Many of you reading this know my opinions on body shaming and that I don’t view those who do it with kind eyes. In fact, I hate those who body shame regardless of how ‘good’ of a person they may be in other areas. To me, body shaming is just wrong and it doesn’t matter who it is directed toward. After writing my body-shaming article taking on a well-known published author, I felt good about my actions and myself. I thought, “Yes, I’m going to end fat shaming one person at a time!”
This feeling carried on with me for a few weeks, maybe even a month, as I continued to write about eating disorders and addiction. I didn’t think much of it, other than to respond to a few people who had body shamed others on Twitter or Facebook. It wasn’t until a random person added me that I faced body-shaming head on for the first time in a while.
Needless to say, this person was very cruel towards me… a complete stranger. I won’t state any names, but
the person who did this to me was completely and utterly ruthless when it came to calling me names. He felt the need to tell me that my “fat face probably matches the rest of my fat body,” and that I look like a “beached whale”. Just to list a couple of the things that were said to me that night. I’m not sure if it was because I refused to take new pictures for him (a weird guy that I don’t even know) or if it was because he just enjoyed hurting people. Either way, being fat shamed for the first time since I was a kid absolutely destroyed me.
I felt like I was back in my chubby child’s body, pudgy and looking for food. I couldn’t believe a stranger had reduced me to my old, sad self. Being a heavy kid, I was often teased about being fat. Although most of it was behind my back, I still knew it was going on. Even if it wasn’t all to my face, the stuff my friends said behind my back hurt the most. I grew to hate myself as much as they hated me. So I ventured on my first diet, the one that led me to where I am now: bulimia.
Sitting at my laptop reading these harsh words brought me back to that fear and sadness I often felt as a kid growing up. I automatically got up and looked in the mirror, making sure I wasn’t 500 pounds. I couldn’t tell. So then I wished I hadn’t stopped weighing myself. But mirrors lies and scales bend the truth. I stared at myself, disgusted once more, and went back to reading the horrors of fat shaming.
I ended up crying myself to sleep that night, something that I am ashamed of now. I didn’t follow my meal plan the next day, opting instead to not eat anything. Something else I am now ashamed of. And when I slipped up, I took care of it the way I normally do, by purging it all away. It wasn’t until I started to talk about it at my support groups that I felt better. After reflecting on it, there are some sad truths that I have come across. These truths, unfortunately, plague many women, children, and increasingly more men as well.
Being in treatment for my eating disorder means that losing weight and dieting is no longer part of my daily routine. Often times, it is hard to fight. It means that I am now eating more regularly. I am also no longer over exercising or abusing drugs in order to keep my weight down. So, of course, I have gained a bit of weight since entering treatment. It’s this weight gain that made me so vulnerable to his attacks. Had I been thin like I used to be, I probably wouldn’t have been attacked in the first place. I know this is disordered thinking, but I can’t help it. When random people tell you how ugly and fat you are, you may tend to take it to heart, especially if you already struggle with self-esteem and weight issues.
The sad truth is that I shouldn’t have to justify my weight to anyone or explain why I may have gained or lost weight. It shouldn’t concern anyone but me. And even then, it shouldn’t bother me either. Weight is just a number. It’s not a value of worth. It is simply a scientific measurement and shouldn’t be the business of anyone else. Why do people get so caught up over who weighs what and who lost/gained what? I am guilty of it too, but at least I don’t actually judge these people for being a certain weight. Or rather, for
not being a certain weight. I care because a sick part of me is obsessed with being as thin as possible. That part of me isn’t healthy, nor is it healthy for anyone else to be so preoccupied with weight.
Furthermore, judging others opens the door to judging ourselves more harshly. We are our own worst critics; we don’t need others to judge us on top of the horrible things we already say to ourselves. In fact, we shouldn’t even allow ourselves to be so horrible about our own bodies. Why can’t we learn to love ourselves? Loving our bodies and ourselves may just be the door to loving others and ending body shaming.
Many of you may think that it’s okay to body shame once in a while because you don’t know the person you’re doing it to. You are wrong. Someone out there is reading your harsh words, pictures and comments while taking them to heart, like me. They may even struggle with an eating disorder like I do and your body shaming may cause them to purge (or take an extra diet pill or run an extra mile). And because eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any other mental illness, you may even be the one who kills them.
So remember, everyone out there is a person and every person is worth love, respect, and kindness. Please think before you speak or type. Don’t let your words be the death of someone else. Instead, opt for silences or kindness. You may just save a life or brighten someone’s day.
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