Out in the Open

Haunted by the weight of your past

Isaac Fitzgerald learned as a kid that being “fat” wasn’t good and the weight of his younger self haunted him into adulthood.
Issaac Fitzgerald is an author, editor at Buzzfeed Books and a self-described "former former fat kid". (John Midgley)

Isaac Fitzgerald says one of the moments he's carried with him for a long time was when he was eight-years-old. He was shopping for clothes with his mom. He wrote about it last year.

It was a stressful time in their lives, especially for his mom, and money was tight.

In the clothing store, nothing he tried was fitting.

"I was struggling to find something that fit and so she slapped my stomach," he says.

"She said something along the lines of like, 'If you would just stop eating. If you just weren't getting so fat, we wouldn't have to be buying clothes all the time'.'"

Fitzgerald says that's when he realized his weight was causing problems for people he loved.

"My size was something that made my mom sad...And that's when I really became aware of my body."

In high school, Fitzgerald lost a lot of weight and because of the positive comments he got, he says he learned another bad lesson, that "Fat is the wrong way to be. Losing weight is the right way to be."

And, even though he was no longer a "larger" kid, Fitzgerald says he still saw himself that way.

"In my high school days, after I had lost all that weight, I became sexually active and just really found that to be a comforting act. And, so, quickly through my teens and 20s [I] just spent a lot of time having sex with numerous partners, partially because it was a way of like escapism, but then once it was over… I would almost always put my shirt on."

Fitzgerald says he's always carried that moment with his mother in his head.

"I try to make peace with what happened back in that [clothing store] and ... [am] learning not to be as hard on myself about those things nor as mad for the things that have happened and just accept them as part of who I am today."