Body Image Memories: When Did You Learn You Were Your Weight?
Here’s an excerpt that’ll likely make you mad (it did me!) – and possibly bring back a few not-so fond memories:
Two summers ago, it got personal.
I was sitting at the hair salon, my infant daughter, Tallie, gurgling beside me in her stroller, when a middle-aged woman with wavy blond hair ambled over, peered into the stroller and, with wrinkles creasing around her eyes exclaimed, “Oh, look at her!”
I’ve always been used to people – strangers – making a fuss over Tallie. Even at five months old, she was quite engaging. But before I could smile or utter a proud “Thank you,” the woman continued effusively, “Look at those fat thighs! Me, oh my! Enjoy it now, honey. It’s the only time fat is cute.” Then she laughed, and a woman nearby nodded in agreement.
I was thinking, of course, that the woman was an idiot. Not malicious. Just clueless. As far as I was concerned, she may as well have said, “Fat is bad, bad little girl, and you’d better learn it now!”
This excerpt comes from Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession Is Messing Up Our Girls And How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It* by Robyn J.A. Silverman, Ph.D. (BTW, expect an interview with Robyn in the future!)
This got me thinking about these damaging teaching moments, these memories that carve certain “truths” into our minds. Truths that color our self-image. Truths that make us feel unworthy and undeserving. Truths that encourage self-destructive behavior.
Do you remember your first or one of the firsts events that shaped how you view your body, your worth, your weight?
I don’t remember when I first learned that in our society – and in my teeny tiny world – that thinness was currency. But I do remember that when I was small – like second or third grade small – I’d give anything to be pretty, thin and popular.
In fact, I used to think – quite matter-of-factly – that I’d easily give my brain.
Very sad, but true.
I decided that I’d give away my intelligence so I could be beautiful and skinny and so boys would pay attention to me, because clearly being smart wasn’t doing it. I felt this way for many years after.
I figured life would be easier if I were thin. Most of the well-liked girls I knew were skinny. And I yearned to be well-liked. To be noticed.
There wasn’t a clueless woman in my memories or parents who wanted me to look a certain way. I’m really not sure how this desire developed. But the thinness-is-the-end-all-be-all truth has remained with me for many, many years. I’m still working on changing this truth.
When did you learn that being thin was important or that being fat was bad? Was it something a stranger said? A bully, your parents or friends? What events in your life slowly started to shape your body image “truths”?
Today’s favorite post (sorry these have been missing for a while!): “Just Lie Still” by Joy Tanksley at Being Joy.
(* I received a copy from the publisher.)
Tartakovsky, M. (2010). Body Image Memories: When Did You Learn You Were Your Weight?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 3, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2010/10/body-image-memories-when-did-you-learn-you-were-your-weight/