In October, Collin and I hosted my younger cousins for a family sleepover. They range in ages 5-13, two boys and three girls. Ellie, the youngest one, was playing an imaginary game using Hatchimals. I joined in and so did my 11 year old cousin Grace (she was 10 at the time). Ellie didn't have enough Hatchimals so we were using these clay marbles as our players. She asked Grace and me what the names of our players were. I quickly came up with a random name, and said "Lisa." Grace looked at her marble, and blurted out "my name is fat." You see, Grace's marble was slightly larger than the other marbles.
Later that night, my 13 year old cousin Kaylee decided to get comfy and put on her sweats. She said, "I brought the pair you gave me but we had to cut the string out because I'm definitely not as skinny as you."
You guys, both of these instances were like stabs to my heart. First, it made me realize that I am not ready to be a parent in such a harsh world. Second, it reminded me that we as women are trained to look at bodies and utilize certain terms to describe them. While there are many movements focused on body positivity, it's clear that body shaming is still very much relevant and it starts at a young age.
All my life I've heard comments like:
- "You're too/so skinny."
- "You need to eat a cheeseburger."
- "You look good in everything because you're thin." (This one drives me nuts.)
- "You're so skinny-minnie."
- "Do you even eat?"
- "When I hug you, I just feel bones."
- "You're so boney."
All of these comments are assumptions on my health and my body. What you probably don't know:
- My genes have a lot to do with my size. My parents are fairly petite.
- For about five years, I was sick to my stomach about 4 times a week due to a gluten sensitivity I didn't know I had.
- I'm gluten free now.
- I don't drink soda because I don't like it. In fact, I drink mostly water.
- I danced, cheered, or did show choir since age 3. I've always been active.
- I do some type of exercise 3 times a week now.
- My eating habits involve a lot of rice and gluten free noodles. But generally, I eat healthy because I just feel better when I do.
When you're standing naked in front of the mirror, what do you say to yourself? My guess is that you're pointing out every small flaw you could think of. Maybe not, but I can tell you that sometimes I let negativity get the best of me. My hips are uneven due to scoliosis. My boobs are different sizes. I wish I had that pretty olive skin tone. I would love to have a visible six pack, but that's probably not in the cards.
Our media has aided in setting societal standards that all of us compare our bodies to. I'm not sure if we will ever get past all of it, but my goal is to help you be conscious of your thoughts and words when it comes to your body and others. Last week, I asked you guys on Instagram to send me positive and negative words that you hear so I've rounded those up below.
While this list is certainly not exhaustive, I wanted to share the feedback I received from my followers.
A couple of other comments I wanted to bring attention to:
- "I hate it when people tell me I have a pretty face. All I hear is that my face is pretty, but the rest of me is not."
- "I don't think I've gone a week of my life without people commenting on how skinny I am. I just wish people were more aware of their wording about women's bodies or stopped pointing them out in general."
Which brings me to my final point: that we should be commenting on character traits instead of bodies. I think the reason we generally don't is because we notice the physical aspects before the personality. But what if that thought process was reversed?
What if instead of commenting on bodies, we commented on her confidence, her beauty, her work ethic, and so forth. What if when you look in the mirror you complimented yourself instead of criticizing your body.
So my challenges to you are:
- Before you walk out the door every morning, look in the mirror and give yourself three positive comments. I don't care if it's "Self, good job on sleeping through the night" or "Self, you look fabulous today." Just find 3 positive things and actually say them out loud.
- The next time you go to describe someone's body, think twice. Either describe something about their personality or utilize a positive term.
- We are role models for the next generation. Help us raise strong, confident women that think of their bodies second to their characterisitics to define themselves.
Our minds are powerful beings. When we think positively, it completely changes how we view ourselves and the world around us. It even helps us with productivity and happiness.
In the comments below, tell me what you love about yourself.
Cheers to celebrating women and focusing on positivity.