Tamara Shephard is the the main character of the web series Life After Fat – A smart and fun dramedy about a girl who loses some weight and gains some problems. Tamara knows firsthand how it is to struggle losing overweight. And, just when she realized that winning over her inner demons was her priority, her body started to shed the extra-pounds. Today she says, to Love Yourself is priority! Got some free time? Watch the episodes clicking –> HERE <– and Read her personal journey from “Fat” to Life After “Fat” below 🙂
“What is Life After Fat ? We see the same story in fashion & media all the time: Girl loses weight, Girl is happy, Girl gets everything she dreamed of and lives happily ever after. Hollywood, the Diet Industry, Fashion Industry, would all have you believe that weight loss is purely physical, that all one has to do is fix their outside and everything will be fine. What you never see represented is the internal struggles that people go through when they are trying to lose weight. Binge eating, bulimia, food addiction, emotional eating, anorexia – are all very real issues that must be dealt with in the process.
I can remember the first time I thought food might become an issue for me. I was too young to understand it, maybe 4 or 5, but it was the first time I felt out of control. I was eating a white wonder bread sandwich with cheddar and mayonnaise. I had eaten half of it, but it was drenched in mayo, the cheese was very thick, the bread had gone soggy and green from mixing with the canned pea juice pooled on my plate and the thought of finishing it made my stomach turn. I threw the rest away and I walked to the bathroom because I thought I might be sick, when my mom burst through the bathroom door; screaming at me, garbage-sandwich in hand.
“We don’t waste food in this house,” she screamed. “I can’t even pay the bills, are you going to get a job?” I remember feeling frightened and ashamed. My skin felt tight and cold. She handed me the sandwich that was covered in bits of vegetables and a hair and whatever else it had touched in the trash can, she made me sit on the toilet and finish the sandwich while she watched. I cried while I ate it. My mother smiled. In that moment it was my fault my mother had financial issues. I finished the sandwich and she let me go outside and play. I never threw food away after that.
My mother, who had mental health issues, used my sister and I as a sounding board for her own body image issues. She would over feed us til it hurt, but if we gained any weight, we were “fat,” and “embarrassing” to have as daughters. Then, to curb the weight gain, the dieting would start. The cabbage soup diet was the first diet we had to endure. I remember the stink of the red cabbage mixed with stewed tomatoes, and the mush it turned into after eating leftover soup for several days. Then the grapefruit diet, Atkins, the Sacred Heart diet, fasting, juicing, cleansing, Weight Watchers; we eventually did them all. Food became a punishment. I hated all the diets and I hated myself. I prayed to God, that I would wake up with a different body, that I could be less ugly and fat. I was eight.
I was around 9 when my sister (14 at the time) started restricting her food intake. It seemed like over night she had lost a severe amount of weight, and in turn, I had lost my best friend. She shut down, she wouldn’t play with me, I couldn’t hug her. My mother was pleased to have a thin and beautiful daughter, explaining to her, if she felt too full, she could always get rid of it by making herself sick. My mom would praise my sister for loosing weight, which only deepened her eating disorder. My sister would make food for me, and ask me to eat it to tell her what it tasted like: A pound of burger meat, a pot of noodles mixed with tablespoons of butter, a pan of rice crispy treats. She would make it, I would eat it, she would watch. When the bullying from mom over my weight intensified, my sister sneaked candy bars under my bed. Secret candy? Yes, please. I was just a kid, and I loved her for it.
As a newly converted “secret eater” I stopped losing weight on my mother’s diets. In an effort to slim down, I started taking dance classes. I remember loving how it felt to jump and move. I was the biggest girl in my class at the start but soon I started to slim down from the physical activity. As a preteen, going through it in the moment, I was unable to see the changes and disgusted with how I looked in the dance costumes. Ultimately I gave into my shame at 13 and quit dance. It started to snowball from there.
7th grade year, I jumped from 140 lbs to 170 lbs. My mother asked me to try out for cheer leading that spring. When the team was announced, and I was on it, I couldn’t believe it I was so happy. When uniforms were handed out, I was too big to fit them. I had to have mine specially made. The other girls found out, and the bullying began. They used to call each other the night before game day, and switch the uniform we were to wear in an effort to further alienate me from them. I would show up in the white uniform we were told to wear, and the rest of the team would be wearing the red uniform. In school people pointed out that not only was I fat, but I was apparently stupid as I could never remember to wear the right uniform to school. During the after school games the girls would spread out on the bleachers just enough so I couldn’t sit with them. When I would ask them to scoot in, they would all pretend they couldn’t hear me and laugh. I would spend the game sitting one row behind everyone else. I hated my Body Image and I wanted to lose weight, but at the time, I didn’t know how.
The summer before high school, I was up to about 210 lbs. In my highschool I went to dance rehearsals, and I actually ended up feeling pretty good about my audition. The team instructor called me personally the night before the team was posted. She told me I had done really well, but I was too big to be on the team. I cried myself to sleep that night.
Tryouts for dance team happened again, 2 months later. I was probably up to 220 lbs at that point, and avoiding another personal rejection, I hid the auditions from mom. She was furious with me. “All of your friends are on teams!” She called the basketball coach who explained that the team had already been picked. She found out where practice was held and forced me to go in. This time the coach explained it in front of the entire basketball team, my peers. Humiliated and trying not to cry, I remember begging my mom to let me go. She said, “If you’re going to leave, you’re going to jog home.” She dragged me out of the building, got in her van and drove behind me as i jogged home. I stopped exercising completely after that. I suppose it was my act of teenage rebellion. I was too naive to realize that the only person I was hurting was myself. All I knew was that exercise was a punishment. Diets were a punishment. My mom continued to criticize me for my weight while buying us fast food for dinner 7 times a week. I continued to gain. Can’t wait for part TWO? Click –> HERE <–
If you digged this article, then you will dig these — Self-Love Gave Abby More Then She Got From Size 2, The Bumpy Road of Recovery from Eating Disorders, Zoe Kravitz: NEW MOVIE Release! ‘The Road Within’ on Eating+Mental Disorders
Thanks for the support and love 🙂 Your REglam Team xx
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