When I was in sixth grade, my boyfriend told me he didn’t care that I was fat. He loved me anyway, just as I was.
It was something along the lines of, “Tom and all those guys say you’re really big, but it doesn’t matter to me.” And instead of hearing the part about his acceptance of me, all I heard was that people thought I was fat. This was absolutely news to me, as I’d never thought about my size, weight, or shape in any way before that moment. Never considered that other people were looking at me and judging me. It was an absolute revelation. And although I give him credit for trying to soften the blow and explain that he could care less, it still changed me. For the worse.
When I was a sophomore in high school, I attended my boyfriend’s senior prom. We double-dated with one of my best friends in the world. When we met up in the hotel lobby, she took one look at me in the orchid-pink satin dress that my mom had made for me and told me I looked “stunning.” To me, that was a word reserved for movie stars, models, princesses … not nerdy little high schoolers like me. And it was an absolute revelation. Just by telling me her perceptions, she opened up a little door inside me. Her belief changed my potential in that one moment, with that one phrase. For the better
Having to be excruciatingly careful with every word you say is a major pain in the ass. I know it is. Nothing makes the steam come pouring out of my ears, Tom & Jerry-style, like having my language policed. But looking back at these two tiny incidents – verbal exchanges that I guarantee neither friend would recollect – shows me the importance of thoughtful, caring language. Especially when it comes to discussing the appearance, shape, size, weight, or beauty of another human being.
Can you recall a single exchange, phrase, or incident that changed how you saw your body for the worse? For the better? Does it aggravate you to mind your p’s and q’s so closely? Do you think it’s worthwhile to do so, regardless?
Image courtesy ellenantill.