Almost every woman I know can remember the important stuff that shaped them, the good, bad and insensitive. Our self esteem can be affected by many things, some are internal forces and the rest…well the rest are usually from rage, jealousy, hate and dumbass comments, oh, and the ‘up and down’ glance.
Can you believe I received that glance yesterday? Sure did! I was entering a cafe and a young girl (all of 16 ) looked me up and down. Judgement. There was no smile either. For one second I was all ‘what the hell is she looking at?’ Then I remembered I’m totally cool with who I am and strutted by.
Do you remember the first insensitive comment that made you look at your body differently?
I do. I was eleven and standing at the end of my parents bed having a morning chat. I was wearing a terry toweling play suit, it was lemon. God I loved that play suit, tie up straps and a palm tree motif, I thought I was ‘it and a bit’. In fact I believed I was it and a bit.
Then my father commented that my arse was getting big. He warned me to eat less as I was going to get fat. I remember feeling shocked, I hadn’t even realised I had an arse, and that it mattered if it was round or flat and what was this ‘fat’ business he spoke of?
Why did ‘he’ have to be the one to tell me? It felt so critical and instantly I felt shame.
That what criticism does, it injects shame.
I was eleven and what I now know is that I was supposed to be getting curves, I was hormonal and on the cusp of puberty. By the time I was twelve I was wearing my first bra because, hormones. That first body criticism comment has stayed with me my whole life.
I didn’t have daughters, I’m blessed with two sons. Both have had their own body image issues over the years but the nasty comments didn’t come from my mouth. I’ve been careful with the words I’ve used, for them and for their future partners.
I didn’t want to crumple their confidence and have them think it’s ok to pass judgement on others either.
It starts with me, as their parent I should build them up, give them the armour to get through life. Body shaming your child or someone you love is just not on.
Being criticised and teased can be very hurtful, it doesn’t only affect body image but overall self image. Instead try a little reassurance, it goes a long way.
A healthy body image is about appreciating and liking your body, feeling grateful for all it can do.
It took me decades to completely appreciate and love my body, these days I’m kinder to it and use kinder words when talking about my body. When we can do that then we can pass on the gift to others (including our children), and what a gift 🙂
These days I understand that my father most likely had no idea of the power his words had over me, how they changed me. He didn’t realise that I thought I was ok. So I let that shit go, that’s part of gaining healthy self esteem. Let it go.
Do you remember the first time your body was criticised? Did it change you?