I had never heard the phrase “More than a fat kid loves cake” before, and I was appalled to find it all over Café Press (a site I usually love).

I have seen many fat-negative slogans in my lifetime, but for some reason, this one truly troubled me, and I wasn’t sure why (I mean, besides that this is tantamount to bullying fat kids).

Last Sunday, Whaliam and I were out for breakfast and I saw a fat kid at the counter with an older man who seemed to be the kid’s father.  The kid was eating a piece of toast with some jam on it, and the father said something to the kid.  The change in the kid just hit me right in the heart.  I can’t describe it, but to me it seemed like the kid was no longer enjoying his toast – he still ate it, but the whole mood had changed, and some very painful feelings came back to me.

I can’t remember the very first time this happened, but some time in my early childhood, I was eating something I truly loved, and someone questioned whether or not I should be eating that.  My world went gray in that moment.  The pleasure I had anticipated was replaced with pain, shame and anger.  And I know I ate the food in question – every horrible bite of it, while I forced back the tears – furious with myself for still wanting the food, furious with the person for judging me and for robbing me of this little bit of joy.

That moment changed my relationship with food forever.  I could no longer eat in front of people without the fear that I was being judged, was going to be humiliated and shamed.

Of course, that moment has been repeated over and over in my life – confirming that I could only enjoy food when I was alone.  And each time it hurt and brought up all the same feelings of guilt, shame, and anger.  And after awhile, this just becomes a part of your life and you don’t question why you eat in secret.

So now I know why I hid food to eat in private.  Why I would anticipate time alone based on what I would eat.  Why when I had the chance to eat in private I would gorge myself  – because I didn’t know when I would have a chance to enjoy eating again.

I am surprised that it has taken all these years for this painful memory to come to the surface.  It explains so much about my personal relationship with food.  I am still struggling with the feelings that this has brought up for me.  I feel betrayed by those who kept repeating this message and I feel betrayed by my own brain for accepting this message for so long without question.  After all these years, I suddenly find this pain raw and fresh as the first time I felt it; but this time, I am not telling myself that it is okay, that I deserve to be treated this way.  I appreciate this gift of self-knowledge and hope to use it to make myself a wiser (and hopefully, happier) person.

If this has happened to you, I cry for your pain.  What a horrible thing to do to another person, much less a child.

A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water. Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches, and thoughts. And the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them are far-reaching. – Sivananda

And by the way, I knew a guy who LOVED cake, more than anyone I had ever known – literally lick the plate love the cake – and he was thin.  So fuck you whoever thinks only fatties love cake.




  1. I remember once asking my dad to stop at a favorite ice cream shop on a summer day…

    “YOU don’t need that.”


    It was a really big moment in my life when I realized I hadn’t deserved to be treated the way I was treated as a child. It started a huge cascade of pain that’s taken (is taking) years to deal with.

    I’d always thought I had a happy childhood, at least that’s what I told myself, because I really, viscerally, believed I deserved all the abuse heaped on me about my body from parents, grandparents, teachers and peers. Realizing I didn’t deserve it meant I had to feel it. So hard.

    And I hate that fat kid, cake thing, too.

  2. Oh, yeah. God. Constant refrain of “do you really need that,” and attempts to make me feel guilty for eating anything, all through my childhood. Being told that I should be eating 1200 calories a day as an active teenager. Not allowed to eat the same foods as my thinner friends. Being told I couldn’t have more food when I was still hungry. Being told that the desserts in the house were for “adults only.” Being told that I was putting too much grated cheese on my pasta and too many crackers in my soup, every time. Being taught to pour a little oil into a pan, and then wipe it with a paper towel to make sure that all it did was add a thin coat to the bottom. Spaghetti squash treated like a main course. Anything to prevent me from eating something substantial. It’s a miracle that I still like vegetables.

    • I freaking LOVE spaghetti squash as a main course. Of course, I make mine with huge chunks of feta cheese and lots of kalamata olives, which is probably not how you got to have it. But man, the crackers in the soup thing…yep, I got that, all right. If only I had skipped the crackers, I’d be skinny like my mom!

  3. Wow – what an ephiphany! Same thing with me. I can remember the adults in my household smelling my breath, chasing me down the street because I had a cookie, shaming me in front of huge crowds of family….it all sucked. So, just like you, I would gorge myself in private. I ate way more than I would have eaten if they had just left me alone and let me be a normal kid. Being the only fat kid in the family was REALLY tough. It was like being under a microscope. I know that if I had been left alone to develop normally, I never would have tortured myself losing vast amounts of weight, only to gain it back and pretty much wreck my body. I wouldn’t be half the size I am right now if I hadn’t completely ruined my metabolism. I’m 50 years old and it still pisses me off.

    I am so thankful that I can now eat in front of my family – my husband is so accepting of me and loves me no matter what size I happen to be (and I have been many sizes since being married to him for 22 years). I am thankful that I have the later part of my life to live in relative peace. Not to say that I’m not paranoid, but I work through it one instance at a time. It’s hard, but I refuse to waste one more moment of my life dieting and counting and suffering. FREEDOM!!!!!

    The little boy breaks my heart – because we’ve all been him. I can’t stand to see that.

  4. This is a great post. There is something profoundly awful about parents trying to regular their children’s food intake. When they do it it makes them feel something more than embarrassment. I feel like the parent is basically asking them to give up their potential and joy of life because they’re saying their appearance is so bad that it warrants trading off a lot of utility for a small (or, in reality, non-existent) gain in acceptability.

    I didn’t realize this growing up, but it’s really one of the nastiest ways an adult can undermine a child’s self-esteem. Thanks for posting on this.

  5. I was put on my first diet when I was around 8 years old. The reason I was put on the diet was pressure put on my mother by the pediatrician.

    I remember the event well. We had gone in for some sort of shots or check up. I was in my panties and nothing else. Being a little kid, I had put them on inside out and backwards meaning the size lable was showing.

    The doctor was yelling, literally screaming, at my mother about my weight. He reached over and crooked a finger in my panties, pulled them out and let them snap back against my body while he screamed.

    He said, “My WIFE wears a smaller size than this! This child will be DEAD of a HEART ATTACK by age thirty!”

    That was in the early 1960’s long before the hysteria about the Obesity Epidemic was even conceived. I know it was hell for me growing up as my parents did their best to save me from the fate the doctor had forseen. I know they did it because they wanted the best for me and an authority figure had told them I was all wrong as I was. So, with all the best intentions in the world, they tried to fix me and instead broke me to little bits.

  6. Oh man, this hit pretty close to home. I think a lot of us can relate to that experience. you really hit the nail on the head with your description: still eating it, but it’s not nice anymore, and being angry at that person. Man, now I wish I could hear someone saying it just so I could tear them a new one on behalf of my younger self.

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