Yesterday, I stumbled upon a Buzzfeed about women responding to mean things people had said about their bodies. Generally, most people have been told something pretty harsh by someone by the time they reach the age of 10. Part of growing up is learning to deal with hazing by your peers, or even at times by those in authority. I have mixed feelings about this… while being hurtful is not cool, do we really need the sort of emotional anti-bacterial wiping of society that prevents people from developing thicker skin and the ability to cope with words?
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.
Not true. We all know it’s not true… Otherwise, those 18 women wouldn’t be holding up signs. Names hurt, but we move on, and we grow thicker skin, and hopefully as we grow older, we learn to love ourselves enough not to desperately need approval from outside sources.
Sometimes, though, that voice persists for years, and it weaves its way into the fabric of who you become, and when that voice becomes part of your internal dialogue, it prevents you from doing things you could otherwise accomplish.
I also came across this last night:
I love Laci Green. She is very wise for one so young.
So, here are some of the things people have said to me, and how I wish I had responded… Just for the fun of it, I’m going to include the approximate clothing size I was wearing at the time of the comment. I am 5’1″, to give you a visual…
“You realize you’re the fattest chick here.”
– Random frat boy
To be fair, I had just called his fraternity an ant hill. I was a size 7 to 9 at the time. I was at a party. What I wish I had said?
-“Yeah, so what’s your point exactly?”
Is there really anything that can be said when someone informs you that you are the fattest female at a party? The thing is, I probably wasn’t. I was probably the only sober person in that entire room, though.
“You’re smart, and you’re pretty, and you’re kind, and you really have a lot going on for you. If you could just lose weight…”
-Some guy with whom I had gone on a few dates
I was a size 12. I can’t believe I felt fat back then.
-“You’re really good looking. I can tell you work out on a regular basis, you’re at least intelligent enough to attend college. If only you had a soul…”
Being a bit of a wise-ass, I may actually have said something to that effect at the time. I don’t remember. The guy looked like he was straight off a magazine ad for cigarettes. He’s probably as wrinkled as a prune by now.
“Don’t cut your hair! It’s the prettiest thing about you! Besides, fat chicks don’t look good with short hair.”
– My husband at the time.
I was about a size 20-22 then. I had also given birth to three children, and pretty much did all the child rearing. At that point in our marriage, most of our conversations consisted of me talking, him staring at me and pretending to be interested, then hitting me up for sex.
-“If the only thing you find attractive about me is the length of the threadlike strands growing from the top of my head, I have to wonder why we are together.”
Add to each and every one of those:
“I deserve to be seen as more than the sum of my parts. I deserve to be listened to without having you dismiss me as someone who is either fuckable or not.”
I’ve noticed a trend, when online discussions get heated, for people to take pot shots at others on a more personal level, to make cracks at someone’s physical appearance or to accuse someone of “attention seeking.” Okay, fair enough – I suppose on some level, the fact that I am willing to interact with other human beings through the distant media of the internet, to converse with people I really don’t know, makes me attention seeking.
Ah well, I suppose we all get over these things eventually. These days, my response to any personal insult is typically, “Yeah, and?” Sure. I’m fat. Sure, I’m an attention whore. Sure, I am not absolutely flawless.