Body shaming is not OK, no NEVER!
Yesterday was a dark day for me. I was body shamed by a person in a leadership position at the gym that I work from in front of another colleague. Of course I didn't stand for it and I called her out on her discriminatory behaviour there and then, putting her on the spot. Her phone rang and I couldn't finish the discussion but I made a point of it to send her a comprehensive message about why I thought it was not OK for her to comment on my body (or anyone else's body for that matter). To her credit, she did apologise in a humble manner and things are fine between us now. I actually like this person and I certainly don't believe in carrying grudges. But since we are not friends, I don't hold her opinion in high regard anyway, so all and all I should have been able to put the incident behind me quite easily.
What I wasn't quite prepared for in the aftermath of this incident is how absolute crap I felt about myself the whole day. Every bad memory of fat shaming that I was subjected to throughout my life came flooding back like waves of thick, disgusting bile. I remembered incidents from primary school, from high school and from my early twenties. Faces and words from different people came flooding back, some were family and friends, others were just mean bullies I hardly knew. The most toxic memories I had were those of dissecting and comparing the size of my body as each of these incidents replayed themselves in my mind. I was saddened by the fact that at most of those times in my life when I was shamed for my size or shape I wasn't nearly as big as I would still get later in life. Just like I am not the biggest I've been right now, even though someone looked at me and thought it her right to comment on the size of my belly.
Today, as I'm sitting in the ashes of what I thought was stuff I have dealt with and which I regarded as done and dusted, I am once again amazed and a little disappointed in the frailty of the human psyche. I am aghast at the realisation that the worst fat shaming incidents occurred not when I was at my biggest, but that it was at random times throughout my life at different stages of being the biggest girl in whatever scenario I was finding myself at the time. What is even more bizarre is that I can pull out photos of myself at the time when shaming occurred and you will shake your head in disbelief that the person staring back at you could have been the subject of any such shaming. What is very different this time around is my awareness of the BULL SHIT that we are fed on a daily basis. And this BS is the stuff we program our minds with into creating our reality, a reality that we often have to live with for a life time. Let me tell you now, beautiful, amazing woman reading this: just because someone says something to you without thinking it through, doesn't make it true. And even if there is some truth to the words when someone body shames you, you DO NOT HAVE TO internalise that shit. You can choose to be everything your heart desires, you can realise your dreams and goals and you can do all of that while being in the body you have right now!! Do you hear me?
I want to shout it out from the mountain tops so loud, over and over again until everyone gets it. I AM NOT MY BODY!! I am so much more than a shape or a size, I am certainly so much more than your perception of me when you look at my bulging belly or the size of my arms. You are also wrong in your assumption of my lifestyle, my eating habits and my exercise routine. And even if I did choose the life of a sloth, I still have an absolute insurmountable amount of value to add in terms of my brilliant mind, my creative ideas, my passion for life, my kindness towards my fellow human beings, my love of nature and protecting this earth, my desire to help women love themselves and I could go on and on. I am a multi-faceted, technicolored, amazing human being with a vision so bright, it will blind you.
I want to emphasise the fact that we are all human and we make mistakes daily in the way we communicate or interact with others. But I want to urge you to please become aware of the way you speak to others about their bodies. You honestly NEVER have the right to comment on someone's body, not as a joke, not because you think you are helping, certainly not because you are wanting to openly criticise someone's shape. If you are the type of person who wouldn't criticise the colour of someone's skin or sexual preference, then also become the type of person who never judges body size or flaws. We are all infinitely more than the outer shell visible to the world. Be the change.