May 16, 2017 Lisa Austin

Body Shaming – Are you sure you aren’t guilty of it?

Do you ever notice how things just kinda show up when you need to read them ( or see them, hear them, whatever)? Today is one of those days and this just happened to show up in my newsfeed:

“Sometimes you gotta keep it real.

When you grow up, you realize that being an adult means confronting truths that are often unpalatable.

For instance: There is no Santa Claus, some people are just poopyheads, and you don’t always get whatever you want.”

… and sometimes people are just people and we just REACT instead of RESPONDING.

 

A couple of weeks ago a situation arose, I reacted and that’s not something that I normally do. I will say, that everybody gets to a point where their guard is down and an invisible line gets crossed.

It started out pretty innocent, by me sharing a post about being totally impressed about how much food I got for $17. That turned into someone asking me if I eat meat. That caught me off-guard, I didn’t understand the question, and I answered that yes, I eat meat and lots of other foods. A long story short, I overreacted.

It was brought to my attention that some of my comments could have been taken as ‘fat shaming’ her. If anybody knows me, knows that I would never ever do that to someone. I’ve been on the receiving end of being overweight and body shamed; and I am now on the receiving end of being skinny shamed.

 

Body shaming doesn’t care what you look like.

Body shaming comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s not just directed to larger women and men, it’s also directed to people who on the other end of the spectrum.

“Why don’t you just eat a cheeseburger and fries already”.

“Do you eat ____?”

“Hey skinny minnie…”

No one would want to be called something that has a negative connotation, nor do they want to be told eat or not eat foods.

 

It would never be acceptable for someone to say…

“Why don’t you just eat a salad.”

“Hey, fatty patty…

Of course not.

I know that if someone walked up to me and said “hey, skinny minnie, how are you”, is not deliberately trying to hurt my feelings… but it did.

 

Here’s why it bothered me.

 

For the last four years I have been dealing with GI issues and if you have ever tried to see a specialist, you will know that appointments are rare due to the doctor’s busy schedule. When you factor in the trial and error involved when you are trying something, seeing if it works, then waiting six months or longer for another appointment to try something new, progress is at a snail’s pace. Currently, I am on an elimination diet because I am reacting to almost everything I eat. My choices are extremely limited and my energy level is a fraction to what it normally is. Needless to say, I have lost weight. I am not happy with how I feel or how I look. Having someone greet me as ‘Skinny minnie’ or another telling me I need to eat a cheeseburger is insulting and hurtful.

I tell you this story, because I’m sure that if you knew, you would never make comments like that to someone, no one deliberately wants to upset someone else.

 

We come by it honestly

As a society, we judge people by their appearance, good or bad, it’s what happens.

“Hey Jane, you lost weight, you look good!”

We say it even if it’s not true. Why do we do that? What if she was sick? What if she lost so much weight she no longer looked healthy? What does healthy really look like?

I can be guilty of it too and I am very aware of my language around people but I can inadvertently mess up and upset someone too.

Would you ever hear someone say… “ hey John, you gained few pounds. Be careful, you don’t want to let yourself go. You won’t look good anymore.”

UGH! NO!

 

 

Have you ever wondered or thought about where these thought patterns come from?

 

I will tell you, they are ingrained in us from our experiences from the time we are babies. It’s on the TV, magazines, billboards, and we see it at home as we grow.

I know my life growing up shaped my views on ‘normal’ and ‘beautiful’.  I remember I was told by my mom that I had ‘shapely’ legs. My sisters were taller than me and they called me ‘fat, ugly, and stupid’ as a child. I used to associate curves with fat so no matter what I did, I couldn’t get skinny enough.

That started a roller coaster, with my weight and issues with my health, not to mention the bouts of depression and anxiety. At one point, I was one stage away from cancer. They caught it in time and were able to remove it, thankfully. I was told then, it wasn’t a matter of IF it would come back, but a matter of WHEN if I didn’t change my lifestyle. I also had pneumonia three years in a row… but I was thin at the time!

In the past, I have been anorexic and bulimic at different points because I was trying desperately to lose weight and have some control over my life. I also spent most of my life being a victim of abuse. I went up and down on the scale trying desperately to be attractive and fit in. In 2009, I was in a car accident and I hurt all the soft tissue in my back and for almost a year I was in so much pain that I couldn’t stand myself and I’d gained all of the weight I’d lost, back and then some.

That is basically when I decided that enough is enough and it can’t be as complicated as I’ve been making it out to be; so I decided I was going to change things. I made the decision to get educated.

 

I am now the thinnest, most muscular and the most confident strong woman as I have ever been. I know what it takes to overcome some of the emotional scars we carry. I still struggle with body image every now and then, but now it’s for different reasons.

 

I know firsthand how awful it is to be shamed for your size, how you eat or how you look. I would not intentionally do that to somebody else.

 

SKINNY shaming is just a bad a FAT shaming and is a REAL thing.
I do my absolute best to ‘walk the walk’ and help people learn to love themselves, take baby steps to improve their health, and build their emotional and physical strength. I believe in building people up and not breaking them down.

True BEAUTY and good HEALTH come in all shapes and sizes It’s OK to have a goal to lose weight if it’s for the right reasons. Don’t ever let your self-worth be wrapped up in a number on the scale or the size of your clothes you are so much more than that.

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