Being a chubby kid is cute until you are too fat to fit in to the chairs at primary school.
Most people think fat shaming only occurs when you are old enough to care about your appearance but for me it started on the playground when I was playing tag and a boy approached me saying “you really look like a potato.” This may seem like an innocent comment from a child but it set in motion years of saying no to cake at birthday parties and avoiding my nan’s gaze when she offered seconds.
I dreaded the days when everyone would want to play kiss chase because if the boys found out the potato was playing they would much rather chase a football.
While the name didn’t follow me to secondary school, the word fat did. People didn’t know me as Yasemin they knew me as the fat one. The peak of my fat shaming experience was at age 14 when I weighed 17 stone and I would be jolted into school lockers only to be reminded of my weight every single PE lesson.
Whenever I walked out in my kit, with my cycling shorts that made my legs balloon below the hem and my oversized top that hid the rolls, I could clearly hear the snickering echoing around the hall.
I didn’t even leave my shame at the school gates, it followed me home where my Turkish dad called me “tombik” which loosely translates to fatso. While this may seem cruel, it opened my eyes and made me realise my weight was a problem.
Because of this I cut everything good out of my life, switching everything food from white to brown and beginning every morning with 200 sit-ups. Gone were my lie-ins and kebabs dripping with grease, but after a while so was the muffin top.
Obviously if you’re fat shaming on purpose just to humiliate someone that is very wrong, but there is no harm in commenting on a person’s weight if you could potentially benefit them in the future. The UK is the most obese country in Europe and we need to be able to freely comment on weight like it’s a problem rather than a lifestyle.
If an obvious “tombik” is made to believe that she’s just big-boned and not delusional you’re contributing to the problem.
I would never want to re-live my experience, but I am thankful to my school peers that did fat shame me because I lost seven stone. At the time it was really hurtful and I will never forget the names I was called, but I don’t know if I would’ve lost the weight without the cruel encouragement.