As hard and uncomfortable as these topics are to bring up, it’s a serious issue that needs to be addressed. One that I have unfortunately experienced first hand.
See, we always think that comments like “you’ve gotten fat” or “I see you’ve picked up weight again” are completely harmless but they’re not. These little platitudes might seem insignificant to the person uttering them but really comments like those can have some serious repercussions like anorexia, bulimia, body dysmorphia disorder or suicide, should they fall upon the ears of someone battling with a low self-esteem or depression.
No. Really, you never know if these little jibes are uttered to damage you or just to make the person feel better about themselves and their insecurities. Hard to figure. Even harder to grapple the fact that children, especially, can be that mean.
When I was way younger, we had a house blessing at our new home. Naturally, the whole family was there and all the kids would play together. During a game of hide and seek, I went to hide in the same spot as someone else and she yelled at me in front of all my cousins, “don’t hide with me. You’re too fat to hide here and they’ll find us!” Immediately, I ran away crying. I remember exactly how embarrassed I felt when people asked why I was crying. I couldn’t even admit that I was called that. I was twelve. And that was the first time I had come face to face with a body bully – or the horrible green eyed monster.
I don’t think the person who called me that realised then that, that comment would stick with me (and bother me) years later. I just think that it was said in a moment of jealousy and frustration (of not wanting to get caught in hide n seek) and that, that person probably forgot they ever said it.
Isn’t it funny how that works? People say things in jest and forget that they said it, but the person it was said to, walks around replaying that comment, in the same tone, word for word as if it had just been spoken. I always heard that comment in the back of my head and it followed me all the way to high school.
I’ve always loved fashion but I always felt awkward because of how I thought people viewed my body. Fashion is for the skinny, isn’t it? Or at least that’s what society wanted me to believe back then. I even hated when boys gave me attention because I always thought that they were trying to make fun of me.
The bullying didn’t stop there. I was bullied because of how my nose looked, because of how I had really long hair (yeah they even stuck gum in my hair) and because I was always a lot more innocent than most girls my age.
For a really long time, I wanted to fit in. Really long. I was afraid of not having any friends, any real friends. No one wants to be alone. I struggled with depression and in order to feel better on the inside I did the obvious and cut my hair. Funny thing that. Why is it when women or girls go through major life changes they cut their hair? It seemed like a pretty harmless thing to do because I was trying to deal with the depression in some way or the other but in hindsight, it was actually just an excuse to get it off so that girls wouldn’t feel insecure around me. I never had long hair after that. Now I’ve kind of claimed short hair as my “thing” but truth be told I’m scared to grow it back lest someone feels like my long hair is a deal breaker.
The bout of Depression didn’t last forever and I finally, with help from professionals and a relationship with God, started seeing light at the end of the tunnel. I could quite literally do anything through Christ who strengthens me.
My “uh huh” moment was after a bath one night. I looked at myself in the mirror and I didn’t see anything wrong with me – like I always did before. I always knew that I needed to be completely happy with myself first, in order for my mindset to change. It wasn’t an overnight boost of confidence (I still have my days) but at least it was a start – a good foundation in the journey to self-love.
I don’t really care what other people think of me that much anymore. I realised that life is too short to be bothered by senseless or useless platitudes. I have stopped dimming my light so other people wouldn’t feel insecure around me. (Quote of one of my favourite poems by Marianne Williamson).
I get it, we’re human and sometimes we need reassurance. My reassurance comes from God. I am justified by His grace. I’m saying that there’s a fine line in choosing which comments are important and which aren’t. Easier said than done, I know, but we must also know what is wrong and what is right.
My hope is that you love yourself unconditionally and then through that, that you unconsciously make other people around you want to do the same. May we make each other feel whole and loved again.
And may we always kick society’s opinions of the “perfect” person to the curb. Body bullying is NOT and NEVER will be ok. You matter.
Article by Guest Blogger Sian-Adel Hill