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"Being fat is so embarrassing"

Erschienen auf "stern.de", 03.01.2009

Von Autorin Ingrid Eißele

Nearly two million children in Germany are overweight. In addition to health problems, they suffer from bullying and social isolation. They compensate with snacks. A vicious circle that can be hard to break.

Sometimes she felt like an old lady. Like when she struggled to her feet on the bus. Or had to wait on the landing while climbing the stairs to her apartment. Or the time she wanted to ride a roller coaster and had to get help to close the safety bar. “It was so embarrassing,” she says. If there’s one word that characterizes those years for Monica, it’s “embarrassing.”

She would have liked to wear a tight top or cool jeans. But at 240 pounds? “I had no waist,” she says. She wore her father’s sweaters and bought ladies’ clothes from a catalogue. She stayed away from chairs. “The ones at school were so tiny, I could only fit one butt-cheek on them at a time.”

At ten she was chubby. At eleven rotund. At twelve roly-poly, at thirteen medically overweight, at fourteen obese. The weight gains accelerated. “In the end I was putting on 20 pounds every six months.”

“There comes the fat pig!” the other kids yelled. Her pretty face? Her intelligence? Her helpfulness? Nobody cared. …

The story of one girl’s success at a weight-loss camp for teens - a combination of competent help and iron self-discipline. Back at her old school, nobody recognized her. “She has a cute figure after all,” her mother says approvingly. Now seventeen, she knows who her real friends are.