I recently read a post from the lovely blog This, On Purpose about fat shaming and her thoughts and experiences with it. Click on the link to her blog, if you want to read it, because it’s quite moving and thought provoking!
I left a comment, of course, but I wanted to expand on my thoughts and feelings in this post.
I struggled with my weight as a child. I was never what you would call fat, but I geared more toward the chubby side of the spectrum than the athletic, lean one. Not to say I didn’t participate in athletic activities such as swim team and Irish dance, but it was that time in a pre-pubescent girls life when she starts carrying more meat on her bones in order to be able to start menopause and puberty. And, yes, that’s a true fact which I learned in my adolescent psychology course at college. Are you impressed?
The body’s preparation to morph one from child to curvalicious adolescent requires fat, and this is a body fat percentage that society teaches girls from a young age to frown upon, avoided, and discourage at all costs. Now, I am coming at this from a Caucasian perspective, and I am fully aware that different cultures and races have historical and present standards of beauty that differ from the white majority culture in the media, so a fuller figure may not be the end of the world for a girl or family of varying cultural backgrounds. However, media in America and some of the world holds white beauty standards to be the most desirable, which has caused an increase in body consciousness in girl adolescents of all races.
At a time when a girl is most vulnerable and her body is undergoing all sorts of changes, many of which the average girl will be uncomfortable, self-conscious, or curious about is when she starts to hear the most criticisms and deprecating comments, if she doesn’t conform naturally to the beauty standard of the time.
I was body shamed by my Dad. I desired to quit the swim team because I didn’t like swimming lap after lap and the competitive edge among my teammates. It caused a huge rift in my family, because my Dad did not want me to quit. He wanted me to stay with it, even though my Mom was more sympathetic to my hatred of the sport. It caused my Mom to be the middle man, and it took my Dad and I’s relationship a long time to recover after I finally did end my time as a competitive swimmer. I don’t know why my swimming was so important to him, but one day as I begged to quit he blew up at me and said, “Fine! Stay up in your room and get fat as a pig!”
I can remember exactly how he looked, sounded, and how I did as well, when he said those words to me. Even writing this, it brings back painful feelings for me. That comment implanted in me a paranoia that, if I’m being honest, still lingers with me to this day. I won’t be naive enough to say this comment lead to all my insecurities about my body, my eating disorder, or anything like that, but I will say it had a part in it. Dear readers, y’all may think I’m being dramatic here and took too much offense to that comment, but I don’t care because it hurt me all the same. My Dad is by no means a monster or a horrible person. I love him and I know he struggled with his weight and own insecurities as a child as well. All I’m saying is, I know what it’s like to feel judged by someone you care about. For years, I couldn’t go into the kitchen with him watching me because I felt as though he was monitoring what I was eating or how my body looked. I’ve annoyed my past and current boyfriends countless times with my constant questions of “do I look fat? Would you love me if I gained weight?”. all the while sticking a finger down my throat to make sure none of those would ever have to be answered with a “yes” and a “no”.
There are many other reasons why I had such horrible self-image. The media. My friends. Boys. TV shows. The list could go on, because we human beings are complex and all are issues are as well. Even if I was never fat, I still felt as if everyone was thinking it about me. I’ve never been criticized or told I would look better if I lost weight by a stranger, a friend, or a teenage boy on the internet, but trust me, doing so would have made a negative impact not a positive one.
The point of This, On Purpose’s post was to call out body shaming as bullying, at least that’s what I got from it, and maybe if you read it you’ll gain something else from it. If you don’t believe it’s bullying then why did that comment stick with me so much?? Why do people call others fat or tell them they need to go on a diet, if they’re truly trying to be helpful? A truly helpful person, and not a bully, would let that person be or offer them a kind smile or word. The non-conformatives already get enough “help”, so accept a person as they are because you don’t know their backstory or their circumstances. If they ASK you for help, then give it, but otherwise let them live their life. Fat shaming them is only going to make them run back to food or cause them to self-loathe. It’s not inspiring, motivating, or anything else that might cause one to make a lifestyle change. Help someone through positive actions, not negative ones.
That is all for now, so bonsoir mes amies