I was reading an article by UpWorthy today, regarding a sad hashtag that had taken root for people to share their body-shaming history with the world. It was called #theysaid, and the hateful things people have said to us, often under the guise of caring or concern, broke my heart, especially when it was said to very young girls. I started going through my history on Facebook, encouraged by another brave friend doing the same, and ended up remembering some of the more shocking and upsetting things that were said to me, stuff I normally keep buried because that’s where truly hurtful stuff belongs.
Suffice it to say if I had a nickel for every time they said what #theysaid, I’d have a shit-ton of nickels; enough to fill a sock and bonk people on the head with it. I walk around a public invitation for their oh-so-helpful advice and critique. Whether it was said with malice or not, they helped wire my own sadistic chatterbox with lots of ammo to virtually beat myself up for thirty some-odd years, and they did so knowingly and gleefully, thinking I somehow deserved it, telling it would help.
It totally fucking didn’t.
If that’s not a reason to blog it out and work it out, I really don’t know what is.
“Did you get held back?” – said to me by my fifth grade classmates, because I had boobs at 11. They never did believe me when I said I wasn’t. #theysaid
“You’d be hot if you’d just lose weight.” Said to me by many folks, but the first time I remember hearing it was from my brother-in-law. I was 12. #theysaid
“Don’t you want to lose weight?? Don’t you want to be thin?” Said by my P.E. coach on the first day of co-ed P.E., when we were tasked with running a mile and I couldn’t do it. I was 15. #theysaid
“Do your nipples point outward or down?” asked a DJ who was trying to figure out before he met me if he wanted to have sex with me. I was 17. #theysaid
“Nobody is going to want you.” Said by my first husband, back when he was unmedicated, when he thought tough love would help motivate me change. I was 22. #theysaid
“GO ON A DIET!!” – screamed at me by a guy driving past me as I was *riding a bike*. I was 23. #theysaid
“Your haircut makes you look like a lesbian. Since you’re associated with me and we’re the same size, this makes me look bad.” – said by a former boss. I was 25. #theysaid
“What does she know about losing weight?? She looks like she weighs 300lbs!” – an anonymous comment when my blog was featured on AOL. I was 33. #theysaid
“What do you know about sex? How can anyone find your pussy? It’s probably underneath layers of fat and sweat, like fucking cottage cheese!” Another anonymous male on the Internet, who challenged what I might have to say about birth control in a political forum. I was 36. #theysaid
My doctor, at a first appointment, without any testing: “You’re diabetic.”
Me: “I’m not diabetic.”
Doctor: “Do you get up in the night to pee?”
Me: “Yes. I always have.”
Doctor: “Then you’re diabetic.”
SPOILER ALERT: I wasn’t diabetic.
I was 36. #theysaid
“Have you tried to lose weight?” a smirking doctor asked, when I told him I had tried everything to get rid of my chronic back pain – even though I was flat on my back three times a year because of it. I was 38. #theysaid
“Look I know you women hate to hear the truth, but there is such a thing as a “universal standard of beauty:” and it isn’t you. Men really don’t care about your intelligence, your wit, your charm, your job, etc. All men are genetically programmed to seek the conventionally attractive women… Men don’t want heavy women and we will never hesitate to let you know it.” – an anonymous comment to a blog where I talk about how ineffective fat-shaming is. I was 42. And married. Twice. #theysaid
This was also the same year where a “friend” confided in me what a mutual friend had to say about my size, that this person never wanted to see me hanging around because of my weight, and that I should have gone to the gym instead.
Turns out that friend did NOT say those things. So either she said them because SHE felt those things or she said them because she knew it would hurt me the worst. Either way… #theysaid.
“Is this writer even a woman?” – said by a book reviewer when I dared to use actual measurements for my Rubenesque heroine, whose HUUUGE bust size was still five inches smaller than what I wore at the time. I was 46. #theysaid
As you can see, scrolling through the pictures, all that “helpful” advice only made the problem worse… as if I really didn’t care to win your favor, to attract you or to make you love me any more.
And guess what?
It’s taken me a few decades but I’ve come to realize that body-shaming doesn’t make you a straight-shooter. It makes you an asshole. And frankly, I’m glad you don’t like me. I get to have a standard too, and shooting you straight, you just don’t measure up, buttercup.
You are one of the main reasons I have had the toughest time dropping the weight, because without this barrier that repels you I MIGHT actually have to deal with you one day, and the thought actually repels me.
When that day comes, and it will not because of you but in SPITE of you, I’ll just have to find clever new ways to repel you.
Until then, while I try to figure that out, kindly fuck off.
And have a nice day. #Isaid