11 Ways You Were Body Shamed As A Child, That You Should Never Pass Onto Your Kid
Body shaming hurts. It hurts when you’re five and told not to have an extra cupcake at your friend’s birthday. It hurts when you’re 25 and postpartum and asked when you’re planning on losing the "baby fat." It hurts when you’re struggling with a secret eating disorder and it hurts when you’re told that the way you dressed is what prompted your assault. I think it’s wonderful that, as a society, we’re finally starting to have real conversations about all the ways body shaming hurts. More importantly, it’s essential that we stop body shaming kids the way we were shamed, ourselves. It’s the only way to break the cycle. It's, honestly, the only way to stop the hurt.
There are many ways that society body shames women; as mothers and daughters and lovers and sexual assault survivors and random people just trying to walk to work every morning. It's heartbreaking, but evidence that constant criticism of our bodies can be found all around us. From the way clothing is sized to the headlines on grocery aisle magazine covers, we are constantly told that we’re "too big" or "too small" or "too round" or "too flat" or, essentially, "too human."
In the end, and after battling body shaming myself, I have learned and made a constant effort to remind myself that we are all perfect, just the way we are. As a feminist mom, I am also constantly striving to create a society for my child that is body and size-inclusive, free of misogynistic and fat-phobic ideas of what bodies should look like. These are just some of the ways many of us encountered body shame that, I hope, we don’t plan on teaching our own kids. I know I don't.
Having Your Body Compared To That Of Your Friends
Being compared to anyone else is the worst, no matter what age you are or when this happens or how ridiculous that comparison may be. When you’re a kid, however, you don’t really have the fortitude to understand that the person who is doing the comparing is wrong, not the people arbitrarily being compared. As a feminist mom, I won’t be comparing my son to his friends. Not his body, not his mind, not anything.
Always Getting Praise When You Lost Weight
I don’t think I’ve ever been congratulated for gaining a few pounds, but people always seem to notice when I lose. In fact, sometimes I still seek out this supposed “positive” praise, even though I know better and have made it a goal to try and be better. I know it shouldn’t and doesn’t matter, but these ideas are so ingrained that, sometimes, it's hard to see the forest through the trees. If your child is struggling with obesity, there are better ways to encourage better fitness habits.
Being Told To “Suck It In”
I’ve always had a bit of a "gut," so I’ve always been told to "suck it in" for photos or whenever I was going to stand in front of an audience. It wasn’t until recently that I started really making amends and loving my protruding belly. Really, why say this to a kid? What does it accomplish?
Having Your Meal Choices Questioned...
Meals should probably be approached like the SATs. Eyes on your own paper or, in this instance, eyes on your own meal. Telling someone their meal looks tasty is fine. Telling them that what they’re eating looks “fatty” or “unhealthy” or “greasy," on the other hand, ain’t cool or helpful or anything other than judgmental.
...And Being "Forbidden" From Eating Certain Things
As a kid, it’s easier for others to have control over what you eat. Usually it's parents or guardians calling the shots, and it isn’t exactly rare to see an overbearing parent snatch a cupcake from a child’s hand because they don’t want them to “get fat." Cupcakes (or any other sweet and unless there's an immediate and unique health concern) are fine in moderation, and if a parent is concerned with their child getting, say, too much sugar (a more important concern), they might want to simply keep sweets to a minimum at home, rather than shaming them at a friend’s birthday party.
Being Told That You Might Want To Wear Clothing More Suited To Your “Body Type”
I used to think crop tops were only for very thin girls. Turns out, my body won’t melt if I put one on. Who would’ve thought, right? I know I've heard many people talk about what one should and shouldn’t wear, and that it was basically always OK for skinny girls to wear basically everything and anything they wanted. This is wrong on so many levels.
Being Told That Your Body Looked Too Much Like The Opposite Gender
As a small-breasted woman, who was once a not-as-confident small-breasted tween, I had some folks shame me for my, er, lack of attributes. While looking “like a boy” isn’t technically a bad thing, the way those particular people meant that statement to be received, was. Maybe if people began opening their minds to the point that they think outside of our society's traditional gender roles, these kinds of “put downs” would finally be over and done with.
Listening To “Fat Jokes” Or Other Body Shaming Comments That Just Weren’t Funny
I’m really selective when it comes to "humor,: and this might stem from all the negative “jokes” I heard as a kid, that were basically just ways for bullies to humiliate others. It wasn’t cool then, isn’t cool now. Don’t make those jokes, and especially not at your own child’s expense. Honestly, those jokes are the ultimate form of laziness.
When People Compared Your Body To Foods Or Animals
This ties into the jokes about calling someone a “cow” or a “pig,” but also talking about folks being round or looking like apples. Why all these bizarre comparisons? Who cares? It doesn't make any sense. Stop doing it.
When Others Constantly Harped On About Their Diets
Listening to adults obsess about their diets makes kids feel like there’s a reason they should be dieting. Kids are observant as hell and this can set the groundwork for unhealthy eating habits and their future relationship with food and even eating disorders.
Being Forced To Change What You Wore For Someone Else’s “Benefit”
This seems to usually start out with school dress code policies, which are inherently sexist, not to mention racist and classist and so damn wrong I can't even. People want you to change what you wear, how you do your hair and make-up,and for what? This is basically telling a child that there is something wrong with how they look, and there isn't a child in the world who needs (or deserves) to hear that message.