Dear Readers,

Throughout most of my childhood, I was chubby. And I don’t mean a little chubby; I was downright fat. It wasn’t until I turned 12 that I actually slimmed down.

My concerned mother consulted our wise pediatrician, who was like a member of our family. He advised her not to worry. “Just offer her healthy choices. When the time is right, she will be self-motivated.”

A friend of my mother who was passionate about nutrition thought otherwise. Long before today’s popular trend, her kitchen pantry was stuffed with seeds and nuts. She even had whole spelt flour. Who ever heard of that? Whenever her children wanted “real” snacks, they’d sneak to someone else’s home—ours—and dispose of the evidence.

She took me aside for a private conversation. Surprisingly, her approach wasn’t to teach me the value of healthy eating, which I might have found useful. “Chana,” she said. “I know that you are such a smart girl.” she paused as I wondered where this was heading. “But,” she continued, “When people meet you, they will never know! They will automatically judge you because fat people are often considered not very smart . . . and lazy!”

I must have been 9 or 10 at the time, but I clearly remember feeling sorry for her. Was that her perspective? Does she really do things because of what people think? Does she expect me to lose weight because of a wrong bias in our society? Why in the world would I care what people who I meet think, when the loss is only theirs!

Over the summer, between sixth and seventh grade, my makeover occurred. I guess I became more conscious of my appearance, or maybe I decided I wanted a bigger wardrobe selection than unshapely dresses. I figured out my own eating plan—basically, cutting down on unnecessary sweets and including more fruits and vegetables. My growth spurt over the summer, along with my more carefully selected foods, transformed me so much that when I returned to seventh grade, no one recognized me. The fat, ugly duckling had turned into the beautiful, svelte swan.

I am certainly not proud of my status as a fat child. As a mother, I offer my children healthy food options and educate them about the value of nutritious eating. But even more than nourishing them to be physically healthy people, I hope that, like my parents, I will be able to convey the importance of being true to themselves, irrespective of prevalent attitudes.

Because while weight comes and goes (especially during those pregnancies!), our self-perception, self-confidence and personal values are something that the pounds on the scale shouldn’t ever tip.

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW