In High School I was 5’2 and weighed about 95 pounds. I didn’t have muscles, I had a small chest and didn’t have any curves. I told my friends that one of my new years resolutions was to gain weight and I remember one of the girls in the group getting really mad about it and making fun of me for it. But the truth was, I was body shamed for being too skinny. A lot of people think body shaming only applies to those people that are overweight, but it happens to others as well. Society has created this idealistic person that has curves but is thin. A big butt, big chest, tiny waist. It’s pretty much impossible to even try to live up to those expectations. And although I was skinny, I wasn’t the “ideal” perception of a woman. I was too thin. And it drove me nuts. There is this tiny little niche that we try to put people in. You’re either too big or too small if you don’t fit perfectly into this little niche. I was classified as too small. Because people are always looking for ways to body shame, ways to bring other people down. I was told I had “chicken legs” “zero butt” “a gust of wind could just blow me away” “anorexic” “sickly”. And these statements hurt. Why do we try so hard to bring other people down?
We see this niche all the time in marketing and media. Daily we are told that this is what is acceptable, this is what we should be striving to be and to look like. This is what people find attractive. Companies have started getting better and it makes me so happy to see this, but there is still a long way to go.
I was self conscious about my size. Which seems silly for a perfectly healthy teenager. I was self conscious for being too small. It sounds ridiculous even saying it. But I know I’m not the only one that felt that way. I had another friend in High School that was about my same size and her and I talked all the time about being self conscious about how small we were. And on top of that, we got made fun of for feeling this way. We were told our opinions and feelings didn’t matter because we weren’t overweight.
Body shaming is body shaming. It’s as simple as that. When you are making fun of someone’s body, when you are trying to tear them down, when you are shaming them for what they look like or who they are, it’s body shaming. It doesn’t matter if they are overweight, skinny or even if they fit in that tiny niche, it’s body shaming. And it’s not okay. It’s never okay.
I’ve gained weight since High School. I went to college, had a baby, and my body has changed. But the world hasn’t. Body shaming is still happening but now it’s for different reasons, like my stretch marks. People are still feeling ashamed of their bodies and people are still trying to tear other people down because of their looks. Our bodies are amazing. We take things for granted daily like our eyesight, the ability to walk, our taste buds! It’s truly amazing what our bodies can do. I made the cutest little baby and that blows my mind daily. I’m constantly inspired by the people that stand up for themselves amidst the awful body shaming. So why don’t we all embrace the things we can do, the ways we look. Celebrate the people that we are instead of focusing so much on size and looks. Instead of accepting the tiny niche of “perceived perfection” why don’t we change it? Why don’t we widen that niche and start accepting all body types, all looks? Our bodies and minds are amazing and we can do so much, including changing this idea of perfection.