December 5, 2017
Growing up in a world where body image is so seemly important is difficult. From such a young age we are instilled with what we should be eating, wearing, doing, and how we should strive to look. For any young girl, this can be a near impossible road to figure out. And even as grown woman, it is okay if we still struggle with these standards.
I was 6 the first time I was ever body shamed. I always saw that I was a little thicker than the other girls, but it didn’t keep me from playing and running around. I saw nothing wrong with me. One day while ice skating, I did figure skating for about 4 years, my friend, in front of a good portion of our team, told me that I was fat. I felt shame and disgust for myself pour over me. That was my life-changing moment.
After that I never looked at myself the same. I was able to nit pick everything about the way I looked, and became my own worst enemy.
Fast forward to High School. There came eating disorders and taking the pain out on myself. I was in theatre and danced multiple times every week. On the outside I looked so happy, but inside burned a constant hate for myself. Everyday was a comparison and a strive to look like someone I was not. I had lost most all of my chub, but my legs were beefy from dancing so often; deeming me the nickname “Thunder Thighs” and bringing on a whole new set of problems.
Slowly, everything in my world centered onto body image. I hated my face because my eyes weren’t big enough, and my face shape was more rounded then sharp. I hated my legs cause they weren’t long and lean. I hated my chest cause I had tiny boobs. I hated my hair cause it was curly and SUCH a hassle to straighten everyday.
It was almost as if I wanted to be the exact opposite of who I was.
One day, my friend began to look in the mirror and tear herself down. She hated her scars, cellulite, nose…the list just kept coming. This girl I viewed as perfect and gorgeous, was tearing apart my view of what I should look like. I turned to her and told her “Shut up. You’re skinny and perfect.”
After a long talk, my eyes were opened. She had been body shamed her life too. She looked in the mirror with total disgust, just as I did. But rather than hearing “fat”, “thunder thighs”, or “chubby”, she heard things like “twig”, “tooth pick legs”, “green bean”, or “go eat a burger”.
Her heart hurt just the way mine did, even though her self dissatisfactions came from the opposite side of the spectrum. I did not see her as being allowed to not love what she saw in the mirror, because thats what I strove to be like. It upset me that she hated everything I wanted, and did not see how beautiful she was.
I’ve thought about this conversation for years, and have begun to grasp and understand more. Nearly every girl I know has felt body shamed, no matter the body type they have. Society and media do not want us to love ourselves. No matter what we do or how we strive, we will never be enough if we try to live to those impossible standards. Because even if you reach and obtain them, there will always be more critics. Love and acceptance have to come from ourselves first.
Once we open ourselves up to our own criticism, we become an open playing field for the rest of the world. BUT if we love and embrace who we are, it creates a wall that is hard for those around us to break down. There is nothing stronger than a woman who is empowered by who she is.
We need to stop tearing ourselves down. Stop holding ourselves to a standard that isn’t meant for us. And stop telling other women they aren’t allowed to have struggles with their bodies. WE ALL STRUGGLE. We all are bound to have bad days where we feel our bodies aren’t up to par. NO MATTER OUR SIZE.
I believe that every woman has felt inadequate. I believe that in some way, we have all been guilty of body shaming another girl, even if it was meant in the best way. We need to be careful with our words, and first listen. Hear what she is saying, empathize, then encourage. Just because she has long legs, big boobs, a thin frame, or a curvy frame, doesn’t take away or change her feelings towards herself.
I believe if we altered the way we talked to each other, the world could change. If we embraced each other on these self hating days and said “ i understand how you feel, but you are so strong and worth so much more.” rather than “Shut up. You’re skinny and perfect.” we could all start to love and feel comfortable with ourselves. We would see that we aren’t alone; and I believe that by banding together, self love would grow in the multitudes.
Lets create a world where every woman feels empowered and confident.
Lets create an empire.
Written by Alicia Honeycutt