Brave Women Recall Their First Body-Shaming Experiences

body-shaming
Some women remember being body shamed at the age of just six. (Pexels)

It’s rare that a day goes by without someone, somewhere, making me, you or some other woman who is beautiful enough as she is feel bad about their body.

Society would have us believe that unless we fit its unrealistic beauty standards, we are not worthy of success, love or happiness. How dare we feel confident when our breasts aren’t as pert as that Photoshopped model, when our skin hasn’t been airbrushed, when squeezing into a 12 has become a bit of a pain (literally) so we’ve opted for a 14 and when we regularly skip that “clean” salad for a meal that is *gasp* decidedly carb-heavy?

To us, being “beach body ready” means feeling secure in our own skin, knowing that our differences are to be celebrated and being proud of who we are, from our hobbies to our political, our smile to our cellulite.

Which is why the many tweets posted by women around the world as they shared their first experience of body-shaming this week have left us feeling, well, pretty crap actually.

The worst part? So many of these cruel words have come from close relatives and friends, the people who should be lifting you up and loving you for who you are, not who society dictates you be.

Brushing off a nasty remark from a stranger on the street is tough enough, but when someone you care about, respect and trust tells you that you really need to watch your weight, it’s a different ball game altogether and much harder to ignore.

The thread was started by Sally Bergesen, founder of sportswear brand Oiselle, who sent the following tweet to rally the troops:

Before long, she was flooded with responses, all shocking, harrowing and downright depressing. Here is a small, horrible selection:

Soon enough, Bergesen shifted the conversation from negative to positive, encouraging women to suggest ways to hit back at body shamers and show them who’s boss using the hashtag #SheReplied.

Here are some of our favourite comebacks, from the dignified to the justifiably sweary:

Our suggestion? Why not make like Serena Williams and throw a killer quote back at them? The people body-shaming you are almost certainly too stupid to realise they aren’t your words anyway and this way you can prep your favourites in advance. If you aren’t confrontational, you can recite them to yourself as a reminder that really, you’re the winner and your would-be shamer is most definitely the loser.

The tennis ace has been body-shamed and racially abused her whole life for being a black, athletic woman (and a truly glorious one at that). Most recently, she felt compelled to respond to notoriously sexist Romanian captain Ile Nastaste after he made racist remarks about her unborn child, so she turned to Maya Angelou’s famous poem “Still I Rise” and sent this open letter to the *insert expletive here*:

“Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? You may shoot me with your words. You may try to kill me with your hatefulness. But still, like air, I rise.”

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