I went to Cornwall last week. Knowing that we would be spending time on the beach, I needed a new swimming costume. If you follow me on Twitter, you will be aware that I am having a few body hang ups at the moment. However, inspired by the wonderful Fuller Figure Fuller Bust blog, I decided that having a post baby body wasn’t going to put me off wearing a bikini and I bought a very flattering, 50s style bikini. And I wore it.
No one ran screaming and I felt pretty good.
I was walking back from the train station and a car drew up alongside me, slowing down. A young man stuck his head out of the window.
Then he drove off.
I was extremely upset and walked home close to tears, dissolving into sobs when I got in.
I know, I shouldn’t care what people think. But it’s very easy to tell yourself you shouldn’t care, the reality is that when it happens, it is extremely hurtful. As I mentioned, I have body hang up issues at the moment. I can think up snappy retorts, I can tell myself that people are arseholes, I can tell myself their opinion is worth nothing to me.
Fact of the matter is, it still hurts.
When I got home, child of the Facebook generation that I am, I posted about it in a status update and received messages of support, mixed with shock that people can be so damn horrible.
So what is bodyshaming?
The internet has various definitions, but I define it as the following:
The act of making someone feel humiliated and ashamed of their body.
Now, before I go further, I would like to say that I am not glorifying obesity. I’m also not glorifying being super skinny. If you have health problems due to a very high or very low body weight (or any reason for that matter), then yes, that should be addressed for the good of your health, ideally with the support of a healthcare professional.
But whether obese, skinny, big boobed, short, tall, flat chested, male, female, blonde, ginger, black, white, no one should ever make you feel humiliated and ashamed of how you look.
You certainly shouldn’t feel you have to change your appearance, or that something is wrong with you just because you don’t conform to the expectations of an individual who doesn’t have a grasp of common courtesy.
It’s really easy to flick through a celebrity magazine and think “oh, she’s been eating a few too many pies recently”. Based on the number of people who think it’s ok to shout derogatory insults at people on the streets due to their appearance, this is easy to do as well. But why do it? Is it because someone doesn’t conform to what are fairly narrow standards of beauty? Or is it because some people are simply arseholes who get a kick out of making strangers cry? Why not stop to consider whether there is a reason behind it? In those few seconds of seeing someone and yelling an insult, do you know everything about them? How would you feel if the tables were turned on you?
If you yell “fatty” at someone and they really are overweight, they most likely know about it and don’t need derogatory comments yelled after them to make them feel worse. How do you know that they aren’t already doing something about it? Being fat or thin doesn’t make someone any less of a person. Perhaps that girl you yelled “fatty” after has not long had a baby, like I have done. Perhaps that person has just shed 3 stone of weight and is really proud of themselves. Maybe that person has an illness. Maybe they already know and they are out walking to do something about it. Or maybe they aren’t fat at all, they just don’t conform to your expectation. Perhaps they’re healthy and happy. Whatever. Don’t be an arse. Don’t shout insults. After anyone.
You know why?
It’s none of your fucking business.
To be continued…