Breaking News: Fast Food Can Make You Fat

, , , , , , | Related | November 5, 2018

When I am fourteen, our family moves from Israel to the USA. I am a pretty skinny, petite teenage girl who is used to eating the normal, very reasonably-portioned, healthy diet of home-cooked food that was traditional in Israel.

As soon as we move, my mother takes advantage of the abundance of pre-made and fast food here to nearly completely replace our diet. She brings home things like store-cooked, super-fatty chickens for dinner, and encourages me to eat large portions. She frequently takes me out for fast food burger meals, and pulls out high-calorie ice creams from the freezer to shove them in my face and insist I eat them with her, usually multiple times a day. Instead of sending me to school with an actual lunch, all I get is a thin pita with some chocolate smear for breakfast and money to buy lunch at school, and the only food sold at school is high-calorie, high-carb stuff like bagels and pizza.

At that age, and with my cultural background, I know absolutely nothing about nutrition, and so don’t realize I shouldn’t be eating most of this stuff. Unsurprisingly, within just a few months I gain over twenty-five pounds. Along with the extra weight, I get a lot of very bright, red stretch marks in multiple places, including many places on my legs.

I am finally truly sick of my mom nagging me because I don’t want to go to the pool, due to not wanting to show myself in a swimsuit. I finally pull up my pant legs and show her the red stretch marks on my calves and the insides of my knees. I assumed she would immediately understand, as she herself is a rather large woman, and I have seen her body enough to know that she also has many white scars from old stretch-marks on the legs and hips. Instead, however, she makes a surprised and horrified face at me, and with a tone that sounds like she thinks I have some terrible contagious disease like leprosy, she says:

“Oh, God! What the h*** is that? What’s that horrible stuff on your legs? What’s happened to you?”

When I carefully explain the little I know about weight gain and stretch marks, she looks at me skeptically and acts as if she’s never heard of such a concept before in her life – in any language — and continues to look at me funny for the rest of the day.

Despite this, she continues to feed me the exact same terrible diet, so despite daily gym classes at school and then a gym membership, none of the weight ever comes off.

A few years later, when we’re in a store trying on dresses for me to wear to my high school graduation, I find one I like and try it on. While I’m standing there, looking at myself in the mirror, my mom says, “Oh, this is such a nice dress. You know, you’d look so pretty in it if only you weighed twenty pounds less. Yeah… It’s a shame you’re so chunky, isn’t it?”

Thanks, Mom. You’ve done ever so much for me, and been such an inspiring, helpful, and uplifting person in my life, especially during the always difficult teenage years.

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