Mary Gelman has won first place in the 77th annual Pictures of the Year competition’s portrait category for her photo of couple Alyona and Sasha.
“Pig, sow, cow, oink-oink – I heard more often than my name. All the people in kindergarten and school insisted that I quit dancing, a fat girl in dancing sounds like a scandal! Once at school, we rehearsed a dance, and while I was dancing, about ten boys from the class surrounded me. They were grunting and laughing at me. I always loved to dance, but I left this as each time I tried I was kicked and bullied.
It was a lot harder at home. My mother was ashamed of me, my father beat me. He always thought I ate too much and controlled me. He dumped a plate with food on my head or smashed it against the wall. I was afraid to eat and could starve for weeks. My mother hid food from me or cooked something I didn’t like on purpose. Sometimes I ate leftovers from the kindergarten that she picked for our dog. My father did not care for this food, so I could reach it. When my mother was in the hospital, my brother and I stayed with my father. He locked me in a room for about five days and did not give me anything but water. Everyone was obsessed with my weight.
Probably most of my life I thought about death. It’s hard to live when you are not respected and bullied only because of your weight. A couple of times I tried to drown myself, but my mother pulled me out. A few years ago, I found a love, learned about other overweight people on Instagram, started to read about body positive and feminism. If not for that, I would not be here right now.”