I Was Body Shamed and It Still Hurts
Words can have an everlasting impact on your mental wellbeing.
I was in a terrible relationship with a not so kind guy in July 2016. I knew he wasn't the right person for me but for whatever reason I still wanted to be with him. We engaged in an innocent conversation on Snapchat about sports which escalated to the topic of butts...and it wasn't pleasant. He knew that I was a softball player and commented by saying "softball players have good booties". I laughed it off and agreed. But then he proceeded to tell me about how soccer girls and track girls have the "best butts". I was a little uncomfortable but still brushed that off as just being a guy thing to say. But when he belittled me, I was done. He sent me a meme that read "Squat, because no one ever wrote a song about a small butt" and told me that I should "improve upon mine". Now this guy was no Chris Evans nor any sort of body builder. He was your average teenage male at best. But that didn't matter. Whether he is a celebrity hunk or a typical college boy, no one has the right to denigrate others by body shaming them.
I was hurt for many reasons. First off, he was my boyfriend. When you date someone, you expect them to accept you for who you are - that goes without being said. He made me feel uncomfortable in my own skin for months to follow. I love leggings just as much as the next female but that summer, I avoided leggings, jeggings, and jeans like the plague. I resorted to wearing loose clothing like skirts and dresses. It was the summer, so it worked out but I didn't deserve to live like that. Every time I saw a female walk by I couldn't help but wonder, is she wearing that outfit by choice or was she forced to wear it because some jerk made her feel self-conscious? Why was I worrying about this ignorant comment instead of enjoying myself like everyone else?
But this newfound anxiety wasn't even the worst part. Nope. He had to go that extra step and gaslight my emotions as well. He did so by passing off his comment as being constructive. "Couples are supposed to help each other improve." We were an on and off couple, which implies the lack of stability so it's weird that he seemed so invested in my physical fitness all of a sudden. Also, how is having a bigger butt going to help me in anyway again? Sure, there's some muscular benefit involved, but nothing significant. No, the issue delved deeper. He had just objectified me and rendered me as a sexual object. His own girlfriend. And the worst part is that even though I initially approached him by being respectful and conveying how hurt I was, he remained stubborn. "I'm not apologizing, it's the truth." He was completely oblivious of his offensive remark and I had lost my patience so I decided to feed him a "truth" pill as well. He didn't take it so well and decided to swear at me - body shaming and name calling all in one day...yeah he was a real catch.
Although I am working on myself and trying to find validation from within, this incident still affects me. I am scared to be myself around other people whether it be with friends or potential boyfriends. I live in constant fear of being disrespected, objectified, and gaslighted. I know not all men are this impolite; however, I can't help but succumb to my anxiety of being body shamed. Still, I tell myself that I am not eye candy or a sexual object that exists solely for viewing pleasure. So for anyone going through this, eliminate this toxicity and find friends and activities who boost your self worth and value. Find positive sayings and recite them if needed. My mantra is: I am a smart, kind, compassionate young woman that has much to offer the world beyond my appearance.