There was once a confident woman who, after losing weight and finally felt good about her curves, decided to treat herself to a spot of retail therapy. Sashaying into the fitting room with two figure-hugging dresses, identical in every way but colour, she went to try both on.
As she was alone, she asked the two young female sales assistants to kindly help zip her up. Feeling quite glam, she proceeded to preen in front of the full-length mirror. Oh gosh, she thought, which one? Green or blue? Can I afford both? Probably not. Glancing over at the two girls, she caught their eyes wanting an opinion.
Girl number one: “I like the green. It’s much more flattering. It’s darker and more slimming.”
Girl number two: “No, no, the blue! All you need is a good, strong pair of those sucky-up undies to hold in your stomach and make your butt smaller and higher. A really, really skinny girl came in just before you and tried the SAME dress on and even SHE needs to wear Spanx with THIS dress!”
The woman stood there, fighting back tears. Dumbfounded, astounded and deflated. Eyes stinging with unshed tears, wishing for the ground to swallow her up. Her internal voice was screaming, Get me out of this dress. I don’t deserve to wear it, I look hideously obese. With as much pride as she could muster, she ripped off the dress and dumped it with the two cruel wenches. Not an eyelid was bat and they continued to spew their vitriol onto the next woman oblivious or uncaring to the distress they caused.
Is Fat Shaming the Norm?
As I hurried out (I’m sure you’ve figured out the woman is me), promising myself to never return to that shop, my thoughts turned from self-pity to compassion for those two young women. Their insensitivity wasn’t really about ME – it was about THEM. Since when was it okay to body shame other women? What kind of society had converted these young women to think and SPEAK such words? Is this what they are subject to by the media, society and other women? You don’t have to look far to be blasted with pictures and headlines containing the words ‘fat’ ‘skinny’ and various other synonyms. What effect is this having on our whole psyche? On the current and the next generation of women?
Bring on Healthy Conversations
I have three daughters. I fear that one day they will view their bodies in ugly words rather than by positive thoughts. Eating disorders are rife and can rob women (and men) of physical and mental health, joy and life. The mystery of genetics has delivered each of them very different HEALTHY body shapes. Will one of my precious daughters be taunted as being too ‘skinny’ or too ‘fat’ by another female, sending her into a spiral of self-loathing due to another person’s perception or hang up? NOT ON MY WATCH! We have a rule in my house. The ‘F’ word is not used and neither are the words ‘diet’ or ‘skinny’. We have an open, running dialogue about how every body is different and comes in all shapes and sizes. I’m proud to say I’ve done my job as a mum when I hear the girls talk about eating healthy food, exercising and having sometimes treats. The focus should and IS always on HEALTH!
Looking Beyond the Body
When we focus only on body shape, we become blinded to other factors that might be contributing. Genetics (which I mentioned before) plays a huge role. You can’t change the colour of your eyes just like you can’t change your height. Chronic illnesses affect body shape as well. Why should we shame a ‘skinny’ girl who eats well and exercises but whose body is fighting itself due to a chronic disease? Or a ‘fat’ girl who could be battling a hormonal imbalance? Before labelling and shaming, people should look a little deeper than the exterior. You just don’t know what people are fighting.
Let’s Put a Stop to Body Shaming
It is only through education and conversation that body shaming can be destroyed. It astounds and angers me that the term is in our everyday vernacular. Let’s RISE ABOVE and collectively unite to banish body shaming for good. Positivity, acceptance and tolerance are the keys to ensuring no woman is ashamed of her body. Let us all be reminded of how awesome, amazing and strong our bodies are and celebrate womankind. And if you’re ever in doubt, sing this loud sister: “I am strong, I am invincible I am woman!”