Health and weight

Becca - Interview 22

Female
Age at interview: 17

Brief outline: Becca works part-time as a retail assistant. In the past few months she has joined WeightWatchers and has lost one stone. Her main motivation to lose weight is her health. She is concerned about weight related conditions such as diabetes and heart problems. Ethnic background: White British.

Background: See 'brief outline'.

Audio & video

Becca said that as a child she was slightly bigger than other children her own age but as she got older her size did increase and eventually there was a noticeable difference in size between her and her peers. Becca remembers she was quite young, six or seven when people began commenting on her size. The first of those comments seems to have come from relatives; aunties and cousins.
 
Becca did experienced bullying in school particularly in secondary school. Bullying was mostly verbal but there were occasions in which it turned physical. She said that her school didn’t take any action for a long time until Becca’s parents threaten to go public if they didn’t do anything about the bullying. Becca said that her school’s response wasn’t adequate because it was patchy and not really supportive. As a result of this experience she said that she matured faster than other teenagers her age. Copying with the bullying was sometimes difficult and hurtful but eventually she was able to move on. For a long time Becca thought that if she was thin she wouldn’t have any problems at school and people would accept her. She just wanted to fit in. As she matured she has come to realise that it’s not necessarily the case.
 
Becca has lost one stone and dropped from size 18/20 to 16/18. She wants to achieve a size that is right for someone her height meaning a 12 or 14 size. Her most important reason for wanting to lose weight is her health. Her father was overweight and was diagnosed with diabetes. Becca’s father has lost weight and keeps his diabetes under control but he has poor eyesight. Becca said that she doesn’t want others to worry about her health. The second reason she mentioned is because she wants to look good.
 
She attends a WeightWatchers group with a friend and said that they are the youngest ones there but it doesn’t bother them. She finds the women in the group supportive and understanding. Becca tried WeightWatchers twice before but explained that it didn’t work because she was only fourteen and was doing it for the wrong reason; namely to conformed to the expectations of others. She thinks that the media portrays men and women differently. Girls have to be thin but boys need to be muscular.
 
Becca’s lifestyle has changed. Now she eats healthily and exercises regularly. She finds that it becomes a positive circle in which she exercises, feels more energetic and therefore wants to eat healthier food. Becca said that she is feeling the happiest with her body in a long time.
 
Becca made the point that health professionals treat people with eating problems differently. She explained that anorexia is treated as an emotional disorder and an anorexic person gets the support he/she needs whereas overweigh/obesity is seen in negative terms and there is little support available. Becca thinks that overeating also has an emotional component and health professionals should be more sympathetic.

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