Shortly after posting my latest post, "body-shaming, bullying, and boys", I had someone write me and share these thoughts:
"Hey Kylee! I couldn't sleep either, but I read your blog post, and I really liked it! I thought I would share a personal experience I had related to what you were talking about. I can really feel for the boy you talked about. When I was a kid, I was very overweight. My Dad and brothers would make fun of me all of the time. My Dad would often call me "dough boy" (The Pillsbury Dough Boy). I remember being very embarrassed and self-conscious. I hated going swimming. I'd always leave my shirt on in the pool because I was embarrassed of my body. People would then make fun of me for leaving my shirt on. While these are all terrible things to say to a young boy, it's actually what inspired me to eat healthy and get into shape. I don't think I would have ever had the motivation or desire to lose weight and get into a healthy lifestyle if I didn't have any fuel for the fire. However, that comes with a price. I am still, to this day, extremely self-conscious about my body image. I am very hard on myself about the way I look, and most of it is due to me thinking that girls won't like me unless I am extremely fit and muscular. I am never satisfied and am constantly trying to push myself further. While I think it's a good thing to have goals such as these, it's also a bad thing because I have become somewhat obsessed and am constantly being hard on myself. Anyways, I just thought I would share that! Great post. I really liked it!"
I don't think parents realize the mark their comments can potentially leave behind. I am sure those parents in the store from my last post simply thought the comments were positive criticism or "tough love" to help their boy become "healthy". While the comment to lose weight and accept the reality of the situation may not end up affecting that young boy in the long-run, is it worth the risk? I've heard many other similar stories just like the one I shared above.
Yes, the comments themselves are hurtful. I could clearly see the look of shame on the young boy's face that one day at the store. The boy from the above story also became very embarrassed after being teased and ridiculed about his body. While these comments are hurtful, they do not even begin to touch the negative, long-term body image issues they often create. I personally know the man who sent me the above story. He is not someone you would look at and think he had such a negative self body image. It's shocking to hear about his constant struggle of never being satisfied with the way his body looks. I never would have guessed due to the fact that, in my opinion, he is extremely fit and muscular. While some of you may not see the severity of this because perhaps you think it's a good thing to always be pushing yourself further, I disagree. I hope the man above can one day be accepting of his body as it currently is. I do not see a problem with setting goals of what you would like to achieve. I do not see a problem with wanting to push yourself. The constant self-doubt and obsessive thoughts, however, are the problem, whether people see it that way or not.
So again, I leave you with: think twice, or maybe even five times, about what you say before you say say it. And to the boys in both stories: you are much more than your body. Let's focus on what else we all contribute to society besides the way our bodies look.