This morning on Facebook a local news outlet had posted a heartwarming story of police officers giving out ice cream to community kids on a hot day.
But many of the comments in the thread were about one young woman in one of the photos who wasn’t wearing a bra. “You should have bought her a bra.” “No one wants to see that.”
The worst part? It was other women making all the comments!
Let me tell you a story about body shaming.
I was a fat kid back in the day when there weren’t as many fat kids as there were today. What do I remember about my childhood? That I was repeatedly given the message I was unacceptable because of my body’s size.
When I was five, a female neighbor took me aside and told me I needed to lose weight and what I should eat to make that happen. But the women in my family had already been doing that, so it didn’t seem that unusual by then.
My third grade teacher hated me. One day for health class she weighed each of us and called out our weights to the entire class. I think she had an orgasm after she called out mine.
And out of all the wonderful things my grandparents did for me, the thing I remember most about them as a kid was when they tag-team shamed me for being fat, then took me to an ice cream parlor and wondered why I didn’t want anything. Yes, that really happened.
At my age, it still hurts to think of those childhood experiences. Just this past week I was in my line dancing group and one of the women in the group gave me one of those looks, like what are YOU doing here? Well, I’m here because this is a health and wellness activity offered by my employer. Did you think only young, skinny women were allowed to attend? But it has bothered me since, and I’ve had to spend several days reminding myself that what I’m feeling is not just her ridicule, but 50 years of body shaming victimization.
The response from you haters out there will invariably be, “Well, if you don’t want me to make fun of you, don’t be fat!” Oh no, I’m not falling for that. If my weight was smack-dab in the middle of normal, you’d find some other reason to make fun of me. One of my ears is lower than the other. My feet are too big. My hair is frizzy. My clothes are funny. You’d always find SOME REASON to laugh at me.
I guess I could give it back to you and make fun of you. I don’t want to carry all that anger and bitterness around. I want to be well, not let those old wounds continue to fester.
But when I see women making fun of other women, it infuriates me, because no woman should have to feel what I feel just because she doesn’t fit into someone else’s made-up idea of what she should be.
So to you women who think you have a right to shame other women, I say this:
Who the fuck do you think you are? If a woman chooses to not wear a bra, it is her legal right to do so. If she wants to wear her hair purple, her shorts up to her butt cheeks, or not shave her legs, it’s legal. It’s fine. And if she doesn’t wear a size zero, that’s OK too.
She doesn’t deserve to be raped because what she wears or how she looks. She doesn’t deserve your snide comments or sideways glances. And you absolutely have no right to post a photo of her to social media. So quit shaming your sisters and mind your own damn business. After all, you probably already know how much it hurts to bear the brunt of that shaming, so why do you think it’s OK to do it to someone else?
Would it kill you to be nice to each other every once in awhile?