Weight Room Title Bar

as told to "The Observer"

[The more "live and let live" attitude of today's teens on many issues, including weight related ones, has been noted elsewhere. In one school there was even a series of pro-size acceptance activities this last year, the origins of which were shared with one of the originators a few weeks ago. This story is loosely based on that discussion.]

Josie hadn't seen Lori since May, but couldn't help wonder how her friend had been doing. Lori's Mom had died the previous summer and her Father had alternated between leaving her at home to snack and nibble during the week, then taking the girls out on excursions one the weekends. Plenty of food there as well. Lori had confided to Josie that she had picked up twenty pounds and was then 155 lbs in the tenth grade. Josie had quietly noted that she was only five pounds behind.

Since then Josie had been seeing a lot of Bobby, who loved to take her to the movies and buy her burgers, sundaes, pizzas and other good food. To her mother's comment that she seemed to be be gaining weight Bobby had simply shrugged, "plump is alright, so I wouldn't worry. But you're not anywhere near there yet anyway."

Josie wasn't so sure, but somehow his friendly acceptance made it seem of little consequence. But there was no question that the waistband of her shorts felt tight around her belly, and she could feel the fabric hugging her hips. Her bras and blouse seemed tighter as well. She knew she had gained a few more pounds --- but somehow it felt good.

She was now on her way over to Lorii's for breakfast. It was half way on the seven block walk to school and they had agreed to eat, then go the rest of the way together. She wondered if Lori would note her extra pounds as she knocked on the door.

The girl who answered surprised her -- if she had gained ten pounds Lori had gained over twenty that summer. She had to be at least 180, Josie quickly calculated.

"Come on in --- hope you are hungry," her friend said. "I've made us some french toast and beef sausages --- it should taste terrific."

The inviting aroma from the kitchen confirmed that a calorie laden breakfast lay beyond. Josie followed Lori in and found the promised items plus a side order of hash browns in a bowl and a large pitcher of milk. By her count it looked like she was expected to eat four sausages and three slices of french toast --- quantity of hash browns were optional. It all looked very appealing and delicious and Josie sat down willingly.

"Hope it tastes good," said Lori, "I am practicing cooking timing and it helps to have a customer besides myself."

"What do you mean?" asked Josie as she chewed her first bite.

"McCafferey's Coffee shop needs a morning shift cook from 4:30-7:00 beginning next month. I can cook everything on their menu but I need to work on my timing --- making different items finish together.

Lori took a helping of sausages and began eating her own french toast.

"I've been practicing on my dad and I in the morning and evening while I work there in the afternoon making the desserts and salads. But starting cooks get $2.00 per hour more. I just hope the free food doesn't keep agreeing with me toooo much!"

"What do you mean?"

"A new Federal tax law says employers who feed their employees get a deduction that doesn't have to show up in the employee's wages. No payroll taxes either. So McCaffreys lets you have free food rather than paying more money. And you know how good their stuff is."

"You've added a few pounds already?" replied Josie as she poured a second glass of milk."

"Diplomat! As if its not obvious. Looks like you've been eating well yourself."

"I like it --- and so does my boy friend."

"Oh? Why don't the two of you come by tomorrow and we'll play restaurant --- you two place and order and I'll try to make it all come out right. Limited menu, of course."

And so it was that for the next week Bobbie and Josie came each week to Lori's for breakfast. She had a selection which included pancakes, french toast, oatmeal, breakfast burritos, chile rellanos, omelettes. hash browns, beef sausages, corn beef hash, and pastries. Whatever perishable ingredient's weren't used by the three teenagers became her father's meal the next morning --- although he was always gone before the "restaurant," financed by Lori's earnings, opened.

Bobby told his friend Max about the food fest and Max, who had a job of his own, offered to become a "contributing guest." With Lori's consent he began picking up part of the bill, and at the end of the second week invited her out to a local Italian restaurant. Somewhat surprised, Lori asked if Bobby and Josie could come along. "Sure, as long as Bobby pays his way," replied Max.

After three weeks the time came for Lori to change to real restaurant cooking as she was offered the job. With the practice that she had had she did well, always finishing up in time to get to school on time. She, of course, had to give up the afternoon job and so suggested that Josie try it.

The result of this was that, for the balance of the year, the evenings of both girls were not available. Lori Max became a regular dinner date on the weekends --- along with Josie and Bobby, and the four of them frequently ate lunches (usually burgers or pizza) together at school. By December Lori was passing her no longer wearable size 16 clothes to Josie; she was buying new size twenties. Both Bobby and Max had plumpening bellies and had let their belts out several notches.

The foursome never discussed their increasing weight as a group, of course. None of them wanted to go on a diet and everyone was fearful the others might do that if the subject were brought up. But Bobbie and Max discussed it privately, as did Lori and Josie.

"I think its cool the way the way the girls enjoy food," Max said, "and the weight looks great on them - especially Lori."

"Josie is great, man, and you know it" replied Bobbie. "We just need to do things that don't make them think about how nice and round they are becoming --- let eating be a side effect. That way there won't be any talk about diets."

"You hope! But OK --- lets concentrate on being concerned about their homework and taking them nice places, praising their jobs and letting them know that we care about them. They can be a big as they want as far as I care."

"My mom's noticing how much weight we're gaining," Josie confided.

"So?" said Lori, "what is she going to do about it."

"Nothing, yet. She just says I should be happy but aware of what I am doing - cause once on it won't come off easily."

"Probably true --- my dad says its normal for many intellectual people are heavier cause they sit and eat while reading rather than exercising. He's cool about me being plump. I think its because he enjoys my cooking."

"Yes, so do Mac and Bobby --- when they can get it. Those guys have each gained a bit themselves, but don't tell them."

"No, they might stop offering us dessert on the weekend!"

By the spring break it was evident to everyone that the four teens were all approaching or over 200 lbs. Josie was still not as large as the others, but all four were doing well scholastically and becoming a puzzlement to their peers.

"Can I ask you a personal question," Schael Grimes inquired of Lori one day. Scharel outweighed Lori by at least 30 pounds, but, unlike Lori, she was always trying to diet and attract boys.She didn't realize that her obsession over her size drove everyone else batty.

"Why is it that you and Josie can gain weight like you have been and still have boy friends. It doesn't make sense."

"Why not," replied Lori. "Some men like skinny women, others like heavier ones. But size either way doesn't insure attraction. You have to like your self before you can be friendly to others --- and its the friendliness that makes the difference. If you want I can have Max talk to you about it."

"You'd take a chance on letting him talk to me? You have that much confidence"

"Trust is a better word. Do you want me to do it?"

"Sure, go ahead."

And so Lori did --- but Max didn't want to do it. Neither did Bobby. They saw Scharel as a negative, self-centered, down on herself, always sullen. They thought it would be better to have a group discussion where those interested in size issues could come and talk together.

"I like bigger girls, sure," Bobby explained, "but not just heavy --- they have to be caring and reasonably intelligent. I wouldn't mind discussing my feelings in public, but there should be some positive attitudes in the room."

"I agree," Max chimed in. "Why don't we write some articles for the school paper on larger teens and then follow up with a meeting. We could talk about different issues from seating to dating to getting a job. And we should have some adult role models there too."

"Then why don't we ask the CDP (Cultural Diversity Projects) Club to get behind this," suggested Josie, "there are certainly heavier people in every culture."

"Alright," said Lori, "but think we should get together with Scharel and talk with her as a group --- she needs to be included in this if we do it."

And so was that the CDP play that year addressed issues of size and one of their discussion forums dealt with the topic as well. There was, as one might expect, a few raised eyebrows and some comments, but overall it was very well received --- especially in the local press and by both adults and kids of size.

By the next year, as Seniors, the fivesome, by then helped with around a dozen others, put together three size awareness activities on campus. The CDP discussion group program added a forum for size related issues. In one unexpected offshoot, a number of larger students who had previously simply stayed in the background became involved in other clubs in which they were interested, and a ripple effect spread throughout the campus.

Part of the reason, Bobby and Max feel, is that the CDP discussion groups gave validation to students of size and encouraged them to step out just like anyone else and see what they could do. Josie and Lori agree --- but with the caveat that it was the acceptance and caring of Bobby and Max that permitted them to be persons of size rather than crawling into a hole at a sensitive time in their lives. All four are in college this year, but still keep in contact --- in fact, they went out to dinner as a group just this last week. I am reliably informed that current long range plans include a joint wedding ceremony after college graduation.