3.5 out of 5 stars
As I stuffed my face with a bunch of crap this weekend, I started Butter by Erin Jade Lange. Oddly enough, the book opened with Butter, sitting on the couch, watching a news report about how airlines were going to charge obese individuals for two seats starting January 1st. As Butter watches this program with disdain, he looks at the coffee table full junk. And I mean…FULL of junk. His pre-dinner snack. So as I guiltily shove another piece of chocolate into my mouth, I quickly lose my appetite and read on.
I am going to be completely honest. (Though, I always try to be as honest as possible..sometimes brutally so). I am not huge. I am not skinny. I am not perfect. I talk down to myself… constantly. I put myself down constantly. I am my own worst enemy. My own worst critic. I degrade myself anytime I eat something I shouldn’t. Even if it is in moderation. Even if I count it towards a set amount of calories I may or may not be recording for that day. I look in my mirror and tell myself how disgusting I am. How I am not good enough. How I am not pretty enough because I am not a size 0-6. (Though, I don’t want to be that size.) But it hurts that that is the “size of beauty” in this day and age. It is disgusting. And I know, with 100% certainty, I am not the only person to do this, think this or say this.
Why? Why are we so hard on ourselves? Is there really a reason? Sure there are about a million reasons. It is what people say around us, or to us, in the pivotal moments in our young, adult life, when our bodies are changing, that shape our thoughts. And those thoughts, those moments, are hard to overlook, are hard to put out of our minds because they literally shape the person we become later in life.
Butter, was a miserable, self hating, 432 pound, 16 year old boy who drowned all his problems, thoughts, stresses, happiness and every emotion in between, with food. His mother was no help, constantly cooking and shoving more food into his face. His dad was no help, allowing Butter’s mom to go about ‘allowing’ Butter to get that big, yet his dad would not even talk to him. Seriously. His dad acted and reacted in a disgusting manner and instead of reaching out to Butter, shunned him. Rejected him.
Butter sat alone at school during lunch. He had to sit on a bench instead of normal lunch chairs because he was too big. He had to have special desks in all of his classes because he could not fit in the normal desks. He hated himself. One day, upon seeing a list of “Most Likely to…” online about his classmates, he discovered he was most likely to die of a heart attack. Many people who didn’t know Butter made comments on his “Most Likely To..” and someone even posted a candid shot of him eating during lunch. Butter decided, no one who didn’t know him was allowed to post negative and hateful things about him on the internet except him. He created a website called ButtersLastMeal.com where he stated on New Years Eve at Midnight, he was going to eat himself to death. Live.
The next day, he became one of the most popular kids in school. The book from there on was him trying to make peace with those in his life he would be leaving, the back and forth of him getting mad at his new ‘friends’ for being so supportive that he WANTED TO KILL HIMSELF, to reminding himself that the only reason people were talking to him and including him in was BECAUSE he was going to kill himself. LIVE.
I was appalled throughout this book. I was so ashamed for each and every one of those supportive assholes. I was pissed at Butter. I was pissed at his parents. I was pissed. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE!? I was never a bully. I was always the person who stuck up for the kid being picked on. Always. I might not always be the nicest person, I might not always be the happiest person. But one thing I cannot tolerate is hatred. I remember only ever saying one disgustingly hateful thing in my life, and it was because I didn’t know any better. And that is what breaks my heart most about this book.
These kids SHOULD have known better. But no one cared. No one cared enough to TELL someone. In fact, they would post comments on Butter’s website about what his last meals should include. Egging him on EVERY. SINGLE. STEP. of the way.
Out of meanness, I wanted Butter to die. Because, that would make for a “WTF” face at the end of the book. So I prepared myself for his death. I am not saying he died, and I am not saying he didn’t. But I wanted to prepare myself no matter the outcome. Then I thought, maybe he would disappear, fake his death on the internet live, and then just disappear. There were talks about some Institute that helps heavier kids. In a state far away from Arizona. I prepared myself for every single thing that could have happened. So if you read this book, I suggest you do the same.
I shed some tears. But mostly, I was just angry and appalled and ashamed for humanity. For cycles of viciousness that should have been broken long ago. It is these moments in our lives, that shape who we are now. I don’t think I would have been as hard on myself, if it wasn’t for all the times I had food ripped out of my hands or told I needed to lose weight when I was an okay size. Still to this day, I hear it. I had to put up with it from my ex. True story: I lost 20 pounds while he was on a short deployment during Hurricane Isaac. 20 pounds. TWENTY. I figured he would have a look of wow! on his face when he came home. Do you know what I got? “Keep going, you still have more to lose to get to your goal.” That is what I got. So, to everyone who is a dick to someone because they aren’t like you. Fuck you. You should be ashamed of yourself. We aren’t supposed to look the same. It doesn’t mean we suddenly become less of a person. How boring would life be if we were all the same everything?
The important things is this. Be happy. Love yourself. I have been trying to do this, love myself. Getting through all the years of hating myself is hard. But, I want to be happy. Sure, I want to be healthy. But I am not going to not do something if it will make me happy. So I will eat chocolate when I want to. I will eat crap food when I feel like it. I will live my life. For me. Why should I live for anyone else? Why should you? Why should Butter?