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FAT CAMP CHRONICLES

I was fat growing up. By the time I realized anorexia was the popular girl approved “cool” way to lose weight, I had already signed myself up for nine weeks at fat camp. My parents didn’t send me away, ashamed at their daughter’s girth – I asked to go. It was at fat camp that I had my first kiss (which led to my first fingerblasting) and my first boyfriend (who eventually became my first dead ex-boyfriend). Although my sexual appetite was more than satisfied, my food appetite was growling with hunger. An apple was dessert. Diet coke was a one-a-week snack. Salad dressing was forbidden. Had I known I would one day live in Los Angeles where hot water, cayenne pepper and maple syrup is considered a full meal, I wouldn’t have freaked out as much. On field trips I would steal sugar packets from restaurant tables, saving them to eat under the covers in my bunk later that night. No one could send us food because the counselors opened all our packages, sniffing out chocolate and candy. So I had friends mail me individual pieces of Trident in thin envelopes (we weren’t allowed gum, either). We found ways of cheating the system (and our diet). My bunkmate snuck in an entire bag of marshmallows by disemboweling a giant teddy-bear and stuffing the bag inside.

We hid ourselves behind some bushes, ripped the bag open and devoured every single delicious marshmallow in less than three minutes. That night, we had a bonfire. And as a very special once-in-a-lifetime treat, we were given a marshmallow. I refused mine. My counselor looked at me like I was crazy. And then I threw up white fluff all over my KEDS. Things got more desperate. I once snuck out through a hole in the wire fence that surrounded the camp. I had to shimmy my way out through the dirt, wade through prickly shrubbery, and walk a half a mile down the road until I found a grocery. I bought a bunch of Chipwhiches, ate one and sold the rest for $20 each once I got back to camp. Starving? Or business-savvy? You tell me. But we certainly didn’t have it the worst. Our camp’s basketball team (yes, even fat people like playing sports) played a game of basketball against campers from a basketball camp. And we won. That’s gotta be ten times more humiliating than licking a scratch-n-sniff sticker of a strawberry for nourishment.

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