Growing up is hard enough without the offhanded comments about your growing and changing body. Though society is making strides in body acceptance and body positivity, children still struggle with body image issues daily thanks to these one-off remarks. Whether it’s from family members, peers, or the media, there are certain comments you hear about your body growing up that you should ignore.
When you’re young and still growing, your mind is malleable. You’re shaping your opinions about the world, the best boy band, your style, yourself. As an overweight kid, I faced my fair share of body shaming and criticism. Lucky for me, I went through my teen years armed with a quick wit and the ability to act my way out of anything. So when one of my peers dubbed me a fat clown, I shot back, “At least I’m funny.” Even though our crowd of peers deemed me the winner of the altercation, I went home feeling unworthy, sad, and ashamed of my body. I spent years feeling that way behind closed doors, grappling with what it meant to dislike the skin I was in. Over a decade later, recalling the story still makes me nauseous. I loved myself, but I didn’t love my body. As it turns out, the two are kind of mutually exclusive.
Ignoring the comments other people lay on you isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s the first step on your way to body positivity and freedom from negativity. Looking back on the things you heard about your body as a child can help you reshape your own body dialogue, and maybe help another person do the same.
"You're Too Skinny/Fat/Ugly"
There is no such thing as being "too" anything. Fat people can run races and skinny people can eat entire pizzas in one sitting. Take the voices from your childhood that told you you were too much of one thing, and throw them out the window. Physical characteristics do not define a person. Anyone who thinks so, isn't worth your time or memory.
"Should You Be Eating That?"
Is there anything worse than the judgmental glare of a friend or relative when you're trying to enjoy a well-deserved milkshake? Yes, I should be eating this. Because I want to. And I do what I want. Should you be judging me for what I'm eating? No, no you should not. Keep to your own plate, friend.
"Eat A Sandwich"
Just as chubby girls are hurt by people judging them for what they eat, so are skinny girls. Telling a lanky young girl who might not fit your perceived stereotype for what qualifies as a womanly body to eat a sandwich is harmful. It doesn't help. It's still body shaming.
"You Would Look So Good If..."
You lost a few pounds, exercised once in a while, wore less revealing clothes, had boobs, had a smaller butt. The list goes on and one. The truth is, you are attractive just the way you are. All bodies are beautiful bodies.
"A Moment On The Lips, Forever On The Hips"
I have a particularly terrible family member who would say this to me any time I reached for a windmill cookie. (Side note, have you ever had a windmill cookie? The deliciousness is unreal.) Adages like this one don't encourage people to make healthier choices. In my experience, they encourage me to stuff more windmill cookies in my face out of spite.
"Have You Thought About The ___ Diet?"
The Atkins Diet was in its heydey while I was growing up, and I even tried it for a while. Suggesting that someone, especially someone amidst bodily changes and in the prime of self esteem crashes, go on a diet? Oh, hell no.
"That Outfit Makes You Look So Skinny."
Young girls spend countless hours in their closets, finding their personal style, and learning what they like, and don't like. Don't taint a certain style of clothing by associating with looking a certain way. Wear what you like, when you like, because you like it. Not because someone told you it made you look skinny, or that it hid your flaws.
"I Bet He'd Like You If You Lost Some Weight"
Growing up, I had a few of my girlfriends sit me down and tell me they all thought that I was a wonderful person, but that my crush would pay me more attention to me if I lost some weight. Fast forward two years, add ten pounds, and that crush was my boyfriend. Teaching young girls that their worth (be it personal or to others) is dependent upon their weight is an absolutely horrible, horrible thing to do. And the right person for you will not love you for your physical attributes.
"You're Wearing That?"
So often, kids are body shamed for wearing a certain type of clothing. Whether it's an outfit that's not gender-normative, or an outfit that someone deems inappropriate, the appropriate reaction is not to issue a judgmental quip. You're wearing that? Why yes, I am. Because it makes me feel great inside and out, thank you very much.