Excerpt: 'Carnie Wilson'

Drama was the perfect outlet for my outgoing side. I could win people over with my acting. A wonderful teacher named Sabel Bender constantly encouraged me to work hard at bringing my characters to life. On the opening nights of our productions, I'd tell her how nervous I was. "Good," she'd say. "Now direct that energy into your performance. You'll be great!" She'd always compliment me on my strong stage presence, and her inspiration helped me build confidence that has influenced me for the rest of my life.

By this time, I was already into boys, and my attitude toward my weight began to change. I had a few close girlfriends, and we were chunky together, but boys weren't part of our social life until around the fifth grade. I remember at that time I had a crush on a couple of boys, but they wouldn't give me the time of day. They wanted the thin blonde girl with the big blue eyes. Everybody wanted her, including the guy I just adored.

I was so in love with him, and we became close friends, but he never really wanted me. I'd go over to his house or call him on the phone, and we'd talk about the girls he liked. I'd give him advice, but inside I was dying for him. I was dying for that moment when he'd finally realize that I was the one for him.

"I really appreciate your friendship," he'd say. And I wondered if he didn't want me because I was heavier than his ideal girl.

Later we wound up having sex together once, and I was his first. But he never wanted me for a girlfriend, and my heart still aches a little when I think of him. I ran into him several years ago. He's now the dean of an exclusive private school in Los Angeles, has children of his own, and is still as handsome as a god.

But I had other boys who liked me. I always had a boyfriend. So it wasn't like I was this loner fat girl who never had a date. I was very popular, but I know the feeling of being rejected by the men you want, how it is to feel like you're not worth anything because you don't look a certain way, and the loneliness when they're not paying attention to you. It's sad, and it can be self-depleting.

There were times when I was attracted to guys and they'd just tell me that they couldn't get around my weight. It was so crushing that I can't dig up the actual memories. But it's one of those things that needs to be verbalized. When you feel rejected, you need to talk about it with people who care, and hopefully they'll comfort you.

They'll say things like, "He doesn't know what he's missing. You're a great person. One day you're going to find someone who really loves you for who you are." That's what I got from my mom and all my friends. They helped me believe that having a good personality is so much better than having looks — and that the boyfriend of my dreams would be there for me when the time was right

I actually had my first boyfriend when I was five years old. He had the cutest freckles, and I had a major crush on him.

"Do you think he likes me?" I asked my mom.

"Sure he does," she said.

I remember going to his house to play. But we were five. What were we going to do?

At six I was taught how to French-kiss by a gorgeous boy named Jeffrey Knott, whose parents were friends of the family. I remember how unbelievably warm and fabulous his mouth was.

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