I officially feel like my weight has been all over the spectrum. I have been pretty overweight, I have been toned and lean, and now I am underweight. From my own personal experience, I have never received as much criticism about my body as I do now. Nobody ever fat shamed me or teased me for being overweight. On the other hand, my butt has always been a hot topic of comments since I was a teenager and although I mostly get compliments, they always just make me self conscious that everyone is paying so much attention to my rear end. One boyfriend in my early 20’s told me my thighs were beefy and I will forever think I look like a cow. It's funny how words can stick with you! But overall, most people have never walked up to me and instantly criticized my body as their opening greeting. Now, that is no longer the case. Most people in my life see me and immediately tell me to eat something.
I understand the criticism may come from a place of concern but if that is truly the case, try to be gentle with your words. Instead of taking one look at someone underweight and saying “You need to eat!” Maybe you could try asking a question about their health or progress to see what is going on because I am eating, so I don't need you to tell me to do so. I honestly am trying my hardest to heal and know so many others struggling with illness that are giving it everything they can. The fact that my body is deteriorating at the moment is not something I have control over. Although there are some days I don’t eat enough, most days I am right on track because my life is focused on building consistency in my routine and habits so I can gain stamina and help my body be at its best.
Body shaming is ridiculous. Nobody should criticize another persons body for any reason. I can't imagine walking up to the people in my life that are five to ten pounds overweight and the first words out of my mouth be "Wow, you really need to get to the gym!" It is rude, judgmental, and despite being a personal trainer, not my place to tell someone what to do with their body. I have been trying to develop a healthier relationship with my body for years but still struggle with embracing all its curves - now that I am losing those curves, I am struggling more with everyone criticizing my body. It’s interesting to me that before most of my shame was internal and now that I am underweight it is external. I have been working with Monty for years to embrace my body more. He joked at the beginning of all this weight loss that I will finally be happy with my body now. Honestly, I don’t have a huge issue with how I look right now so he was right, but I am having a hard time dealing with the criticism. Like many other women, I tend to focus on the flaws and have trouble seeing the beauty. In part, that is why his photos help my psyche. They help me see the human body as a work of art instead of picking apart a single feature. I think more people need to view the body this way. I have read varying statistics but most of them say 80-91% of women are dissatisfied with how their body looks - I don't think we need any external criticism to reinforce this. We need to learn to stop criticizing and judging ourselves and others and love what we have. I don't think the negative self talk is adding any value to our lives and probably doesn't help us with our overall health and well-being either.
Last week I was told "It feels like I'm cuddling a skeleton." I know that was not meant to be hurtful but that doesn't mean it didn't hurt a little. I know that is silly but I guess I'm a little sensitive these days. I think I so deeply want to be a normal, healthy human that I don't enjoy any reminder that I am not. I just wanted to share my thoughts on this because the comments have been getting to me and I always feel like if something pops up on my health journey, then other people are experiencing it too. This also goes along with my series of Chronic Illness Etiquette. At this point 6 in 10 people in the US have a chronic illness and 4 in 10 have more than one! If over half of us are struggling with health issues, it is important to know how to communicate and support each other whether healthy or ill.
Illness Etiquette Miniseries: