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You Have to Say That 'Cause You're My Mom

Hippo. Cow. Obese. Chubby. Fat. Rotund. She’d been called every name in the book. Since the start of elementary school, the other children pointed and gawked at the layers upon layers of fat rolls that nestled upon her olive skin. Her slimmer peers would poke fun at her belly, fascinated by her excess “squish”. Caroline could sense the children’s eyes gazing in utter disgust and wonderment, scorching holes into her sensitive flesh. Often times, she wanted to wrap herself deep within her blubbery skin to escape from the grip of condescending stares. Each day, she watched the smaller children scale across the carpeted floors, light on their feet. While the ground trembled beneath her, the surface rattling with every trudge. She enviously observed the other kids swing swiftly along the metal monkey bars, sweeping gracefully at ease. While she struggled to hold on, gravity stubbornly dragging her back down to the earth.
After the school days, Caroline usually arrived home with tears streaming profusely down her cheeks. Eyes swollen and bloodshot from the riverbeds that collected at the edge of her lower lids, she’d bury her head into the crook of her mother’s soft arm. Tucking herself into a tight ball, Caroline blubbered about how the children laughed, mocked, and taunted her. Her mother, Karen, would sit still, rubbing her hand soothingly along Caroline’s back, silently listening.
“Mommy, why are the kids so mean to me?” Caroline wiped the tears from her face.
“Sweetie, you just have to ignore them. Remember what I told you before? They tease you because they’re secretly jealous of you,” her mother smoothed back her hair. “It’s like when boys poke fun at the girls. It means it’s because they like them and think they’re pretty.”
“Really?” a smidge of hope reflected in Caroline’s eyes.
“Of course. Just remember this. You’re beautiful just as you are. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.”
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