Overcoming Body Shaming
Love yourself even on your worst days.
I’m no stranger to being shamed by others for the way my body looks. And for years it’s haunted me that I don’t look like the models posted on the walls of Victoria’s Secret. Who had not an ounce of body fat and who stared judgingly while I bought my size large quarter-zip. Over time I realized that I’m perfect the way I am.
It hasn’t always been easy, but a little self love goes a long way. Our bodies are really the only thing we go through all of life with, here’s how I embraced it.
The first time someone pointed out I was “bigger” than everyone else was when I was in the fourth grade. I was at my friend’s house with some of the neighborhood kids. We were playing dress-up and I asked what I should wear. Out of nowhere, my “friend” said, “I don’t think I will have anything that fits you, you’re bigger than me”. Regardless of whether she meant to hurt me or not, my heart sank deep into my chest. At this point, I didn’t know why I had the idea that being bigger was less beautiful, but I was called out for being different, and that felt horrible.
This was the first time anyone made me feel insecure about the way I looked.
Now I’ve never been society’s definition of “skinny” but I shouldn’t have had to worry about the size of my waist in the fourth fucking grade.
I left immediately and cried the entire bike ride home. When I walked in the door sobbing and told my mom what happened, she was flabbergasted.
My mom assured me that I was absolutely beautiful and to never let what anyone says ever change the way I see myself, because my opinion is the only one that matters. While this situation has stuck in my memory through the years, I never forgot what my mom told me. Every time I got upset because I was a little heavier than everyone else, I reminded myself that I had one thing that other people didn’t: my mother’s voice. I was able to keep this positive mentality until a few short weeks ago, when I went to the gyno for my yearly visit.
The doctor went through the basic questions: Are you sexually active? When was your last period? Etc. etc. When I told her my period had been heavier than usual, she immediately blamed my weight. Had she run the other possibilities by me (for example: hormonal imbalances, my recent medication changes, or even the fact that I use birth control), I would’ve been bummed for a bit, but I’d eventually get over it.
But she didn’t run any of that by me. Instead she decided that one look at me was enough to accurately diagnose me, and then proceeded to tell me weight had gone up and needed to come down.
At this moment there was nothing I could do but nod my head. Once again, I felt my heart sink.
She spent the whole appointment talking to me about health-food subscription boxes and how I should order them to help me lose weight. And it wasn’t just about what she was saying, but how she was saying it. It wasn’t as if she was trying to help me; it felt like she just saw numbers and didn’t see me. I felt destroyed and all of the confidence I had gained was lost.
Up until this moment, I had been content with my body, but in just one moment felt like I wasn’t good enough all over again.
I eat a balanced diet and exercise as much as I can, yet I felt as though my best wasn’t up to par.
My biggest qualm with this situation is that she had no regard for how her words might affect my mental health. What would be the point of losing the weight if I was just fueling the self-hatred my mind already had?
I left the appointment embarrassed and in tears.
I know she’s a doctor and it’s her job to make sure I’m healthy, but there were a number of different ways she could have told me to lose a few instead of inserting her opinion mid-pap-smear.
I came home feeling defeated, but rather than stew in the negativity, when I looked in the mirror I decided to pick myself up.
I told myself 10 things I loved about myself, mentally and physically. This helped me realize how all the beautiful things about me make me more than anyone could ever judge from the outside.