When I was younger I would hear stories about kids being teased because of their weight.
When I would hear those stories, I would think about how awful it was for those kids who were made fun of, but I would also wonder what made me different because, although I was a big kid, those things didn’t really happen to me.
At age nine I was best friends with the most popular girls in the fourth grade. The leader of our group was Riley Baker. Riley was beautiful, all the boys were in love with her and she had the type of personality that made you want to do whatever she said. We called ourselves the Red Sisters because of a blood oath she convinced us to take one day after school.
If Riley was the queen of the fourth grade, recess was when she held court. Everyday after we shared our goldfish crackers, sandwiches and caprisuns we would roam the playground. We felt we were too old to play on the jungle gym like the 2nd and 3rd graders but we also knew we were too young to make our way over to the softball field where the 7th and 8th graders hung out.
So we walked… waiting for something to happen. When nothing did, Riley would make something happen. Sometimes it was flirting with boys, sometimes it was lying on the grass listening to Nirvana on her Walkman. Then there were the afternoons when Riley’s claws would come out. There were two girls that she hated and both were on the chubby side. If Riley crossed paths with either of these girls, the Red Sisters would stand in silence as Riley tore into them; criticizing their clothes, their bodies, their hair and anything else she could think of. The Red Sisters never added any insults, we were actually cool with both of the chubby girls when Riley wasn’t around, but our silence spoke volumes.
These girls had it rough because if they cried it would only bring them more negative attention. On the other hand, when one of the girls got fed up and told a teacher what Riley was doing to her, it was even worse. Riley was put into detention for 3 days and gave the Red Sisters strict orders to pretend the girl didn’t exist.
I can remember feeling bad for the girls but feeling relieved that Riley was my friend. I also remember feeling confused because I knew that I was actually bigger than both of these girls who were being teased about their weight. I knew it was twisted, but I was grateful that Riley and the other girls looked past my size and still allowed me to be a Red Sister.
When Riley returned from her stint in detention, we went back to sandwiches, goldfish crackers and caprisuns followed by walks, boys and Nirvana. Riley had a new boyfriend and hadn’t harassed anyone in a while so things felt pretty normal. One day, we decided to roam a little further across the school yard and found ourselves chatting in front of a brick wall outside of the 6th graders classrooms. We were waiting for something to happen, but as usual, nothing did.
The bell rang, signaling the end of recess. We all stood up to head back to class, the other Red Sisters turned the corner and Riley, who was in front of me, abruptly turned around. Suddenly it was just the two of us standing against the brick wall.
“You need to lose weight,” she said.
I felt like she had punched me in the stomach.
“I-I… I know,” I stammered.
I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t. I wanted to tell someone, but what was the point? I wasn’t sure if I was going to have to plead for my place as a Red Sister, but before I could think of anything to say, Riley turned on her heel and headed back to class.
I stood against the brick wall, alone.
I turned around and Mrs. Arcane the 6th grade history teacher had her head poked out of her door.
“Yes, Mrs. Arcane?” I said, nervously wondering if she’d overheard what Riley said to me.
She took a deep breath “You know, with friends like that… you don’t need enemies.”
9 thoughts on “Fat Girl Flashback: Fourth Grade”
Gosh, that's really intense hun. Not sure what to say but just wanted you to know I was reading and that though we haven't met in person I'm so glad we're friends!
WOW! Kids can be so cruel! I wasnt heavier as a child, but I was in the begining of highschool, and I remember being the girl that was like the two girls in your story that just took the abuse. I want to teach my daughter that she is just as beautiful on the outside as she is on the inside, but with kids like this roaming around, I wish I could be with her 24/7 to keep whispering in her ear just how beautiful she is!
thank you for sharing!! 🙂
i got picked on for my weight as a child and it stills upsets me to this day. i worry about what my kids will be going through in the future.
I found your post couldn't be more true or honest. I confess I was the mean girl. I made fun of girls for their clothes, their hair, their make-up and it continued into high school. I was thin as a child, but due to a severe case of ADHD, I was socially awkward and picked on other kids to draw the attention away from me. In high school I was caught making fun of a girl who was pregnant. The poor girl was in the bathroom stall and I was at the sink with my friends. She came out in tears and I just stood there…looking her in the eyes. Three months later I was pregnant and my battle with weight began. The last 12 years I have been the target of judgment and sideways looks. Karma is a bitch. I tried to make amends at my 10 year reunion but that was futile. I think some things are just unforgivable. I have changed dramatically over the years, but I wonder how many of my mean comments are remembered by a girl I no longer know. The moral of my story: Mean cheerleaders sometimes get pregnant, get kicked off the squad, get fat, have three children and have to work two jobs to support their kids after their husbands leave them.
My life has settled down, I’m remarried to a wonderful man, have a great career, but most important, I have a no gossip rule in my life. I am a firm believer in “You reap what you sow.” I hope the young ladies who may read your blog remember they could be one donut or one drucken party away from becoming the girl they are making fun of.
I am also a newbie blogger. My blog address is http://lesslacie.blogspot.com/
this post brought tears to my eyes! I was never a chubby child, I was the girl who developed WAAAY to early i was 11 when i got my period for the first time by the age of 12 i was wearing a c cup bra so i was picked on for looking different…..and even though im now 25 and wear a size 7 jeans and a 34 DD bra to this day I am incredibly uncomfortable with my curves so im here to say thank you for your blog its helped me thru a lot because even smaller girls can have body image issues! <3
I read this with familiarity. I've been in a similar place. I was always the biggest girl in my class, which meant I was often a topic of discussion. I remember one day a friend of mine told me what she overheard some other classmates saying about me as they looked at the class photo, she told me and I just about died laughing, but in reality I a piece of me died inside that day. I think it would take a very strong 12 year old to hear "she said that if she were as fat as you, she would kill herself" and be ok. I didnt know how much those words would affect me. I know that the girl who said them, probably doesnt even remember my name, but I'll never forget her words. I just refuse to let them hurt me as much.
i don't know why this happens, why children are somehow taught that this is ok. i'm so sorry that it happened to you.
This happens too me at school, yes a nine and chubby fourth grader being teased about my weight
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