When I was younger, I struggled with my weight. I was a little on the chubby side, and definitely bigger than my classmates, but it never really bothered me. I was a happy kid. I loved life, and I even loved myself.
But to this day at 21 years old, I still remember sitting on the bus and watching two boys from my class look back at me and laugh. When they finally caught my eye, one boy said, "Hey, Theresa! You're fat. "
Fat. I had never used that word to describe myself before. But watching those two boys say it over and over again to my face, watching my peers laugh at me, I realized that suddenly, my body was not 'society-approved.' It was wrong to be fat; it was embarrassing to be fat; it was shameful to be fat.
That night was the first night I went home and cried to my parents because of the way I looked. Mind you, as a child with asthma, I had been on numerous steroids and medications that made me gain weight. I would grow out of the chubby stage one day. But none of that mattered to those two boys who pointed out that my body was considered less than ideal, and ultimately pulled the trigger and shot me into what would become a lifelong struggle with body image.
I'm not sharing this for pity. I'm sharing this because I accepted my body and was happy with how I looked until someone told me that I didn't look the way society wanted me to look. That I wasn't the thin ideal. And apparently, not having a flat stomach and a tiny waist was wrong. Even at eight years old.
Isn't that bothersome? That people can be happy with how they look until someone tells them otherwise? That one comment made as a child can affect someone decades later?
What we need to learn as a society is that being thin is not what's important; what's important is our health and our happiness, and most importantly, being kind to one another. I may not have a flat stomach, but I'm healthy. I have days where I hate the way I look, and I envy other girls' bodies, but I would never make anyone feel ashamed for the way they look just to make myself feel better. We have to make ourselves feel beautiful on our own and together as a society. Let's stop putting others down for such superficial, trivial things such as physical appearance, and instead, build each other up.
It only takes one comment to affect someone negatively for the rest of their life. Remember that before you speak to someone.