“Real women have curves.”
“Hahaha—those look like little kid pants!”
“You must eat nothing but salad.”
The above phrases are always said in good humor, right?
I mean, what kind of person—what kind of skinny person—gets offended for having somebody point out their coveted size and/or shape?
Growing up, I knew I was small but never thought much of it. My parents were both tall and overweight, but, as a gymnast, I was surrounded by leotard-clad girls, all my size.
When I entered high school, however, I became more aware of my weight. After all, my best friend was nearly 6 feet tall—and I hovered at 5’3 and weighed the same I did in 7th grade. We were certain to stand out!
Now—after marrying my handsome-but-thin husband and giving birth to my beautiful-yet-small son—it seems like, no matter how hard I try to just live in my body, I’m reminded of size.
In the year or so before I got pregnant, I despised my body. Truth be told, my insecurities were due to many other things, but taking it out on myself—my outer shell—was easier than looking within.
I’m 100% aware that fat shaming is an even more prevalent problem and that certain privileges come with being thin. People wrongly assume that fat = lazy, gluttonous, selfish, etc. and that thin = put-together, confident, self-controlled, and desirable.
I get that I have what’s commonly called a first world problem, and that many would love to be in my shoes—but I’m here to tell you none of that is a defense against hurt feelings.
It is hurtful when somebody assumes you have an eating disorder because you don’t gain weight.
It makes you feel less of a person when you, a grown woman, leave the fitting room empty-handed again because clothes hang off of you.
The kicker, though—is when you’re doing everything humanly possible to nourish the child growing inside of you—and people question your eating and exercise habits because you don’t look overwhelmingly pregnant!
Pregnancy—without a doubt—has been instrumental in healing my battle with my body.
Despite the criticism over how little weight I appeared to have gained (I actually gained 34 lbs!) and whether I could carry to term (just because I was “all baby”—seriously?), I knew I was giving my baby exactly what he needed. Childbirth and nursing have made this even more evident.
So why am I still writing?
Because my lesson on body-shaming isn’t over. My son, you see, inherited his parents’ genes. Although he’s babbling, smiling, moving, eating well, and doing all the things a healthy, active 10-month-old should do, he’s gaining weight slowly. As in, not-on-the-chart slowly.
My son is perfect in my eyes, but every day I question myself.
Is my milk not fatty enough? Is there some underlying issue we haven’t discovered? Am I failing my child because he’s not covered in squishy, edible rolls like most babies?
More than anything, I want my son to be confident.
I never want him to loathe his reflection. I want him to realize that healthy comes in all shapes and sizes.
There will come a day when somebody picks on him and makes him feel inferior because of his stature, but I’m determined not to be the catalyst for those feelings.
Skinny shaming is real, but we don’t have to perpetuate it.
Negative body image can be felt by anybody; it’s not our place to decide whether somebody’s insecurity is real or not.
It, is, however, our place to lift others up and assist in building the confidence one needs to look in the mirror and see a person of value. We can do that by stopping all types of body shaming and being mindful of our comments.