What’s the first thing you think when you hear those words? I can almost guarantee that you immediately associate it with girls, myself included, but I can also assure you that it’s a problem for men too.
As someone that is constantly being told “You’re too skinny”, “Put on some weight” and “You’re just skin and bone”, it resonates right to my core when somebody says that body shaming doesn’t happen to men. Saying these comments might seem a little light-hearted and in good faith, but it’s truly amazing how much it has affected how I see myself.
I never had a problem with how I looked – yeah, I had a few issues but nothing that was majorly on my mind. And then I get the “put on some weight” comment from a friend and it all changed how I thought I looked. It completely altered the way I wanted to dress (not to be perceived too skinny) and massively knocked my confidence.
I’m almost certain that each and every one of us will have to deal with a comment like this at some point in our lives, and if you already have then you will know exactly how it feels. It makes you feel like there is something utterly wrong with you because other people are beginning to notice and even comment on it. It’s fine, and perfectly normal, to have your own concerns, but as soon as somebody else says something then that’s when it spirals out of control.
It totally sent my mind on a tangent; diverting from being confident in my body, to being scared about getting a glimpse of myself in the mirror whilst getting dressed in case it took me into an (even deeper) black hole.
I became even more conscious of how others saw me – even strangers. I would walk down the street, getting nervous when I saw someone look at me and create an imaginary situation of what comment they would make if they had the chance to.
Nowadays, “perfect” bodies are flaunted at us everywhere we turn. From scrolling on social media, TV adverts, magazines and billboards, we are constantly inundated with the “right way to look” and I think that’s one of the main reasons why it affected me so much! I was seeing how I wanted to look and wishing for that – being completely irrational by comparing myself to taller guys with bigger and better bodies. I know now that I will never be able to have big arms and shoulders and abs, but back then I couldn’t see past that complexity and wanted it all. I needed some sort of validation of being “right” and looking like everyone else.
I began to freak out about the smallest of things: for example, I would get undressed in the dark because I didn’t want to get knocked back again by what my body looked like. I couldn’t bring myself to face what I was living with and would have much rather put it to the depths of my mind in the hope that it would sort itself out.
Obviously, it didn’t sort itself out.
I had to do something to turn that all around and get my life back to a point where I was happy, or at least happier. I gave myself endless pep-talks, trying to rev myself up to do something about it – I kept reminding myself about the constant comments I got about how I looked, the upset that those comments caused and that was enough to get into action. I soon began to realise that everyone is different, everyone has different body types and that it’s okay to have you own insecurities – I still do! I have, however, started ignoring the idea that my body is supposed to look a certain way. I am on my own journey to get to a place where I am happy and so far that has been successful. I have noticed real changes in the way that I can actually look at myself in the mirror without turning my nose up. I can honestly say, without sound too crude, that I enjoy getting naked because it’s an indication of how far I’ve come.
I wouldn’t say that I was at the stage I want to be at, but I am definitely on my way to achieving what I want.
In a way, I have my friend to thank for their comment and making me realise that it was a real problem.