When I was a child, I grew fast and matured much more quickly than my peers. I was taller, started my period much earlier, developed at a younger age and looked much older than I actually was. By the time I was 11, I wore a size 36B bra…which is a lot bigger than I wear today! I was 5′ 5″ tall in the 5th grade. I’m 5′ 4″ now. All of this was extremely embarrassing to me. I felt like a giant in the land of little people, relating strongly to Gulliver. The boys thought it was funny that I could beat them up with one hand tied behind my back. They used to surround me and taunt me endlessly. I can remember being called fat as early as age 7. I was ashamed of my body, of my height and my weight and of the fact that I was bigger than my classmates in every way . O.K. Maybe it was a little fun to be 13 and to have people asking me what year of college I was in, but I still felt like a giant. Heck, even my feet were bigger. Much bigger. I hated having to buy new shoes. Most girls relish this experience, but it was always a nightmare for me because my feet were so huge. I wore a size 8-1/2 shoe by the time I was 11 years old. I still wear that size today. My feet are bigger than most of my friends and they are still a source of embarrassment to me. But at age 11, when my friends were wearing teeny-tiny little sized shoes that looked cute and dainty and adorable, I felt like a monster. For a lot of reasons. But the size of my feet definitely didn’t help. One of the things that made shoe shopping so horrid was that my parents always took us to Neimeyers’s in Aurora for our shoes. And for some reason, Mr. Neimeyer thought it was extremely humorous that I had monster-sized feet. He poked fun at me mercilessly. He also found an endless source of humor in the fact that my calves and ankles were gigantic. I couldn’t wear the cute boots that I longed to wear because they were all too tight. They wouldn’t zip. So, not only did I require a huge size, I wasn’t able to zip up those ever-so-cool boots, and I could only wear old lady shoes because of the circumference of my ankles and the length of my foot. The whole experience was humiliating since Mr. Neimeyer loved teasing me about my clod-hopper feet and overall giganticness. I invariably turned a million shades of red every time I walked into his store. But while you can suck in your stomach, you’re pretty much stuck with your shoe size, unless you love pain and want to cripple yourself. Try as I might to suck them in, they remained monstrous. My calves were large and muscular. I was huge. And I was so ashamed. I was ashamed of myself anyway; my unacceptable foot, ankle and calf size was just another thing to add to my list of things to be ashamed of. I was heavier than most girls my age, which was just icing on the cake of being taller and more mature looking. I struggled with my weight from an early age. My parents taunted me about how heavy I was. But my father picked on my mother about her weight too, so she was just passing it down to me. I can’t count the times he would tell her that everything would be all right if ONLY she would lose some weight. The message wasn’t lost on me. I was perpetually ashamed of my size. I wanted to be invisible. I remember being completely embarrassed when it came time to get fitted for my band uniform in high school. I tried on the largest size of pants that were available and they were so tight, I could barely button them (they were a juniors size 15) much less move in them. I was horrified. I felt like a monster. Today, at a hair under 5′ 4″ and 102 lbs., I still feel very tall and very big. I want to lose a little more. Get a little further away from being overweight. And I continue to hate my big feet. But at this weight, my calves are finally small enough to allow me to wear those cute boots I have always loved. (Take that, Mr. Neimeyer!) The message I received as a child still burns in my soul and rings in my ears. Smaller is better. The world, everything, would be O.K. if only I would lose weight. I should be ashamed for being big…for having big feet or a big body. Being big makes you a target for ridicule. It makes you a joke. Less than human. Being big is not acceptable. This resonates so deeply within me, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to exorcise it. I’m in outpatient counseling for an eating disorder. It rules my life. Being thin is pretty much all I care about. As I said, I desire to lose more weight, although I’m having a hard time of it, even though I’m starving myself. Sometimes, I can barely move, I’m so exhausted and out of energy. No fuel. I’m wearing a size 0…but I wish I wore a size 00. Smaller is better. Overweight is shameful. Tiny is good. Even if I’m killing myself to get there and stay there. Those messages…they never stop playing. They never stop nagging. They never stop making me feel unacceptable. I’m still trying to be invisible. Still burning with embarrassment because of the size of my body, my feet, my nose, my butt. I still feel the hot shame of being the brunt of everyone’s jokes because I’m so big. I don’t know if there is a point at which I would be tiny enough. I kind of doubt it. Self-acceptance is a pipe dream. I can’t imagine ever achieving it. I can’t imagine ever feeling good about myself. Once a bigfoot, always a bigfoot. And I think that means I’m unacceptable…forever. No matter how tiny I become.