Body shaming is everywhere. It is all over social media, in our kid’s schools and even in our adulthood friendship circles. One place I never gave much though to body shaming was in how I felt about myself.
The other day I stood in front of the full length mirror in my bedroom pulling on a pair of black pants. I sighed and made the off handed comment that I was fat, my stomach was too big and things just didn’t fit me anymore. I heard a small voice behind me say “mommy, you’re not fat.” I turned and stared at my 8 year old son holding hands with my 20 month old daughter.
My stomach dropped. These were words I never wanted either of my children to hear or say about themselves. I didn’t realize that by me body shaming myself, I was demonstrating to my children that it was normal to feel bad about your body.
It is more prevalent in our society than we think
My first experience with body shaming happened when I was in middle school. I had spent the day at a friend’s house where we had taken pictures of each other in typical pre-teen girl fashion. After a few days of waiting for the photos to be developed (yes, I’m old) my “friend” ended up bringing them into school. Up until this point I had never really thought anything was wrong with my body. I was athletic, enjoyed playing sports and never thought anything about the size of my clothing or the weight on a scale.
So imagine my surprise when my friend was showing these photos off to everyone in our class and laughing at the roll my stomach made over the top of my jeans while I was sitting down. I was crushed. Her and a couple of other girls showed these pictures to everyone, laughing and pointing out all my flaws. They even had the audacity to tell me that if I just ate less I could look like they did and not have the stomach roll over my jeans. I was 13.
I wish that I could say that I stood up to them, that I never spoke to them again after that day. But, sadly, I can’t. Instead, my problems with how I viewed my body begun.
Little did I know that these problems would carry on long into my adulthood. Through high school, college and two pregnancies, my body continually changed and made me feel insecure about one thing or another. Even to this day, I look in the mirror and am brought right back to that day in 5th grade where I was shamed for the way that my body looked.
Body shaming ends with us
That day I stared at my kids and realized that I would never want them to be shamed for their bodies or shame anyone else. Yet here I stood, being so incredibly hard on myself. At that moment I learned that in order to stop the body shaming cycle in my home, I needed to start with myself.
I needed to stop being so hard on myself and making comments that were detrimental to myself or my self esteem. I needed to stop judging others for what their bodies looked like or compare how I looked to someone else. It was time to start embracing how I looked and showing my children that everyone is unique in their own way.
Within the last couple of months I posted some of the above photos on instagram in an anti body shaming campaign that has been supported by so many. I hope that