When did you experience your first body shaming comment? For me, I was around the age of thirteen. A “friend” asked, “What happened to you over the summer? You were skinny last year and now you’re not.” That began a lifetime of trying to change to fit in, to be better than I was. I never felt comfortable. I always felt like I stood out in a crowd, not because I was the most beautiful, but because I was the biggest. I never felt attractive. I pined for love that was never reciprocated. I was teased and laughed at through most of my school career.
As an adult I have tried to change my body but after short-term success, only experienced failure. Feeling like a failure became a familiar feeling. That one small remark when I was thirteen set me up for a life of self-hate, shame, embarrassment and a feeling of never being good enough.
Many times people make remarks without even thinking of the damage their words are doing. I’m sure many of you are familiar with comments like those listed below:
- Keep eating like that and you’ll be a butterball.
- You’d be so pretty if you’d lose twenty pounds.
- You have good baby making hips.
- Should you really go for seconds?
- That dessert will only add more pounds to your already too big waistline.
- You look like you’re eating for two.
- Are you pregnant? (When you’re not.)
And the list could go on. Often these comments come from the very ones who claim to love us; boyfriends, husbands, parents, friends. Each insult only serves to chip away and erode our already low self-esteem. People think they are motivating us to do something about our weight when in fact, hurtful comments only serve to make us feel worse and push us further into feelings of depression, anxiety, self-hate and shame. Sometimes people are even pushed into even more dangerous situations like self-harm, eating disorders or even attempts at suicide.
If you are on the receiving end of such thoughtless words, know you are not alone. It’s important to dig deep and find the courage to speak up and say, “NO MORE!” Distance yourself from people who make you feel bad about yourself. Find people who make you feel good about who you are. Find people who value you. Surround yourself with positivity. Unplug from social media that is negatively impacting your mental and emotional health. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from counsellors, help lines, religious clergy, anyone who will listen to your story and help lift you up out of the darkness and into the light. Life is short. Don’t spend another day hating you. Turn the body shame into body love one small step and one day at a time. It takes work but is so worth the effort.
Be Pretty, Plus and Proud and show all the shamers that their words will not take root in you! You are so much better than anything anyone can say to you!