Please educate your kids…….

I was watching my favorite guilty pleasure show tonight, “Jerseylicious” tonight and the episode reminded me of a post I had written back in august of 2009.

Tonight’s episode was all about the salon having a showcase for plus-size women.  One of the make-up artists is a larger woman and she always looks great and dresses well.  At the end of the show, after this great event for the women, she got really emotional talking about her childhood and growing up as a chubby kid and the teasing she faced.

It really made me sad.  I know all too well what it is like to go through school as the fat kid and it was no fun.  I felt so bad for her and remembered how mean kids can be.  I went back and found the old Facebook note and decided to use it in this blog.

I was only about nine months into my journey at the time it was written.

I hope we can all take it to heart and do our part to end the way kids treat each other.

August 2009

When we send our kids off to school this week for a new year, I ask all parents to educate them on an issue that is very close to my heart.  We all try to teach our kids about being good friends, and about not discriminating against other kids due to their race, color, religious beliefs, or physical handicap.

Schools even offer programs now about bullying and the effects of it, but one thing that is never mentioned is discriminating against the obese.  I know firsthand how this feels, and as I sit here, still with another 50 pounds to lose, BUT 90 pounds smaller and looking more like a “normal” person, it saddens me to see the difference in how people in general treat me and look at me after the first 90 pounds is gone.

There is such a misconception that people who are overweight are lazy or are always that way due to their own failures.  There is so much discrimination in social settings, professional settings, etc., and yet people who may LOOK healthy on the outside, but have addictions to drugs, alcohol, sex, or those who don’t have an addiction, but who have a genetic disorder that makes them different in some way are never treated that way.  (At least not as often.)

I will absolutely admit that there are people with major food issues who eat for emotional reasons; and I am one of them; just like so many I know grab a cigarette or a drink, or gamble, or go to a strip club.  Unfortunately, the people who turn to food actually show it on the outside.  Any overindulgence is bad for you and wrong and there is no way to say which is worse and so therefore none of these should be treated any differently in my opinion.

Just like the person who drinks or smokes too much will permanently damage the liver and lungs, a person who diets perpetually will destroy their metabolism and many will get to the point where no diet will get them beyond a certain weight.  This is well documented in many a medical journal.  Some people are genetically prone to obesity just like some are prone to other physical ailments.  Now eating Big Macs and Oreos does NOT help the problem, but there does come a point where so much damage is done that no matter how hard you diet, you will never lose beyond a certain weight on your own.

I know this because prior to my gastric bypass, I could always lose about 30-50 pounds on Weight Watchers, Atkins, NutriSystem, etc., but it always came back.

I was the person who ruined my metabolism with all of the crazy diets for so long in an effort to fit in and be accepted and normal.  I grew up a chubby kid.  I absolutely know how it feels to go to school and have no one pick you for the kickball team at recess, and what it felt like to DREAD the physical fitness tests.

Kids are so cruel, and I am almost 40 years old and can still remember things that were said to me in 2nd and 3rd grade.  There is nothing worse than going through school watching all of your thin friends get to do things you will never do.  It makes young girls go on crazy diets that really mess up our bodies.

I cannot stress the importance of teaching healthy eating habits at a young age and also in teaching tolerance and acceptance of others no matter what they weigh.  The things I am learning now about nutrition from both my surgeon and nutritionist, I wish I had known as a child.  I would not wish the low self-esteem and negative feelings I felt as the fat kid, on my worst enemy.  It is a sad feeling to say the least.

Now my kids are learning young to choose fruit over cookies and water over soda.  We do not keep Twinkies and junk in our house anymore unless it is  a special occasion.  Sweets and junk are a rare treat and not the norm.  Soda is consumed when it is leftover from a party, and it is usually diet soda.  I never want my boys to feel what I felt as a child.

I was really blessed in school with some good true friends who didn’t care what I looked like, but there were also some very cruel people.  My hope is that these people teach their kids not to judge others the way they did in their younger years.

All of my three boys are a healthy weight, and have been taught from birth to never judge people for any reason, and I think I was so adamant about that lesson due to my own experiences.  My husband and I have a very diverse set of friends who are tall, short, skinny, heavy, wealthy, poor, Christians, non-Christians, gay, straight, black, white, very attractive, very average, etc. etc. and they are all just as special to us as the other.

This surgery has been such a blessing, and I praise God daily that I was able to have it done and improve my health.  And there is absolutely no difference in me on the inside, just less of me now on the outside.  So many people missed out on getting to know me because they let the outer shell push them away from the girl inside who has a lot to offer this world!

It is now my mission to educate people on the realities of weight loss surgery and how it isn’t a cop-out or a sign of failure any more than treatment of any other illness.  And I want people to know that just because you see a person walking down the street who is obese, do not assume that person is just lazy and doesn’t care about how they look.  Just like you wouldn’t look at a skinny person and assume they are bulemic.

If we all learned to think before we judge and to TRULY not judge a book by its cover, then we may all end up with a lot more really amazing connections in life.  And for any of my friends battling any type of addiction or illness, I truly pray that you find whatever you need to kick yours, the way God gave me weight loss surgery to kick mine!  I have a long way to go before I am at a healthy BMI and where I want to be, but this has been such an incredible journey so far that has taught me so much about myself and my friends and family.

So please let your kids know it is really okay to be friends with the fat kid at school.  They may turn out to be the best friend they will ever have and one that lasts a lifetime!  And make sure they know that the fat kid has feelings too, and things we say to kids can and DO last a lifetime.


About Erin Akey

I am a formerly morbidly obese wife, mother, Christian, author, speaker, water fitness instructor, nutritionist, anti-obesity advocate, and Emerald Ambassador with Plexus Worldwide. I am passionate about helping people fight the disease of obesity and also preventing and addressing obesity in children. I believe we have so many amazing tools available to treat this disease and we all need to take advantage of the ones we feel are right for us. I am also passionate about women taking the time to care for their needs. We live in a world where so many of us spend all of our time taking care of others that we neglect ourselves. I am all about making God the center of everything and letting His will take control of our lives and watching the beautiful blessings come from that release of power! Live, Laugh, and LOVE every day! Be grateful and be humble and watch the world around you change!
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