Have you ever been in a situation where someone says something to you or someone else that seems totally harmless but after the tenth time hearing it you start reading into it and it drives you crazy?
Well, the past couples days I keep hearing men reiterate to me and other women how many calories are in the food or drink beverages we’re consuming. I’ll order a frappucino or get a cookie with my sub and I’m immediately reminded of the repercussions that sip or bite will have on my body.
I’m sure it’s just coincidental, but like I said earlier, when you hear it over and over it starts taking a toll on you. So tonight after hearing yet another comment regarding calories, I just snapped. I felt like this person was trying to indirectly tell me I was getting fat, and it honestly ruined the rest of my night and set off a chain reaction of bad thoughts.
And to put it bluntly, I’m just really sick of it. I know this person didn’t intentionally make me feel insecure, but it’s these thoughtless comments that have shaped my self-conscious body image and lacking self-esteem. And I know I’m not alone in this.
I wish we as a society could realize what we say can lead to so much more than what we intend. I know we can’t always control how people perceive what we express, but if we can be so hyperaware of the number of calories in a caramel frappucino, why can’t we be equally as aware of the implications in our statements and the effect it could have on others?
I know devil’s advocate could say in this situation that I need to be stronger because people will be people, and I can’t rely on others to feel confident about myself.
And I agree. I can’t let everything I hear affect me so drastically. But I also won’t settle for others not taking responsibility. I think if we have an opportunity to avoid cutting someone down by simply omitting conversations about McDonald’s being for fatties or comments of that nature, why wouldn’t we? There’s a difference in expressing concern for someone’s health and expressing that that french fry is going straight to their backside.
In simplest terms, we as a society need to rehabilitate how we talk about food, health and appearance.
That being said, I believe insecurity breeds insecurity.
My family, whom I love more than words can describe, thrives on insecurities, especially when it comes to their bodies.
And while I don’t blame them for my self-consciousness, I can unfortunately say they taught me how to critique each and every part of my body.
Because what they didn’t understand is before I could grasp that they saw themselves as overweight having too much cellulite on their thighs and never having a flat enough stomach, I sat there as a child seeing them as the most beautiful, perfect human beings I’d ever known.
But when you grow up watching your role models destroy themselves with criticisms and not only unattainable but unnecessary goals of becoming size two, you start looking at yourself differently wondering, “Well if there’s something wrong with them, what’s wrong with me?”
And for a while, I tried tricking myself saying, “I’ll never let myself be as self-conscious as them. I’ll never be so obsessed with how my body looks.”
Little did I know on a random Friday night at age 19 I would be told my drink had a lot of calories and just snap. Little did I know the insecurities I heard growing up would one day become my own.
I’m not writing this post to say I’m mad at the world for making me insecure. I’m writing it because I have no choice. It needs to be said.
We need to understand that if it’s really health we are so concerned about, we need to completely disassociate cankles, thigh gaps, or cellulite from the conversation. Because while I understand that healthy people are generally thinner and while I understand we have an obesity epidemic, our daily conversations don’t revolve around a simply “fit” body. They revolve around perfection and not only is that not possible, it’s not what matters. It’s not what’s important.
Watching my family point out their imperfections and hearing men count the number of calories in my food hasn’t taught me to be healthy, it’s taught me to judge my body.
What’s important is understanding that how we see ourselves teaches others how to see themselves.
And I know, collectively, we can do better.