I grew up plus-sized. I always felt uncomfortable with my body, and the comments I heard or read often made it worse. From a young age, I struggled to not internalize those comments and use them for my own self-destruction… but failed.
I never really understood why the people who made these comments thought they were helping, or that their remarks were okay. It was the equivalent of punching someone in the face and then having the audacity to ask them why they’re bleeding. Why would you say these comments to a person and then ask why they have a negative body image about themselves?
The worst part is that those horrible remarks still stick with me and continue to impact how I see myself in the mirror.
Here are just some of the comments and interactions that have continued to impact my body image today:
“Why don’t you look thin like X?”
For me, those comments started in the 6th grade. I later looked up how to lose weight fast and entered the world of pro-ana/pro-mia websites. Although I never actually developed anorexia or bulimia, I binge ate a lot whenever I felt sad and reflected on these comments.
I discovered several blog posts dedicated to me and my weight.
Several classmates befriended me in 7th and 8th grade. I thought nothing malicious of it, but boy was I naive. I later found their Xanga blogs and saw they would refer to me as “Momo Jiggles” because I apparently jiggled when I ran in gym class. This was a devastating blow to a kid who already showed early signs of mental health issues. I sank even deeper into depression after this disgusting discovery.
“If you lost some weight, you’d feel better.”
Several people have told me this. Doctors have implied that other health conditions would magically disappear if I shaved a few pounds. I’m not saying I’m anti-exercise or healthy eating; I’m actually fairly healthy for someone who is overweight. Sure, I have fatigue and chronic pain, but overall I am healthy as a horse. I don’t have high cholesterol or blood pressure. I’ve tried losing weight and it hasn’t helped my pain, so… sorry, Doc.
“If you lose some weight, you could have better luck finding a partner.”
Oh, so the end goal for losing weight isn’t for better health or self-love or happiness, it’s to find a partner? That makes absolutely no sense, and yet I heard that throughout high school and college. I thought things would die down after I got engaged. But, that only transformed the comments into jabs about how I would look on my wedding day. I’ll let you all in on a secret: I look great in my wedding dress and actually need it resized because I’ve lost more weight.
“She has broad shoulders like a linebacker.”
I wanted to shrink myself so much when I heard that line. I used to hate my broad shoulders because I could never pull off dainty, feminine clothing. Nowadays, I try to wear whatever I want and not care about how my shoulders look.
“You don’t want to build more muscle in your calves; they’re already big enough.”
Whenever I go to the gym, someone would always tell me to not develop too much muscle in certain areas. Listen, either you want me to lose weight or you don’t want me to lose weight… pick one! Better yet, just say nothing! I’m working on my weight, okay?
Rather than making these comments and situations into weapons against myself, I am now trying to turn off my negative thinking. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how I look as long as I am happy and healthy. With affirmations and lots of willpower in my pocket, I’m working on loving myself a little more each day. I will get there someday, somehow. Are you with me? Are you ready to work on loving your body today?