I had this childhood friend who was much older than I. She was kind, and funny, and loving, and a great big sister to her three sisters, and a good friend to me although I was just a kid.
My friend was quite a big girl and had always been so when she decided to lose weight at 17 years old it appeared that she was taking her health and diet into her own hands. It seemed like a good thing I guess.
But she didn’t stop.
I ate regularly with her family, and I saw her become very particular about what she put into her mouth and after about a year, not just what, but also how much, and she was incredibly thin with excess skin that I remember she hated.
I didn’t think too much about it though. She was my friend who was overweight and then she was not. She then fell pregnant and then I moved away and we lost touch.
I hadn’t thought about this old friend of mine for quite a while until Facebook. Her weight has now regulated and she’s just a normal person, or so I thought.
I have just realised that she’s not normal at all. She’s remarkable.
I put a call out for case studies recently for a story I’m writing about bullying and we got in touch with each other again because her 13 year old son had been severely bullied because of his weight.
He was a rugby playing lad, a forward, and those forwards are known to be stocky. When his peers began to ridicule him and make up songs about him, this fun loving, light hearted boy disappeared, and someone else was left in his place.
At first they didn’t notice the food thing that much. They just thought he wanted to get fitter for the upcoming season, but after a time it became apparent, her boy was starving himself.
By the time they got him to rehab the staff told her her son – her William – was dying.
My article is about bullying and the bystander effect and I’m not going to write about that here today, but I wanted to get onto the page some other stuff we talked about.
She told me that she had anorexia when she was 17, which she gained control of when she fell pregnant, and her research has indicated to her that eating disorders and body image issues may be hereditary.
It made my blood run cold.
I haven’t researched this at all, maybe I should before I write it here, but I’m not writing anything scientific, just how that thought makes me feel. I wanted to reiterate how vigilant I will be about the way I speak about mine and other people’s bodies in front of my children.
I’ve written before that I will endeavour to never mention my weight or my body in a negative light to my kids, and speak only positively about others, but this reinforces the idea that if there is a crazy fucked up body image gene in there handed down by yours truly then I can’t stop that.
The genes are the genes.
What I can do is instil the most positive sunshine about who they are, on the inside and the out, so that fucked up little gene doesn’t stand a goddamned chance.
My friend could never have known that external influences were going to tear her child’s walls down.
Maybe with a heads up she could have helped build a barricade, but now it’s too late.
Her William is doing ok.
Two arduous and heartbreaking years later, with months in rehab, his little light is starting to shine again and she can see that although he is not well, he is also becoming more like himself every day.
Now, she is beginning a program to help teach children resilience, and empathy. A teacher herself, she has already started in her classroom, and her program will soon run to a specially selected few at her school… then she hopes it will run everywhere.
I pray this will be the case.
Maybe one piece of good can come from nearly losing her child to bullying, and eating disorders, and she can make a difference.
I hope by the time my kids are in school resilience and empathy are taught as equally as algebra and physics, for I know which of those subjects I’ve called upon most often in my adult years.
Hint : it ain’t the ones with the numbers.
Are you aware of how you speak about yourself in front of the kids?
Do you think teaching resilience and empathy in school is important?
Let me know your thoughts, xxx
If you like what you’re seeing, stick around and have a flick through some related posts.
Want some more? Why not like my Facebook page now?
You can also subscribe via email, or follow me on Instagram and Twitter at The Holsbys to be sure you always Keep up with the Holsbys.