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A Different Type of Body Shaming…

We’ve all experienced body shaming at some point in our life; either we shame ourselves when we look in the mirror and pick our appearance apart inch by inch or we are shamed by someone else’s cruel words and cutting remarks.  The seemingly most common body shaming comments seem to revolve around someone’s weight, whether they are too skinny or too heavy for one’s liking, and nicknames such as “Bones” or “Fatty” are often thrown around on Facebook and social media without a care in the world.  Jennifer Aniston just wrote about body shaming in an excellent op-ed piece on the Huffington Post and rightfully called out people and gossip sites who seem to have nothing better to do than watch her stomach and the size of her rear-end.

I’ve dealt with body shaming almost all of my life; Mom had a thousand nicknames for me when I was going through puberty and a thousand more when I turned to anorexia to deal with the mental and physical abuse she was putting me through.  I’ve dealt with body shaming as an adult; women who pick on me for being skinny and call me “Bones” or other similar, unintelligent names to try and tear me apart for my small size.  It hurts, the names hurt, and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t look at myself differently in the mirror the next day after being called one of those names.

But this blog isn’t about the body shaming that many have experienced; the childish names and the remarks about our weight that most people have heard at some point in their lives.  This blog is about how victims of abuse body shame themselves on a daily basis.  The shame we feel when we take off our clothes and see scars on our body left over from years of abuse.  The shame that consumes us when someone we love touches a part of our body that was hurt horribly by someone in our past.  The shame of accepting a gentle touch or a soft caress to our face and the shame we feel during our most intimate moments with our partner.

People who haven’t experienced physical or sexual abuse truly can’t wrap their minds around the day to day trauma that abuse victims experienced.  They can read about the worst things that happened to the victim in the local paper if the abuser happens to get caught or watch a Lifetime movie about someone who was abused; but to sit and think about what abuse victims deal with day after day is too much for many to handle.

Abuse victims just aren’t abused once and that’s it.  We are abused over and over, stretched out over months and years, and abuse like that is never the same day to day.  Our abusers come up with new and creative ways to hurt us when one of their techniques seems to stop giving them the response that they want.  And their creative ways to punish us hurt our bodies more than you can imagine.

I am ashamed of my body when my significant other gently caresses my forehead, runs his fingers over my eyebrow and feels the place where Mom fractured my skull.  When I am close to him and he runs his hands up and down my arm, I cringe when I remember how I got all of the fingernail scars and the burns that left marks up and down my arms.  “Stop, you are beautiful” he whispers, but I stubbornly shake my head and look down at my scars.  “No I’m not”.  How could anyone think that my scars were beautiful?  How could he think that I was anything but disgusting after knowing and seeing what I went through with his own eyes?  After knowing some of the sick things that Mom did to me, how could he ever want to be around me or touch me?

So one day, I mustered up my courage and I asked him. And what he said brought me to tears.

“You are more beautiful in my eyes because of those scars.  They are badges of honor and they show how strong you are. Those scars are nothing that you should ever, ever be ashamed of.”

He was right. I am ashamed of what I went through as a child and I still think that everyone sees me the way that Mom does.  I don’t feel as if I deserve the gentle touches or the soft caresses he gives me, not after what my body had already been through.  Because when your body is treated like garbage, you believe it is garbage.  When you are beaten and hurt and when your body is put through things that most grown people couldn’t handle, you don’t feel like you deserve the soft hugs and the tender kisses because your body was treated so roughly and so poorly for such a long period of time.

It’s hard not to live in the past when you have physical reminders of your horrible past all over your body.  It’s hard to accept that you are worthy of love and gentle touches when your body was treated as a piece of meat by an abuser.  But we have to try to see ourselves the way our loved ones see us, we have to look past the scars the same way that they do.  We need to accept their soft touches and relax when we are being held tight; because we have nothing to be ashamed of and we are just getting the treatment that we deserved to get our entire lives.

A Different Type of Body Shaming…


Sarah Burleton NY Times bestselling author

Victoria Gigante Writes For Psych CentralSarah Burleton was born in a little town in Illinois to a very emotionally disturbed woman. Her first book, her child abuse memoir "Why Me," spent 26 weeks on the New York Times and the print version is endorsed by David Pelzer, author of "A Child Called It." Sarah is now realizing her goal in becoming an ambassador for abused children and adult survivors and is currently conducting workshops and seminars throughout the state. Her message of strength over adversity and her story will help counselors, teachers, and other professionals identify signs of abuse and learn ways to establish trust with an abused child.


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APA Reference
, . (2016). A Different Type of Body Shaming…. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 24, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/strength-adversity/2016/07/a-different-type-of-body-shaming/

 

Last updated: 15 Jul 2016
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