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Dear Jido,

I'm 15-years-old and I feel like I am a worthless human being because I am overweight. I know you may think what I said is dumb but you have no idea of what I am going through. My friends are not really helping. They constantly tease me about my size and I always cover everything up with a smile. Then, when I get home, I cry myself to sleep. My family also doesn't help me feel good about myself.
I tried to open up to my dad, but all I got in return was laughter from him and my two brothers. They do not realize how much they hurt me. I really think I'm depressed. Do you have any suggestions for me?

Signed, Hurt

Dear Hurt,

It seems that you have been hit with a double whammy – once from your friends and again from those closest to you, who should be looking out for your best interests.

You are not alone. It has been found that most youngsters who are overweight are routinely ostracized and teased by their friends and classmates. Your parents would be well advised to do some research on the effects of overweight-bullying on youngsters.

You state that you think you aredepressed. Let’s see what we can do to help.

1.     First understand that you are showing great strength of character by asking for advice and not giving in to feelings of inferiority. The fact that you may be overweight is not your “fault.”
It may be due to genetics, family habits, or other factors beyond your control. All of their teasing will not change your physical makeup or who you are.

2.     Understand that children who bully others are generally doing so to make themselves feel good, usually at the expense of others. Therefore, it is important that you don’t give them the satisfaction of letting them hurt you. Opposite. Inform your teachers AND your parents in a mature manner about the bullying behavior of those kids who bully you.

3.    Find activities that boost your own self-confidence in areas where you know you excel – designing, writing, building, organizing, sports, hesed. Do it with a group of people that you are comfortable with.

Ultimately, you need to be true to yourself. If your weight presents a real health risk, you should take steps to remedy it. Don’t make changes so they will stop teasing you, do it because you believe in yourself and you want to do what is best.

You are obviously a very special 15-year-old. Help others see beyond your physical appearance and see the greatness that resides within you.

You can do it.