When Rebecca Golden walked three miles across her home town of Toledo to hear Barack Obama speak, his words filled her with hope.
Not only did the 36-year-old American journalism graduate long to see him win, but, after losing over 100kg, it was the farthest she'd walked in years.
The 'eight cans of Coke a day' girl who had gastric band surgery two years ago, lays the blame for her enormous weight at many doors.
In her autobiography, Butterbabe, Rebecca describes her father's sharp tongue and quick hand, the bullies at school and her mother's failure to confront her husband's cruelty.
Ultimately though, Rebecca knows that no one could have stopped her weight soaring to 273kg by age 34, except herself.
"I always wanted to pretend that I was normal, no matter what shape or size I was," she says. "I didn't want to talk about it to anyone. I spent my whole life pretending that it was not an issue."
From an early age, Rebecca used her weight as a weapon. After being punished for childish mistakes, she'd take food and curl up in her bedroom cupboard reading books.
"My father was 50 years old when I was born. He could be really charming, but his ideas about how you raise children were really old-fashioned."
Whipping her with a riding crop when she answered back, and making fun of her weight in front of her friends, he turned Rebecca's love of food into a full-blown eating disorder.
"It was very hard. In his own way he was worried about me. He thought if he made fun of me then I would have to acknowledge that I had a problem."
The wider cost of his abuse became clear when eight-year-old Rebecca tried to make friends at her new school.
"I developed the nickname 'Moose' and that was horrible. When we were lined up in rows on the gym floor waiting for the bus, everyone would chant at me."
Burying herself behind a wall of books, pizza and chips, Rebecca learned to live inside her own imagination, and allowed herself to believe she was like everybody else.
"Deep down I guess it was too hard. I always dreamt of being thin, but everything I read about diets said they didn't work. Eating was my emotional release."
In Butterbabe, Rebecca remembers how she invited 18 people to her 16th birthday party, and no one said yes. Biding her time until the end of high school, she was relieved to leave her home town for Boston University. Heading to quizzes rather than discos, the 184kg first year lived in a wardrobe of over-sized T-shirts, and accepted endless social rejection as part of the course.
"I worked very hard at it, at being in denial. I tried to push ahead with my life, as best I could. The worst part was when I'd realise that I was missing out on things. You wanna date in college. And I would be really sad about that."
In graduate school, she was forced to restrict herself to tops and skirts.
"I caught sight of myself in trousers. The size of my stomach made it look like I had a bottom in the front. Not attractive and not comfortable either. Just awful."
Rebecca adds that in winter she couldn't find a coat that would fit, and not being able to dress properly made her feel 'poor'.
After University, Rebecca continued to fight against the limitations of her body size. She discovered there was no chance of anyone hiring a 27 year old who weighed 234kg, regardless of talent.
"When you weigh over 220kg, people are shocked. Their reaction is very striking and they make a lot of assumptions: that you're lazy, that you won't be able to do the work. Even if I got to show them the work I'd done, they wouldn't want me on the company health insurance because I was expensive."
Finally, weighing over 250kg, Rebecca suffered two bouts of sciatica.
Imprisoned by her body and unable to find anyone to hire her, she ended up living in her mother's basement.
Lying in bed, a statistic she'd read went round and round in her mind.
That the life expectancy for someone with her height, who weighed over 225kg, was 33 years. Rebecca was just 32.
"Not long after that I was in a profound depression. My grandmother died, and I just felt really trapped and helpless. I was afraid I might die."
That was the turning point, and with help of therapy, surgery and her family, Rebecca has since lost over 125kg.
"I feel physically better. I can drive a much smaller car and fit into places I couldn't before, like booths in restaurant - which is ironic. I can also use a normal seatbelt in an aeroplane, without having to get an extension."
After being fitted with a gastric band which prevented her from eating large quantities of food, and inhibited fat absorption, Rebecca changed
"In the old days there were times when the only liquid I took in was Coke. That's liquid sugar. Not that I blame the drink. I knew it wasn't made up of spinach and wheatgerm."
She adds that even after losing weight, there was a final barrier to dating.
"I needed to have some fat removed which I couldn't bear anyone to see. I had an apron of fat hanging down from my middle."
Dating for the first time when you're 35 is a steep learning curve, according to the young writer.
"After I had the skin taken off, I started testing the waters. I discovered that there are some guys who are into bigger women - but they tend to be a bit weird! My main problem is that while I want to date bright and accomplished men, sometimes they want to date women that are
younger and thinner than me."
However she has started to enjoy her new figure.
"In the old days I didn't feel like I had a gender. I was just a big amorphous blob. Now, it's nice to be able to express being a woman, with clothing, makeup and nail polish."
Her favourites buy has been a black dress with a low neckline.
She laughs: "You've got to work what you have. I'm not super thin around the middle and my legs could be better, so we'll just go with cleavage!"
:: Butterbabe is published in paperback by Vermilion priced RRP$32.95.