Abuse and body shaming negatively impacts so many of us girls and women, though boys and men as well are going through increasing body pressures and standards and bullying around their bodies, and we have to spend precious energy and healing work on healing from emotional and verbal abuse on body shaming and weight issues.
I had to work years and years in order to accept and love my body, as is. I had been taught and shamed by my sexual abuser mother to hate and loathe my body. The abuse also taught me this. I had weight issues that I struggled with for a long time, partly due to having undiagnosed and untreated low level thyroid functioning. I had gained extra weight, gained over two decades, contributed by health disabilities, a back disability, and being given a series of anti-depressants that caused more weight gain. I had body dysmorphic disorder for decades. It was exhausting to hate and loathe myself and my body.
Just think of all the other healing work I could have done on healing from my child sexual abuse and the mother daughter sexual abuse if instead I could focus on them and not have to work on them and body issues and self hatred and body hatred caused by my abusers, others, my society, and bullies.
In addition, abuse and body shaming do not happen in a bubble, they are supported by cultural norms and standards that are unrealistic and violations of autonomy and personal pursuits of integrity, body love, freedom, happiness, and respect, and they negatively impact males and females around the world.
I want to lose more weight, have lost thirty pounds and kept those off for more than four years, and it is quite an up-and-down challenge with my disability and mobility issues. I want to lose weight because it helps my back disability and my whole body; I even have less pain throughout my body when I have weighed less and that is not insignificant. But my weight issues are not based on societal or gender standards as far as I am concerned. I don’t care. But that doesn’t mean that I am not a target of those standards.
I won’t hate myself because I was taught to hate myself and I won’t hate myself because someone else believes those lies and feels good about being cruel and hateful to someone else. This type of stuff does impact women and girls and even guys, and it surely had a huge part in my mother’s body hatred and her transferring that onto my sister and I.
I want to help myself to be happier and healthier and weight and activity level are important components of that. However other people and my culture do not dictate how I do that, how I love myself, nor how I live my life.
My love for myself isn’t based on approval from my culture, other women, men, or anybody about my body, it is based on my assessment of my characteristics, my skills, my personality, my inner system’s worth, and our beliefs and actions as we move through the world. We have worked hard and long to love our disabled body and that is a hard won victory. The two men who participated in body shaming me recently had and have no impact on that. I’m sure they have done this kind of hatred towards other women. They were very comfortable doing it and seemed to enjoy it a great deal.
It hasn’t been the only incident, it even happened once last week from a seriously deranged older woman who didn’t think that I was moving fast enough to her liking when she was trying/demanding that I move out of her way at the entrance to the post office, as I was trying to lock my bike, and she insulted me and jabbed her long fingernails into my mid-back three or four times and bullied me about my body, saying insulting things about my body, in an attempt to body shame me.
There were three ways to get into the door and she had to rush up behind me and harass me. I was not blocking the front door. She was nuts, to put it in psychological terms. I seriously told her exactly what I thought of her and told her to stay away from me, and that if she touched me again I was going to call the police on her. Being disabled I move and walk slower than some, some of the time, but I was not in her way. She chose to walk up behind me and harass me.
None of that has any effect on how I live my life. But I know that it effects others and their lives and how they limit themselves and how they stay home and don’t participate in their lives as much as they would if these kind of hateful people were not out there in the world.
A friend of mine in college told me about a time that she went to a workout center, and got made fun of by two jock guys, calling her fat. She had trouble going back again. This is not rare.
It is awful that a person gets body shamed when they are being physically active. I’ve read about this happening repeatedly by fat/body acceptance bloggers. If someone really cared about people or a specific person, they would not shame them when they are being physically active, they would do it when they weren’t being active. This would just be the rational thing to do. They don’t want to helpfully motivate others, they want to engage in hate speech and bullying for their own gratification.
I was recently on my bike when two men in a car made fun of me; one yelling out the window, Lose some weight! A rational person would think and say to themselves, hey this person is being active, they are taking care of their body, but really and seriously what they do is none of my business, so I will shut up.
A rational observer would thus conclude that encouraging or even bossing around another person to be active and/or lose weight is not the goal, the goal is to attempt to body shame, judge, and be hateful, judgmental and bullying towards another person. The goal is to make someone else feel bad because the bully is feeling small and diminished and don’t want to feel their own pain.
When I was regularly going to the gym, several years ago, no one came up to me or encouraged me or even tried to smile, wave, say hi, nod, introduce themselves; not one single athletic person, male or female, out of the numerous times I went there, out of the numerous athletes there. One woman who was overweight and working out there came up to me once and introduced herself and really treated me well, giving me feedback and encouragement. What a bright shining light she was. I try to be that kind of light for other people.