Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks

Big Daddy (real name Shirley Crabtree)I was an aggressive child, I think that’s fair to say. I had learned that this was the way to deal with the world. One of my favourite things to watch on the TV was the wrestling, and my two favourite wrestlers were Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. I had a secret ambition to be a professional fighter when I grew up, even though you never saw women wrestling or boxing on TV. So my heroes were all men in this sphere.

Giant Haystacks had the same birthday as meI was sometimes called Giant Haystacks for my messy blonde hair as well as being fat and I quite liked that one. Giant Haystacks could have been a compliment, although it really depends on the tone it’s said in. I was constantly in trouble for fighting, in school and out, and made to feel guilty for having a need to make a battle out of everything. No-one ever thought back then to advise me that I should take up karate or a similar sport to relieve and control the pent-up aggression. I abandoned the idea of being a fighter as a silly, childish thing and turned the anger in on myself.

The combination of a battling instinct and a solid frame is probably a bad one, though I think now that it has got me further than if I’d been meek and mild. The first time I realised that being fat was a bad thing was when I went to a slimming club with my Mum. Being four stone at age four was quite good, I thought. A bit like height, I thought that the more you weighed the more people would be proud of you, like ‘hasn’t she grown?’ Also it seemed like a nice balance to be the same weight as my age. So I went around telling everybody very loudly that I was four stone. This didn’t go down too well with the other slimmers in the class.

For the first time in my life people judged me negatively by my weight. I learned that evening not just that I was fat, but that this was something to be ashamed of, and that I should do my best to get thin. This, they advised me would be done by eating all the foods that I didn’t like and none of the foods that I did. I thought pah to that, I’ll just be fat! Big Daddy was fat and nobody tried to make him feel bad about it, and anyway if they did he’d just sit on them, haha. But even though I took this attitude, the culture of continual weight-loss till you’re too weak to walk still soaked in. I spent most of my life feeling like I should want to lose weight and there was something wrong with me because I didn’t.

Really I think the world turned for me when I took up kickboxing at age thirty-five. I need to be fit, but I don’t want to lose weight. I don’t want to lose weight, for the first time in my life since I was four years old. I’m in the heavyweight class. If I dropped a weight class then I’d be fighting the teenagers and that’s not what I want to do, thank-you very much. Those girls are fast. I have found an environment where being built like a brick sh*t-house (as my mother would put it) is an advantage. I am perfectly happy being fat and fit and I don’t give a hoot what anyone thinks about that. And as it turns out, I am Giant Haystacks after all, haha.

And you know the interesting thing is, when I look back at those photos of myself as a child, and photos of other people like Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks who were considered fat, they actually don’t look that fat compared to the people we see today. And none of us can have been that unfit.

Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room


5 Responses

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  2. I was also a fan of Big Daddy. I remember part of my world collapsing when I found out his real name was Shirley!!!!

  3. yuh-huh, Shirley Crabtree. Who’da thunk it? Reckon he took up wrestling cos he needed to prove something?

  4. Inebriety says : I absolutely agree with this !

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