Growing up, I was always the fattest of the bunch. My dear mother keeps telling me that I wasn’t and it was just puppy fat but I know she was only saying that to make me feel better. I was a big girl – no, I was obese. I have hidden all the photos of me as a child, so well that I cannot find them, so I’m afraid I cannot show you an embarrassing slideshow but you can sorta see from the Featured Image. My family and I joke about it now but my appetite was far bigger/greedier than your average child – hence why I was the weight I was. My siblings were satisfied with a Happy Meal at McDonalds whilst I always wanted ‘an adult meal.’
I don’t think my childhood was ever affect by my weight. I thankfully never got bullied because of it. Probably the combination of my rest bitch face plus my weight was enough to scare anyone away! The only thing I think was affected by my weight was ‘being seen as a catch’ by other boys, which when I was younger never really phased me. I wasn’t really interested in boys then and in my innocent age, all I cared about were my BFFs and getting good grades. I was always the girl the guys came to when they liked someone for advice. It wasn’t until I started to lose weight, I got a tiny bit of attention from boys – still not much to be honest haha!
At high school, I was an all rounder because I was quite good at a lot of things. I was academically able, I was talented and skilled at music, and I somehow made it onto all the Girls’ Sports team. And although, I was a pretty fat girl, the one thing I was exceptionally good at was athletics, particularly sprinting.
I seemed to have this natural flair for running. I had never trained in Athletics in my life and before high school, exercise was never on my radar – the most exercise I got was the seven minute walk to school and back and even that was a struggle, I used to beg my mum to drive me.
I first learnt I was a fast runner at primary school. If you were a British student in the ’00, I’m sure you’ll remember the game ‘Bulldog’ which I loved because no one could ever catch me. On the annual Primary School Sports Day, I consistently won the sprinting race year in, year out. There was one year where I fell at the start line as the start gun went off and I still manage to win. I never really thought much about it, there was never a ‘I’m actually quite fast’ moment. I just assumed that because my school was quite small, it was just luck.
Then in Year 6, I was invited to run in a Borough Athletics competition and compete against the other Primary Schools. I went in with no expectations, I was going to try my best and that’s all I could do. But, to my surprise, and probably everyone that was there, I managed to win that race too.
When I started high school, no one knew who I really was. I mean, I wasn’t unpopular but I had no interest in being popular either. I just hung out with my friends and kept my head out of trouble. That all changed when it came to my first sports day in Year 7.
The girls in my form, bless them, weren’t sporty at all, and because I was on the sports team, they said that I could be team captain, which I was thrilled about. I tried to listen to what everyone wanted to do and delegate races/events to the girls. I told them that I’d let anyone do what they wanted as long as I got to run the 100mA race (the A race meant double points compared to the B race). I insisted to do that race. But because no one had seen me run, they all thought I’d lost my mind.
“Jess, you know that’s a sprint, like a fast race?”
“Yes,” I replied, “I know and I really want to do it.” I could see that they were all hesitant, and they probably wanted me to do something like Shotput, but they didn’t stop me either. Then this boy in my form who didn’t go to my Primary School but who was also at the Borough Competition the year before, stood up for me and said “I’ve seen her run, let her do this, she’ll win for us.” So my name was placed next to the 100mA for our form along with a whole load of expectation, ego and pride.
Walking onto the track that day was quite scary. I knew I could win at primary school but I had never seen any of the girls in this school run before, I wasn’t sure that I was going to win. Running against 7 other girls who I didn’t know the ability of was scary, particularly because I had insisted to do this race. I had to just put myself back into the mind set I had when I enter the Borough Competition, that I only could do my best. I think everyone in my year at Sports Day, including the teachers, were in shock when they saw me at the start line and they probably thought that this fat girl was going to be a laughing stock. I mean, it’s cruel but I think I would’ve probably thought the same if it weren’t me. We all judge everyone by their cover.
The race was over in an instant and I learnt that I had won by a huge gap. The girl in second place was a whole 5 seconds behind me. I even broke the school’s record that day. After that, everyone knew my name. Everyone wanted to try and race against me. I was essentially that fat girl who defy all odds.
Surprisingly that wasn’t my fastest race. I went to a competition for my high school I think when I was 13 or 14, and I managed to run 100m in just over 12 seconds. I have never ran it that fast since, that was a crazy fluke.
I’ve told this story so many times to my friends who all find it so hilarious, and I recently told this story to the boy I was most recently seeing and his friend when I was on a night out with them and he said “You’re chatting bullshit Jess, there’s no way you’re that fast.” I mean, I told them the story when I had a couple of glasses of wines and maybe a shot or two, but even when I told them I was telling the truth the next morning, they simply laughed at me and called me ‘cute’.
I guess the moral to the post is not to judge people. Not only on their weight, but their skin colour, the gender, their sexual orientation, their religion, on anything really. You never know what someone is capable of and if you allow them to have that moment to shine, they’ll probably smash it. In the space of something like 14-15 seconds I managed to change everyone’s perception of me – I was no longer just that little fat, Chinese girl who was crazy to put herself up for a sprint, I became the fastest girl of Year 7.
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