Dear Rene,

I’m 13-years-old, 5’9” tall and weigh about 154 pounds. I want to go on a diet and exercise more, but during the summers where I live it’s definitely too hot to be outside and I have asthma so I can’t anyway. Everyone tells me I’m not fat, but when it comes to things like boys or getting picked on I know I am. I have a friend who is really skinny and to be truthful I’m jealous. She’s a good friend, but she makes little remarks about my weight. Like when she’s tired and wants me to move, she says “Move biggie,” or “Excuse me fatty.” She says these things like a joke, but they really hurt. When it comes to school people don’t make fun of me intentionally, but end up doing so thinking it’s casual conversation.

*”She’s kind of like you, a little heavy,” this was said by a girl named Brittney in my school when describing a new girl.

*”Whoa! You’re so tall,” This is said by, well, almost everyone and it makes me feel like a tall giant freak.

*”You’re not as skinny as all those other little girls and you’re going to have to deal with it,” this is said by my family members.

These words hurt. They make me want to end my life. My mom refuses to buy healthy food, and tells me I’m too young to diet. What does she want me to do? Eat nothing because literally I hardly ever can make anything healthy in my house. Wait until my weight is twice as much at 18 and then diet? That would be hard.

I’m basically just tired of being surrounded by beauty and people not saying that I’m fat but making little remarks about how I’m fat. They don’t think its mean, but I’d think it would be interesting to see one of those girls in the shoes of a fat giant freak that happens to love food a little too much.

Unhappy With My Weight,

Dear Unhappy,

I’m not going to minimize how you are feeling because I know it is very real. But I do want you to listen to what I have to say. I once knew a girl who was tall, skinny and pretty goofy-looking. She was also socially awkward, no one asked her out on dates, she wore glasses and because her family didn’t have a ton of money, she was always two steps behind the fashion trends, picking up whatever her mother could find on sale on the military base. Oh yeah, she got teased for that and so much more. But you know what? Inside she was smart. She studied hard (some subjects were easier than others) and she excelled at sports. She grew up, went to college, got a good job, got married and is raising a beautiful family. Those barbs she took in high school, well, she can barely remember them. How do I know that? Because she is me.

We ALL feel this way growing up and it seems like an eternity before things get better. That’s because you are in a period of intense physical, mental and emotional growth. But you can and you will make it through. So let me address a couple of things that are bothering you.

YOUR WEIGHT/SIZE: You look at TV and the movies and think THAT is what’s normal. It is not. What is being presented to you is an approximation of real life and what’s in magazines is even worse, thanks to Photoshop Once you wrap your head around that, you need to start seeking out examples of real, healthy women. Check out former WMBA standout Lisa Leslie. At 6’5” she had a great basketball career and also models. At 5’9” you are taller than the average woman, but who wants to be average? I know you are concerned about your weight and the fact that you can’t exercise outdoors in the summer but there are plenty of things you can do inside too. Scout out some online exercise programs. Do you have access to a swimming pool? That’s good too. See if you can talk our mom into buying less processed food and more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, not because you want to fit in size 6 jeans, but because you want to live a long and healthy life. How can she disagree with that?

HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT YOURSELF: I want you to do something for me. Go to the mirror, take a good look at yourself and finish this sentence, “ I like my _____.”  Find three things you like about yourself and they don’t all have to be external. I’ll bet you are a good friend, you may have a kind heart, you may like the color of your eyes or the way your hair falls. This is an exercise in learning how to appreciate what you DO have instead of what you don’t. You may never be a size 2 with a size 6-shoe, who cares? Learn how to “do you” and embrace the things that make you unique.

YOUR “FRIENDS”: I’m about to drop some serious adult knowledge on you. Your “friends”? THEY. ARE. JEALOUS! That’s right! I know you have a hard time buying that because they are your “friends” but those comments you listed? That is passive-aggressive behavior at its finest.

Your little friend wishes she had your height because she knows she’s facing a lifetime of hemming jeans among other things. There are two ways to go with this. One is to tell your “friend” exactly how this makes you feel. The other is to ignore it. I’m a fan of the latter. See, once someone knows what gets under your skin, they’ll keep after it because they found your Achilles heel. You know what I would do if I were you? Each time your little friend said, “Move over, Biggie” I’d respond with a “Go around me, Shrimp.” I know some of the moms might not agree with me but I would seriously give it right back to her. I wouldn’t let her know her cutting remarks bothered me (even if they did) and finally, I’d look for a new friend and give this one a dose of the “leave-‘em-alones” If she doesn’t know how to treat her friends, she’ll soon find herself without any.

I hope this helps but more than that I hope you really understand that what you are going through, though is really a very small amount of time while you’re growing up. No one is worth ending your life over, least of all these people. But if you ever feel like it’s too much please call someone. Meantime, concentrate on the things that make you beautiful on the inside and watch the true friends flock to you.

Good luck honey!

Do you have a question for a mom but don’t want to ask YOUR mom? Click here and fire away!