The dropping of the H-Bomb.
There I stood sparkly-eyed and jumping for joy (inside my head) with my mom in the Boy’s Clothing department at the opulent Muirhead’s Department Store in Dearborn Michigan, looking at rack after beautiful rack of the most spectacular clothing I’d ever seen in person. This clothing looked every bit as exciting as I imagined possible from what I had seen on TV shows, such as The Jim Nabors Hour! And they were mine for the choosing! My dream had finally come true!
Because we were the poor preacher’s kids, the Muirhead’s (members of our church when my dad preached in Dearborn, who owned a very high end department store) invited us to come to their store and pick out 2-3 outfits each before school started. I can still smell the richness of this store… it emanated the scent of wealth.
As I stood there, my mind exploded with images of how great I would look as I strutted down the hallway flashing people the peace sign on my way to my classroom on that first day of school. Every head would turn and gasp in awe of my grooviness! As I stood there contemplating which of these amazing outfits I would first try on, my world came to a screeching halt.
“Excuse me ma’am…” I heard behind me, while in the purple haze of my glory, “… you seem to be in the wrong section…” as I heard the sales woman whisper to my mother in a tone as if she were speaking of a horrible and unthinkable disease. “What?!” I snapped my head around just in time to witness as she paused for a few seconds more to look over her shoulders in either direction, I guess to see if the coast was clear, “Ahem, you see ma’am, this section is for slim boys” as her voice became even softer, and ever so slightly more malicious, as if she knew she was about to drop the H-bomb on a little boys heart,
“… your boy is obviously HUSKY.”
As the mushroom cloud was forming above my head, and before I could completely comprehend what exactly just happened, she turned to lead us to the department especially assigned for my “type”. Through the blur of my memory, I remember taking the long walk of shame to the dark, rear corner of the boys department as I was placed in front of the ugliest rack of beige clothing I have ever seen. The letters of the sign hanging over the one, singularly sad rack of clothing, designed especially for me, simply read, for the entire world to see in big fat, chunky bold letters – HUSKY BOYS.
My life was over.
It was official. In that moment, on that day in the late summer of 1971, at the age of 7, I was fat… unlovable…and obviously not worthy of groovy clothing.
This moment in time wrought the basis for my self image that would follow me for the rest of my life through to adulthood. I grew up thinking I was fat… with varying degrees of non-love for my body.
…to be continued. (Click here for Part 2)
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