your mother may not be able to understand what is going on with you, but if she cares about her child, and I think she does, she will help you find the care that you need.

    Believe me when I tell you, the world would be a far worse place without you in it. There maybe thousands of girls just like you who are reading your post and are being inspired to seek help from the comments here, all because you had the courage to tell all of us how much pain you are in. See what an incredible thing you have accomplished!

    My young friend, you are more valuable to this world than you will ever know. Hang on, stay brave and yell as loud as you can, to your parents, teachers, councelors, doctors, pastors, friend’s parents, family members– everyone you can–that you are in pain. Someone will heed your calls and will help. I promise.

  127. @it:

    I am not a parent but I am a primitivist, and I can very clearly imagine a world where things aren’t so terrible for 13 year olds.

    It would be a world where the business of life would be being tangibly useful in your community. Children would be raised at the side the adult members and taught from their earliest days to create, and husband, and steward (all in a gender-free sense) instead of being warehoused and given busy work because they would be in the way at their parent’s jobs (which also consist mainly of busy work).

    There would be a strength of community so that parents (and especially mothers) would never feel like their child is their special burden which must be shouldered alone, and a child would never have to feel that because mom and dad don’t understand no adult could possibly understand them.

    And when puberty rears its crazy-making head the community would gently steer the teenagers through the morass, and gently swat them down when they break social mores. Then, when it has passed, there would be a ceremony to welcome the teenagers into adulthood, and to celebrate their journey and the ways that their strength and skills and wisdom will benefit the entire community.

    This is pretty off-topic, being a fairy tale and all, but it’s one of my favorites . . .

  128. But reading this thread really made me wonder: does it have to be this way?

    No. Studies (along with my personal experience) indicate that teachers who respect their students and insist on kids respecting each other can make a difference, and there are system-wide strategies that look to be effective as well. I read a bunch of books on bullying and can’t remember where I picked that up, but it might have been in Barbara Coloroso’s. Our culture basically allows kids to be treated poorly and without respect and kids pick up that attidue; but when people insist on kids respecting each other, kids are capable of it.

    But I still homeschool, because places like that are really rare, unfortunately.

  129. Dear 13-year-old girl, I went through pretty much the same thing you went through, even though I was a bit older than you are now. Yes, I weighted approximately the same you do now at about the same height, and I spent two years at 16 and 17 feeling left out of everything, like I didn’t fit in. And of course, I was convinced that no boy would ever, ever love me as I am. And I did feel suicidal.

    But guess what? I didn’t commit suicide. And I did get a boyfriend (well, more than one, but that’s another story for another time). I am not thinner than I was then and certainly not any taller. High school is not an easy period to go through (yeah, boys can be dumb sometimes and tend to not let you know that they like you, just because you might not look like a model).

    However, hang in there. Like yourself first without trying to change your body at all costs. Do get some nice clothes that fit you well and look good on you (yeah, it does exist for fat girls like us!). If your mum insists on your losing weight first before buying you cool new clothes, tell her that it’s now you want to look good, not a whenever moment that might come someday but who knows when?

    Finally, I suggest you read Lizzie’s blog (Diary of a Fat Teenager ). She’s older than you (just finished high school), but I’m sure she can inspire you to live your life as fully as you can now.

    Lots of hugs and love — I hope you will read this and the others’ comments. You’re not alone.

  130. I would like to add, living is a really good revenge on all the people who treated you like crap. Living and enjoying it doubly so. I think back on all the people who seemed to hate me, and then all the fun stuff I did, and I imagine their heads exploding if they ever found out.

    Er, I’d better stop now, all of my “it gets better” anecdota is not PG rated. *cough* I will say, I was the equivalent of a UK size 20 at the time, and I never had trouble finding someone…er, something, fun to do.

  131. @It

    bellacoker has it pretty close. I dislike the idea of doing away with our system of formal schooling altogether, because there is value in the classroom learning model vs. the apprenticeship model, a great deal of which has to do with social leveling in the sense that you’re not trapped doing what your parents or your next-door neighbor do. But our current system of trapping a whole bunch of hormonal beings together and simultaneously telling them that they must be as responsible as adults but cannot be trusted more than children is highly artifical and only makes for general craziness as people going through a confusing time of life try to cope with the mixed messages they’re getting from all sides.

    The solution is something of a fairy tale: We all, at every level of society, have to treat adolescents as if they are responsible and trustworthy. I hesitate to say “like adults” because our current conception of that no longer makes allowances for the inexperience of a 14/15/16-year old adult. But the mental ability is there, even if the judgement is lacking — in the same way that a 20 year old makes mistakes a 40 year old doesn’t usually.

    In the meantime… the people I know who survived adolescence reasonably unscarred (don’t think anyone gets out wholly unscarred) all had several people around them who believed they could be treated as young adults. That generally manifests in offers of help, but stepping back if told it’s handled; in offers of advice, but waiting to be asked for it; in trusting their word; in never answering a question with “you’re not old enough” (old enough to ask is old enough to be answered); in not preventing falls but standing by with a hand up and a bandage if need be. All of which can be provided on an individual basis without waiting for the social revolution.

  132. I love you. Right now, it’s thundering and I’m crying because my heart is full of love for you. I don’ know if it hels or not, but there we are.

    A book recommendation for you: “Hello Cruel World 101 alternatives to suicide for freaks, teens and other outlaws ” by Kate Bornstein, It’s an awesome, funny, book that rocks my socks. Her website is awesome too and has some good content: http://www.hellocruelworld.net/

  133. LS & Bellacoker – That’s about my thinking too. I don’t see homeschooling in my future, but I’ll have to work extra hard to make sure their school environment is not toxic, let them know humiliation is never acceptable, from either end, give them outlets outside school and expose them to other competent adults who treat them . .. well, like they’re people. How crazy that that’s a radical idea.

  134. Dear 13-year-old,
    I’m so sorry. Adolescence in our society sucks. One metric fuckton of suck is the baseline, and you can double that for each unusual thing about you.

    I don’t know what else I can add, but I second what Rebecca said way up there – find your talents and interests and passions. Take all the energy you’d waste on trying to be thin, or trying to please cruel people, and pour it into something you do love. And be kind to yourself.

  135. It makes me so sad to read your letter and to be able to relate to it so much and to read so many similar stories. But everyone is right–it does get better. And not a decade later, it can better now. 13 was my worst year and I remember feeling desperately sad and lonely. But it did get better. Not all the time and not without a lot of work but it did. I didn’t get thinner but I did find things other than my body to take pride in. I’m no slouch in the academics, I tried acting, I discovered I could deliver a mean speech, and I can make people laugh. I realized that my body is a part of me but not the whole of me.

    And I want to reiterate what everyone else said–talk to someone. Your mum, a counselor, a friend. Us. And Diary of a Fat Teenager which someone linked upthread ROCKS.

  136. Dear 13,

    In the future when you find out what happened to the thin, popular girls, you will feel blessed that you weren’t one of them. I understand you’re dealing with alot, but the worst thing you can do is justify the bullies behaviour by taking your own life.

    Trust me, you’ll look back on this and wonder why you were so upset. There is alot more pressure that comes with being the one who fits in than you would realize. You have to always be on top of everything, trends, cool TV shows, cool bands. If you fail at even one of those things, you could be demoted from being cool.

    There also is the constant in clique fighting. A great example of this was in the cartoon Daria. They always showed Daria’s sister Quinn, fighting with Sandy for who would be the leader of the clique. This went on everyday with them. There was also alot of in clique backstabbing too. It helps you realize that being hooked on being popular, is more of a problem than being not accepted.

    You should talk to someone. I’m not sure if the other posters here would agree this is a good suggestion. I was very depressed myself as a teenager. I would say see a psychatrist, maybe he could give you an anti-depressant. I think you might be too young to take that kind of medicine.

    At the very least if you see a psychologist or psychatrist, they will be able to help you put your problem in perspective. Help you realize while right now things seem to be really bad, once you get out of school things will be better. You won’t be seeing the same people day in and day out, and it might seem strange that people aren’t bullying you, because they have places to go and things to do. They also don’t know you, or have a motive based on clique popularity to hurt you.

    The majority of people don’t look back on their teenage years fondly. Most of those that do, are the ones who appear to behave as if they never left high school. They live the rest of their lives, trying to remain popular with everyone. You can’t please everyone. It’s a waste of a life, to spend it on worrying about what others might think.

    The best thing you can do is try the best you can to make it through school. Try your best to ignore the bullies, because what they say doesn’t have anything to do with you. If you weren’t there, they’d find another person to pick on. It’s not about you as a person, it’s they want someone they can prey on. If you let them know you won’t react to them anymore, they’ll get bored and leave you alone.

    Just remember once you are out of high school, you’ll never have to go back and have to deal with that again. People might say some things to you outside of high school, but unlike high school most people will agree they’re just being jerks. You’re not alone, the size acceptance movement will be here to support you.

  137. Jackie – I don’t mean to derail the thread, and I applaud nearly everything you’re saying, but I can’t agree with “If you let them know you won’t react to them anymore, they’ll get bored and leave you alone.”
    This strategy has probably worked for some people, but it never worked for me and our 13-year-old correspondent may already have tried it and found it didn’t help. There’s no magic formula to stop bullying, so this suggestion is overoptimistic and a little too close to blaming the victim.

    Hope this comment isn’t too snotty – I just felt I had to point that out.

  138. Hey Kate, FJ and SM — You mentioned that her letter was sitting in moderation for awhile. I’m curious whether you let her know that this thread existed, since it’s been a few weeks? (If you considered that and decided against it, obviously I don’t mean to question your authoritteh.)

  139. To the letter writer:

    The thing is, you don’t actually want to commit suicide, or you wouldn’t have written this letter. What you want is for the pain to stop. And you’re at the point where you think the only way for the pain to stop is to kill yourself. Your pain is not manageable at this point. You feel like you’re going to just come apart with it, and you can’t believe you still have tears left to cry.

    I ended up in the hospital a couple of years ago because I was going to kill myself over a guy. I could no longer manage or ignore my pain. And in the depths of it, when I started to make a plan of how I would do it, I blindly reached out and someone suggested to me that it WAS quite serious that I wanted to kill myself, even though I thought I was just being melodramatic, and I needed to get some help. So I went to the hospital for a day, and then they released me and I started going to therapy and taking antidepressants, which I don’t need anymore. But I did for a whole year, because I just needed the pain to be at a level where I could deal with it, and then deal with the other stuff at the same time.

    Because you reached out here, by writing this letter, I am telling you that your pain IS serious, it IS real, you’re NOT being melodramatic, and I strongly urge you to reach out for help from whomever you trust (and I’m the last person to suggest going to your parents if they’re not trustworthy. Go to a teacher or counselor if you want.) DON’T go to them asking how to lose weight. Go to them and tell them you’re thinking about killing yourself, and get yourself treatment for depression. That’s the first thing you have to do. Just that bit. Everything else can come after that. Your weight is so insignificant compared to this other thing that has to be dealt with first.

    I wish I could give you a huge hug right now, you dear girl.

  140. The funny thing is I actually believed myself to have read the whole thread, LOL. I guess that comment was so comparatively short that my eyes bounced right over it.

  141. I can’t agree with “If you let them know you won’t react to them anymore, they’ll get bored and leave you alone.”
    This strategy has probably worked for some people, but it never worked for me.

    I agree. I think that strategy only works if there are two extra factors involved – the child being targeted can convince themselves they really DON’T care (pretending doesn’t work), and the child being targeted needs to be willing to defend themselves if it comes to it. Because many bullies will escalate if they’re ignored – they’ll move from insults to pushing the kid around, or from pushing to punching, for instance.

    A person who knowns in their heart of hearts that they won’t fight back is probably wise not to succeed at the “ignore them” advice, because bullies who feel ignored can get angry and then meaner.

    Bullies only target people they think are weaker than they are – it’s ridiculous to expect most children to defend themselves against bullies because the playing field is skewed horribly from the git go. The only time the target can deal with the bully alone is if the bully is stupid enough to target someone with more resources than they realized, or if the person targeted finds better resources (which is what movies like My Bodyguard and The Karate Kid make use of – it’s a lot easier to “find the strength in your heart” when you have someone who believes in you; supportive people, even if they can’t be there to physically defend someone from a bully, are still a resource).

  142. The “don’t react” advice worked for me, actually, but never worked for my brother. The two criteria I suggest as making the difference were essentially the differences between the two of us when we tried to act on that advice. Even if I knew I’d never win, I kind of had the attitude, “Well, he may beat me up, but I can at least make sure he’ll be hurting,” while my brother could never see it that way.

    Plus if a former friend started bullying me, I was in trouble, because it took a LONG time of abuse before I was willing to hurt a friend. I didn’t have that, “I may lose, but I’ll hurt back” thing going and that made a huge difference in my ability to handle the bully.

  143. Being 13 sucks, there’s no way around it. It’s a trial by fire. The big kids get picked on by the athletic kids, the athletic kids are torn apart by the popular kids, the popular kids (when they’re not picking on the unpopular kids) oh so subtly rip each other to shreds. It’s universal. Everyone’s miserable, and everyone’s turning on each other because of it.

    I’d hated school so much that I’d launched myself down a staircase, trying to break my leg to avoid going. And it’s funny, you think everyone else is happier or more well-adjusted than you are, but they really aren’t- at least the bullies aren’t. It was a shock to our community when the most popular girl in school, a girl who was gorgeous and thin and had loads of friends (and who also actively made life hell for those of us who were not those things), blew herself away with a gun. It turned out she’d had a history of sexual abuse.

    I remember feeling the way you are. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Being 13 sucks. However, things do get better from there. Perhaps not too much in high school, but you’re still getting out of that stage. You’ll graduate, and find that the world isn’t quite as obnoxious as junior high (it has its moments, but still;). You’ll get friends and lovers, and you’ll discover more about yourself- more of how awesome you are. You will get through this- just don’t be afraid to ask for help. Tell your mom how you feel- she’ll understand. She was 13 once too:) Also, be as kind to everyone as possible, even if they don’t seem to deserve or need it. Sometimes it makes all the difference.

    And hon, one day when you’re an adult, you will look at pictures of yourself at this age. You will see how beautiful you were and wonder why you didn’t see it then. That is also universal. Try to see and enjoy that beauty now, even if the rest of the class is pretending they don’t.

  144. Dear letter writer,

    I’ll echo what everyone else in this fantastic community has said.

    Being 13 is absolutely heinous, no doubt about it. First, you need to talk to someone you trust about how you’re really feeling because letting things like that fester won’t help you move forward and heal.

    From there, I can only say it does get better in that you’ll learn who you are. When I was your age, I was well on my way to a full-blown eating disorder, and spent a lot of years loathing myself.

    Now that I’m on the other side of that situation, I can only look back on miserable I was and vow never to be there again (especially when those little nasty voices start in the back of my head). I am who I am and you know what, that’s a pretty OK person.

    And I now notice that a lot of people much smaller than me think they’re fat and hate themselves. I listen to people who are ashamed to admit they wear a size 10 while I’ll proudly shout that I wear a size 20.

    I guess my roundabout point here is that all those people that you think are so slim and happy and perfect are probably feeling exactly the same way YOU feel about yourself right now.

    Big hugs.

  145. 13 sucked. And I let other people tell me that 14 would suck, and then I beleived that since 14 sucked as much as people said, then 15 would suck. Of course, it did. People told me “wow, if you think 15 sucks, wait til you hit 16 because the suckitude just gets exponential”. And of course, it did.

    Then I had a nervous breakdown at 17, so that sucked. And the suckitude spilled over into 18, which people told me would also suck. And so on, and so forth, until I was 25 years old and woke up and realised,

    HEY! PEOPLE ARE STUPID! WHY AM I LISTENING TO STUPID PEOPLE!?

    I know I’m not stupid, so I started listening to myself. No, not the voice that says “you’re dumb you’re ugly why don’t you look like other people” because THAT IS NOT YOUR VOICE. That is a lirttle goblin voice that is fed by stupid people. Grab ahold of that little goblin mofo voice and send it through the wood chipper. It may take repeated shreddings. Kill the little goblin voice dead. Because you are so very much stronger than it is.

    This is a part of growing up, by the way, learning to support yourself emotionally. You made a very, very, very big step by reaching out to this community.

  146. I agree. I think that strategy only works if there are two extra factors involved – the child being targeted can convince themselves they really DON’T care (pretending doesn’t work), and the child being targeted needs to be willing to defend themselves if it comes to it.

    Or, if the bully really does not have his/her heart in bullying and is not very good at it and is more or less doing it for show and not because they are truly sadistic. Some of them will give up if they turn out not to have the easy target they thought they had. But like you said, some will just take this as more of a challenge and work harder for a reaction.

  147. TO ________:

    You are worth being loved. I’m sure your family loves you very much. Look at pictures of yourself smiling as a baby. If you are not that happy now, remember that you once were and your younger self would want you to be happy now. You can harness this happiness. Life is full of ups and downs and getting up out of bed sometimes can take up a lot of energy. Recognize that feeling down is just a part of life. But, man does it HURT. It does.

    I think that no matter whether you are 13 or not, you can get blindsided by life. At age 13 or just before 13 is when people start realizing how cruel the world is, yet they are ill-prepared to handle it. No one is perfect and perfect does not exist.

    I found that reading Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman to be helpful for me (and it was recommended by a psychologist). I like the book because it has tests, practical steps and is not overly emotional. If anyone can recommend a good book about “self esteem,” I’m all ears.

    Looking at the fatshionista site is also liberating.

    Also I would try to work on your concerns in baby steps. I’m not sure if home bothers you more or school bothers you more but work on coping with the circumstances that bother you more. You can’t go part-time to school, of course, but maybe you could suggest going to another school? You can’t leave your home but maybe you could sleep over a relative’s house once in awhile? Consider small baby steps to change your routine, your scenery and your activities to see if that alleviates some of your dread.

    If there’s anything that you do think YOU’D like to do to better your situation, maybe you can share it with us and we can offer solutions. I think putting pressure on yourself to exercise is not a good idea and many “healthy” people don’t exercise every day and some of them don’t exercise at all.

    Oh, and dating guys in high school is much more fulfilling in the fantasy than in the reality–for most highschoolers.

    Please talk to a therapist. Always know that you can change therapists if you don’t like yours. It might require you speaking to your parents to get a therapist, I realize.

    If you cannot get a therapist, keep posting online and also, go to http://www.suicidehotlines.com/.

    I am PROUD of you for commenting on kateharding.net. That shows a lot of strength. You rock and don’t forget that!

  148. I’m not presuming to speak for everyone, of course, but in my case a ‘fuck you’ attitude went a long way toward making me angry about the way I was treated instead of simply hurt by it. It doesn’t work for everybody, but it did for me.

  149. Dear anon,

    (I want to say “oh, baby” but I don’t know how you feel about strangers calling you pet names!)

    I send you e-hugs.

    It might help to know that you would probably get called names no matter what. It’s not the fact that you’re fat, it’s the fact that other kids need someone to feel better than. You are not the problem.

    I agree with Corrina who says: Please talk to a therapist. Always know that you can change therapists if you don’t like yours. Those are two important things to know: first, seeing a therapist is okay for you to do; it doesn’t mean that you’re weak, or that something is wrong with you. It just means that you need some help in figuring out solutions to your problems. And second, if you go to a therapist and she or he makes you feel worse about yourself, you don’t have to put up with it. Their job is to make you feel more healthy and more powerful, not less, and if they’re not doing their job, you don’t need to give them business. Just because you’re a kid doesn’t mean you have to take crap from people, especially people whose only authority over you is that your parents are paying them.

    If you feel bad about sitting at the computer all the time, do other things! Do crafts, write poetry, learn to dance or swim or play the piano or knit. That won’t make you thin, but it will make you healthier and happier, which is the really important thing. They don’t need to be active, exercise-y things, unless that’s what you enjoy doing; just finding things you like to do and/or are good at, things that you want to live for, is important. Also, hobbies of any kind will help you meet people who have things in common with you, and who are interested in YOU, not in what they think you ought to do about your weight.

    Online friends count too. If you feel most comfortable talking to people on the internet, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you stay safe and healthy.

    I wish I had better words for you. I have a friend who was only a little older than you when she developed an eating disorder; I watched it happen. She’s okay now, but it hurt her so much, far worse than being fat ever could. I don’t want you to go through that too.

    I hope you come back to this site, read what everybody has to say, keep reading and remember that it will be okay. You don’t have to be this unhappy all your life.

  150. Hey there, letter writer,

    Big, big ditto to what everyone above has said, especially the people who said that if it wasn’t one thing kids get picked on for, it’s something else. I also remember my mum telling me that it will pass and it’s best to ignore the bullies until they grow up – I ignored her because, like all teenagers, I figured that she didn’t have a clue what it was like to be a 13 year old :) Turned out though that she was right…

    For me it wasn’t about my weight until I got to college. In high school, it was because I was smart (the best ‘insult’ I ever got was “if you want a square root, root Angela” – fortunately by then I was 16 and was able to laugh at it). Or because I had braces, or because I had a bad knee (I had a habit of randomly falling down a lot!). In all seriousness, kids in school – especially early high school – can be arseholes. Most of them will grow out of it, but it doesn’t make it any easier at the time.

    My best suggestion?? Get back at them by getting to know yourself. Kids can be so busy trying to one-up each other that they forget that they too are still growing and changing. Spend some time getting to know yourself. What are your goals? Your dreams? Your interests? Think of something you’ve always wanted to try, and try it. Maybe you want to learn how to draw, or play the guitar. Set a small goal, plan and make it happen, then make a bigger one.

    Do some planning for when you come out the other side of 13. Where do you want to be in 5 years? I know at 13 that college and careers seem a long way away, but start thinking and planning now. When you’re old enough get a part time job – not only great for the pocket money, but also for the experience and responsibility. It will give you a whole new circle of people, who will judge you on your attitude to your work and the good job you do, not on your appearance.

    What sort of person would you like to be when you’re done growing?? It can be very hard to be caring or compassionate to others when you are also suffering, but some people find that it helps them to do one random act of kindness each day. Perhaps you’d like to feel more independent or capable – maybe look at starting martial arts (I’m obese as well, but as soon as my knee is strong enough I’m going straight back to karate). Think of a quality that someone else has that you admire – maybe they don’t take crap, or maybe they are always smiling, or maybe they never have a bad thing to say about anyone. Then think of a way to try to be like that, a little bit each day.

    With the name calling – and from experience this can be very, very hard – but try laughing at them. Seriously. Practice laughing in their faces. Tell them how unoriginal their insult is, or borrow some of Joy Nash’s rebuttals from the latest Fat Rant. Or – and this is harder still – just walk away and ignore them.

    Most important of all, never give up. Everyone has good and bad times in their lives, and 13 is almost universally a bad time. I promise you that it will get better – in the meantime, try to stay safe and take care of yourself.

  151. When I was 13 yo I was a size 16, I was much larger than everyone in my class, and I thought I was fat. I am now 24 yo and I am a size 22 and I don’t think I’m fat anymore. Although I still have people in my life telling me otherwise: My future mother-in-law blamed my sore feet on my weight – today in fact – and I told her that it had nothing to do with that, it was just an easy scapegoat! I never would have said that a few months ago, it was hard to stand up for myself but it feels pretty awesome!

    I think reading Shapely Prose is the best advice I can give, It’s certainly made my opinion of myself much better!

  152. I’ve been through all this myself, too. I would never re-live my teenage years, not for all the money in the world.

    Just a couple points to add, though:

    -You might want to be especially attentive to nutrition. For a period of time some years back, I was desperate, obsessed with my weight, and even suicidal. Through trial and error I discovered that I just needed to supplement my body’s low zinc levels for a while. A daily zinc tablet took me from wanting to die to dying to live. People suffering from body-image disorders and anorexia commonly have low zinc levels.

    -If you talk to someone in person about your concerns, try to make it a psychologist, not a psychiatrist (if the UK is like N. America, the latter have powers to prescribe drugs, and you don’t want to get caught in that trap).

    -If you feel that your depression may go beyond this one issue and have a biological component, you’re very lucky to be living in the UK where homoeopathic treatment is widely available. A good homoeopath helped me out of a deep episode of clinical depression which hadn’t been very responsive to the ‘gold standard’ herbal remedies for depression.

  153. Moderators (and I so want to call you the Mod Squad), do you know if 13 has been back to read this thread? I don’ t know if you can track IPs to page views, or if you have her email address or what have you, but it would be great to hear if she’s feeling any better or if there’s anything else we can all do.

  154. I don’t know if this has been said yet, and I just don’t have the energy to wade through more than 160 responses, so I’ll chip in just in case.

    Honey, if your mom hasn’t taken you to the doctor, she needs to do so. There are several conditions that need to be ruled out. First is hypothyroidism. Too little thyroid leads to not only weight gain, but fatigue and depression as well. I was hypothyroid for years before I actually was treated for it.

    You need to be checked for anemia. Leads to fatigue, which pushes carb cravings and lack of exercise, as well as, yes, depression. You didn’t mention if you are menstruating yet or not, but anemia is quite common in girls in their first years of puberty.

    You should also be checked for insulin resistance. Those who are insulin resistant produce much less energy in their cells than those who are not insulin resistant, even well before they become diabetic. Hence, weight gain, especially around the belly.

    If all of these things are negative, then you should still be seen for depression. Depression is an insidious illness (and it is definitely an illness, it’s not just something you can will away), and it needs to be treated. Take it from someone old enough to be your grandmother who suffered from depression for years (and still does on occasion). Don’t ignore depression. You have a wonderful long life ahead of you. Don’t let depression rob you of that. I lost a good portion of the first 30 years of my life to that illness. Don’t let that happen to you!

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