The Person Who First Hurt Your Body Image


There are certain moments in life that become burned into our consciousness forever, like our first kiss. Well, what about the time a boy (or man) said something to us that murdered our body image?

Whether it last year or back in first grade, every woman recalls with crystal clarity the insult that rocked her to the core.

For me, it happened in fourth grade, in the Aptakisic Junior High School auditorium. I was a bit husky for my age, thanks to undiagnosed hypothyroidism. The fact that I wore a bigger size than most girls my age secretely killed me. I was in the auditorium with a group of friends, including a boy I had a crush on, when another boy, named Matt, called me a cow. It seems ridiculous now, but I can still feel the shame and anger burning inside me, burying itself for decades to come. I don’t think that single comment caused my college eating disorder, but it certainly didn’t put me on the path to the Land of Self Loving.

Intrigued by the power of words, I inquired with other women and found most everyone has survived such a moment. Read on as other ladies share their stories, then share your memory in our Chime In section below.

The woman: Lindsey, 33
The perpetrator: Brad
Age: 12
The offense: “I was on the 7th grade cheerleading squad and I was wearing my uniform that day. I was in the lunch room, when a boy named Brad told me I was too fat to be a cheerleader. I immediately threw my lunch in the garbage and went to the nurse’s office, faking illness and asked my mom to pick me up. I was devastated. The next week, I took my babysitting money and went to Jenny Craig (totally against my parents’ wishes). Thankfully, they told me I was too young and too thin for their plan, but wow…what a mess that made me! I ran into Brad about 12 years ago and told him this story (which of course he didn’t remember) and he told me that he actually had a crush on me in junior high! Go figure…

The woman: Alison, 41
The perpetrator: Jason
Age: 12
The offense: “A guy I had a crush on was sitting behind me in class. I was looking in the mirror to check my makeup when he said, ‘What are you looking at, an elephant?’ I was 5’8”, 140 pounds. So, I went on a diet, barely ate anything, lost 10 pounds, the catalyst for a decade-long battle with body image and weight.

The woman: Maria, 48
The perpetrator: Doug
Age: 10
The offense: “In 5th grade, a boy named Doug turned around to pass back whatever worksheet was going around and said, ‘Ewww! You have a mustache!’ Yes, I was 10 and yes, I did have facial hair growing in the form of a mustache (and still do!) I have always been self-conscious about my Middle Eastern hairiness, but have comforted myself with the knowledge that I have a great head of hair and my kids would likely have the same great hair (and so far, so good!). Certainly Doug’s comment didn’t do anything to ease my self-consciousness, but I don’t think I’d have felt any better about it had he kept his mouth shut.

The woman: Melanie, 38
The perpetrator: Ex-husband
Age: 23
The offense: “My ex-husband once answered my generic, trying-on-clothes question, ‘Does my butt look big?’ with a very serious, ‘It’s a little bigger than I’d like.’ I was so upset!

The woman: Gina, mid-30s
The perpetrator: Charles
Age: Grade school
The offense: “A boy named Charles began calling me Large Sarge (my last name), which the other kids thought was hilarious and then they all decided to join in. Even though I wasn’t fat, I began thinking of myself that way, and to this day I always have to catch myself when I look in the mirror and see the fat person.”

The woman: Michelle, 33
The perpetrator: Adam
Age: 6th grade
The offense: “I was wearing a short-sleeved shirt and was at the water fountain when my crush Adam approached up. My right arm — operating the fountain — was bent at an angle by my ear. Suddenly, Adam started laughing and shouted, ‘Don’t clog the drain with your arm hair, Michelle!’ This incident made me forever self-conscious of my arm hair. I didn’t expose my arms again at school. I even waxed my arms for my wedding because I worried that my arm hair would ruin my wedding photos.”

Okay, commenters: Time to let it all out. Take it away.

This post originally appeared on iVillage. Republished with permission.

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Image via Karen Struthers/Shutterstock.]

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