My 11 year old daughter came home last month, crying, because you told her she was fat and ugly. With her blonde hair, blue eyes, 5’4″, 100lb frame, she sobbed in my arms. And it’s not because there is any truth in your words~~ she is far from fat, and far from being ugly. No, what you did, by calling her fat, by calling her ugly, was open the door to a whole new world, that my little girl never knew before. That she would be judged on the way she looked. That someone could make her feel as though she didn’t matter, her feelings didn’t matter, her love didn’t count. Because you called her fat.
I remember those days. I was in grade 6 the first time a boy called me fat. In fact he told me that I should try and sit in the shade because my lard would start to melt if I were to sit in the sun. I was 12. I sat under the trees and cried. That was the first incident.
The following year, puberty set in. I grew boobs that I tried to hide (but couldn’t as I seemed to go to a D cup overnight) and my hips got wider. I grew what people called ‘baby fat’. I was at that awkward pre-teen age… not comfortable in my own skin as it was changing so rapidly.
At summer camp, I overheard a boy telling his friends that I was the ugliest dog (woof woof) that he had ever seen. By this time, thoughts of my ‘fatness’ were becoming increasingly greater, and being told now that I was ugly as well, broke my heart a little bit more.
In grade 8, I decided to start to diet. I wanted to be liked, to be included. I would have boyfriends now and again, but if we broke up, I was suddenly Fat. Ugly.
Half way through the year, I tried starving myself. It didn’t work too well. I liked food too much. So then I decided to stick my finger down my throat. This only lasted a few days before my parents caught on to what I was doing and had me stop.
I went to counselling then. I spoke to a lady who made me close my eyes and walk towards a beautiful stream. All the while, I wanted to scream, ‘This isn’t going to make me skinny! This isn’t going to make me loved!’. I quit going after that.
High school I thought may be different. Boys are more mature then, right? It turned out not. I was still fat, so why would they mature?
My depression grew, my body shaming/body hating grew. Time after time, if I had a crush on someone I would be teased that I would never ‘get him’ because I was ‘too fat’. When a boy gave me attention, I would let him do whatever he wanted, because in my mind, I must be okay enough for him.
When I got into my first long term relationship, my boyfriend told me that I was fine enough, but if I was to get any fatter he would have to leave me.
Do you see a pattern here?
I am not trying to get any sympathy. In fact, my own struggles with body image, self esteem have gone from sadness, to anger, to revenge to empowerment. I, too, have been caught up in the moment of wanting to be cool, to be liked, and called others’ fat, ugly, etc, and then hated myself for months for doing so.
You see, young man who called my daughter fat, what you have done, is followed in the footsteps of every man/woman/child before you, who believes that the way we look (whether that be up to the standards or not) should define who we are as a person. That the way our bodies have been created, in all of their perfection, is somehow wrong.
And what have you done to my daughter?
You crushed her a little at first. But, given the fact that I have been down this road before of being hated on for my body, I was able to talk to her. I was able to point out to her all of the beautiful things her body can do (she’s athletic, a fast runner, a great gymnast, she can dance, and swim, and walk~~ she has no limitations, unless she gives them to herself) and all of the great things her body will do (have first kisses, explore the world, have babies, etc).
We were able to have a heart to heart talk about bullying, about being proud of the skin you’re in, and about loving the hell out of our bodies. We were able to do some healing together, and move from tears to giggles.
I don’t know the hurt that you have gone through, young man. I don’t know where you get your societal beliefs of what a woman’s body should look like. I can only pray, that your mother, your sister, your wife, your daughter, never have to look in the mirror and hate the way they look, starve themselves to be thin, or cry themselves to sleep because of the standards that you, and the society around you has placed on them.
My daughter will be fine. She’s a tough one. Just like her mother. And she will raise a daughter of her own, who I hope never hears the same judgement on her own body. Some day it will change. It has to. Otherwise, what are we actually learning from the history that continues to repeat itself?