Health and weight

Emma - Interview 31

Female
Age at interview: 19

Brief outline: Emma, 19, was bullied throughout primary and secondary school, and although it was hard for her at the time, she believes it's made her the person she is today. Emma believes the hardest part about losing weight is maintaining it afterwards. Ethnic background: White British.

Background: See 'brief outline'.

Audio & video

Emma, 19, is studying for a maths degree at university. She was bullied throughout primary and secondary school, and although it was hard for her at the time, she believes it’s made her the person she is today. The bullying involved name-calling, threats, hitting and stealing. Even Emma’s brother used to bully her about her weight (although he could also be quite supportive at times too). Emma says that being bullied made her feel useless and bad and made her eat more – although she also ate out of boredom. Emma admits she used to use food as a way of coping, but says as she’s gotten older, she’s learnt new ways.
 
Emma says her weight problem began when she was small, and that she was much bigger than the other kids. For example, she was in size 16 clothes when she was 12. Emma puts her size down to not getting enough exercise. She says she didn’t want to exercise because she wasn’t confident and worried about people laughing at her. Rather than playing with friends, she would stay at home and do her schoolwork. In general, she says she avoided sports or anything that involved mixing with other people.
 
Emma’s Head of Year told her about a weight management programme, but Emma only agreed to go if her friends did too. When she did go along, she refused to go in on the first day, and then didn’t speak to anyone for 3 weeks. She says she felt worried about going out of her comfort zone and about what would happen if she lost the weight. However, once she realised that the other young people there were in the same situation and she wasn’t on her own, she felt more confident and started getting involved in things.
 
Emma believes it was the small changes she made in her life that helped her lose weight, like walking more, changing what she was eating and drinking more water. She remembers that it was hard making those changes, especially because her brother seemed able to eat what he wanted without gaining weight. She says she used to think to herself that she was doing for herself and not for anyone else, and that helped her to feel stronger and more confident. Emma felt that it was her responsibility to do something about her weight – because she was the one choosing her lunches at school. Nevertheless, she thinks making those choices can be hard because of the pressure of everyone around you being able to eat what they like, especially if you don’t feel confident enough to be different.
 
Emma believes the hardest part about losing weight is maintaining it afterwards – she struggled at first because she continued to lose weight when she didn’t want to. Her ideal weight was when she felt she looked right.
 

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