It’s time to talk about my body, your body and all the people who have made you hate it.
It’s time to talk about body shaming.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been on the ‘plus’ side, body-wise; never a skinny girl. Nor have I ever been in a committed relationship with my gym – in fact, it was more of a ‘once in a blue moon’ type of affair. Throughout my teen years, I was constantly being told I should change things about myself, that I should lose some weight, grow my hair a little longer, get a year-round tan, put layers on top of layers of mascara and so on. I was trying hard to become ‘a girl’, and trust me it was difficult.
Moving on, I somehow managed to always keep positive and look happy to people, I was always the one to cheer my friends up and make them feel better about themselves, despite struggling myself, with myself. My parents were pushing me to lose weight as soon as I could, my friends were all prettier than me and so on. My mother wanted me to look like all those beautiful girls in magazines and I did too. In all honesty, I never thought those standards were necessarily ‘impossible’ to attain, as many people might think, I mean, we all know at least a handful of gorgeous ‘irl’ people, right? It was doable. As soon as that realization came to mind, I became more aware of myself; I was checking myself in shop mirrors and every other car window I passed. I was trying so hard, it had taken over my life: too many diets and just as many failures. My thighs, they were still too big. My stomach, far from flat. My arms, not very toned. And I could go on. Main point: I hated my body. Really, really hated it.
In time, I tried to let go and accept myself for who I was. I tried to get used to the idea that this is who I was and I would probably never look the way I want to and slowly, somehow, I began losing weight. Moving to a different country for university gave me a new perspective on things: in the UK, I was below the average size, 12-14. I was a 10, sometimes an 8 (!!!), and well, it felt pretty amazing. I was finally OK with this Bianca. Sure, I was still not ‘fit’, but I’d come a long way and was eating right – I was doing something and it was working, I was proud of myself. In the past 6 years, it’s been ups and downs but, in the end, I ended up rather happy – still a size 8/10!
… until one day when I was brought back to reality by the comment of a person I know. And by one day, I mean a few days ago. We were just hanging out and I made a harmless joke about them getting chubby soon, given we’d just had a massive Vietnamese meal (I always assume everyone is just as sensitive as I am about their bodies, so I keep it nice and light). And then their reply hit me: “Do you wanna talk about YOUR body?” – said in a tone harsher than I ever really had to deal with before. (I should mention here that although I am sure it was not meant to be hurtful intentionally, it certainly did harm my self esteem.) Of course, it was followed by some useless “Are you upset? I was only joking” – to which I did not really reply, since I had already started imagining what they meant.
I started thinking about everything all over again. I mean.. was I really still that flawed, after everything? And most importantly, why did I even care? I’m in my mid 20s, I surely have more important things to worry about, right? Wrong. I was worried about my body again. I was worried because despite all my efforts and days gone without much eating, I was still being made to feel ‘less’ of something, less of what a girl is meant to look like. Less of a girl, in short. I almost even apologized for it. Let me say that again, I actually almost apologized for MY body, to someone else. And I should not have to, no one should.
Body shaming is not okay, no matter who it is coming from. It was not okay coming from my mother, although I know she meant well and it ultimately got me here, and it was not okay coming from all the boys who have ever made any comments about me, and definitely not okay coming from the media or anonymous people commenting on your Instagram pictures.
I guess what I am trying to say, after all this rambling, is that you should embrace who you are, especially in such times like today, when plus-size models are walking down runways and getting media coverage, when body positivity is encouraged. I know, I know, ‘embrace who you are’ – what a cliché. That is not to say you should not try to change things you want to change, especially if you are trying to be healthier – just do it for yourself, not someone else who will not probably care anyway. You do you, and as for me, I’m going to get back to my pizza now.
Don’t forget to love yourself!
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