My Weight and I

I have struggled with my weight my whole life. Literally, since junior infants I was chubby. I used to get bullied about it back then. As I got older, the bullying changed. It wasn’t direct insults, but it was shown in social exclusion and laughing/talking behind my back.
Santa

See that boy to the right wearing a tye dye tshirt and hideous… whatever those jackets are called?! That’s me, aged eight, perhaps.

A lot of my former friends poked fun at my weight, as I did too; a coping mechanism. Transitioning into teenage-hood I realised that teenage boys in particular liked to tease girls about their weight, especially quiet fat girls; and as I was one, this taunting from young men would continue into my young adulthood (17)…
Sometimes the “hoodies” would shout at me in the streets or call me names based on my weight. I never really got insults from women. I think a lot of young men see bigger women as a threat because they don’t initially feel power over them so they have to prove their superiority by being cruel (I am sure there’s better psychology behind it than that – but a psychologist I am not…)
I’m sure the fact that I am quiet in nature with strangers doesn’t help. I have never once stood up for myself against someone making fun of my weight.
I have online; but that’s different. You can hide behind a picture and feel safe defending yourself.
fat kid.jpg

Here I am trying to squash my small brother into nothingness it would seem. As you can imagine, I couldn’t get dresses in child sizes…

When I escaped the hell hole that was secondary school and teenage-hood, I thought the bullying would stop. But it didn’t. Even when I went to college other boys my age still poked fun at my weight. It even happens now, although less frequently.
As someone who suffers from depressive episodes, extreme stress and anxiety… I see bullying about my weight as essentially vocalizing my number one insecurity that I have always and will always have (even when I do succeed in losing weight)
my childhood

That’s me on the far left. Note to current day children: don’t tie your cardigan around your waist. It screams clueless pensioner. As does my ill looking face. How could a child who looks like that be anything other than miserable?! (It’s what’s on the inside that counts?!)

My fat child is a part of me and she would be even if I were now skinny. I indirectly learned at a young age that people didn’t like me because I was fat and weird. And so, my size, appearance and social awkwardness manifested into my worst enemies. Which translated into, of course, my worst enemy being myself.
I am not writing this post for sympathy. I am writing it to spread a message. And that is… people are normally fat for a reason.
In fact, of (almost) all of the overweight people I know, all have suffered with low self esteem, have been the victims of bullies, relationship abuse, manipulation, self harm, depression, anxiety…
Many (including myself at times) get extreme anxiety about eating in public (especially junk food) as it feels like everyone’s judging you. Look at their glare and you know what they’re thinking… “Fat bitch”. Then, if you’re on a diet and you’re eating healthy food, they’re thinking… “Who are you trying to kid, love?”
Thankfully, many strangers won’t vocalize their impression of you. But I guarantee you, they will think it. And they may let it known through a glance. How do I know they think it? Because I think it, too. I think it when I see another fat person. I judge them in one swift glance. Even though I am fat, too. We’re programmed to do this.
Fattie.jpg
We’re programmed to see fatties as lesser than skinnies. We’re programmed to see them as hopeless, lacking ambition, lacking any motivation or self control. We see them as ugly, unattractive, possibly even a danger. We judge them based on what they’re wearing. “She’s too big to be wearing that”…
If you’ve never been fat, it really is hard to understand. But I am writing this post to tell you that being fat isn’t necessarily down to being lazy and stupid. It can often be triggered by anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.
A self harmer might binge eat instead of cut themselves. Does that make them “lazy” and “stupid”?
So I urge you… see fatties as human, not disgusting. I can guarantee you every fatty has a story behind why they got that way.
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Is Barbie REALLY distorting the body image for young girls?

It seems that we are constantly hearing shudders and disapproving tuts from parents and guardians alike, regarding the Barbie dolls their young girls play with.  I am sure that I am not the only one who has heard statements such as “Barbie makes little girls think that they have to look a certain way”, and “Barbie doesn’t represent a normal woman” being thrown around in the last number of years.  But, are these disapproving remarks actually truthful? Or, is this just an irrational concern?

When I was younger, I played with barbies. I liked to make them prance around the place, often in a somewhat ‘unladylike fashion’, contrary to their flawless, pretty appearance.  In fact, I spent very little time as a young girl concerning myself with what Barbie wore.  I can’t remember ever maintaining the dainty little shoes which came with her – they always became lost in some way or other.  Similarly, I spent little time brushing her hair.  I’d roughly scrape through her plastic dyed hair with a human sized brush, and scrape it back with one of my scrunchies.  My Barbies spent most of their time frolicking around the place like they were drunk out of their minds… no shoes, carelessly dressed, often going around with missing items of clothing, etc.  I gave my Barbies certain personalities.  I remember when I was small, I was not one of these young girls to play into ‘the princess Barbie’; I always found the sporty and sociable Barbie to be far more appealing.  I know that other girls are different, and they spend all of their time sitting in their pristine rooms, brushing Barbie’s hair, dressing her, and of course, maintaining every last one of her colourful dainty shoes.

Some little girls are interested in beauty, the colour pink and fashion – and others are not.  Whichever the case, I fail to see how playing with a Barbie doll can distort their body image.

Barbie was not the only toy we played with when we were young. There were plenty – Baby Born, toy cars, teddies, board games, remote control cars, or even ‘make-it-yourself’ sets (which were referred to as ‘makey-do sets’ in my house).  I cannot speak for the general nation of children, but in our house there was rarely gender distinguishing when it came to toys.  My siblings and I shared our toys.  I didn’t adapt an unrealistic body image from Barbie, just like I didn’t aspire to be a cowboy from playing with a Woody doll.

For the most part, I feel I can speak from experience, and say that toys do not put any pressure on children to become a certain person.  Similar concerns have been expressed regarding video games such as ‘Grand Theft Auto’.  My simple response to this concern is that maniacs, murderers and rapists have been around for centuries.  I fail to see how a violent video game is going to encourage children to act violently.  Also, the game is only suitable for over 18 year olds — so maybe your child shouldn’t be playing it anyway if you do not want these concerns to become reality.

I can safely say that for me, a toy was always just a toy when I was young.  I was never under the impression that girls who looked like Barbie existed.  Perhaps ‘blonde bombshells’ did, but nonetheless they were human beings with non-animated faces and hair that wasn’t plastic. I also knew that Woody from Toy Story didn’t exist, and that race cars required a driver to move, not a hand.

Toys are there for children to create, to imagine, to have fun and to even express themselves.  So, my simple answer to the title of this blog is ‘no’, I don’t feel that Barbie distorts the body image of young girls.  Barbie is just a glorified piece of plastic, with round plastic boobs and plastic white-blonde hair.  Barbie was made out of plastic – just like Baby Born was, and just like remote control cars were.  I was never under the illusion that I would someday become a Barbie replica – and I never felt any of my other friends would either.  I was surrounded by real-life women, who were not made out of plastic and did not have permanent makeup tattooed onto their faces.  I always aspired to be like these women – I never aspired to look like Barbie, or act like her (considering her personality was somewhat bland.)

If anything, we need to concern ourselves with real-life women.  I do recall aspiring to be like Rachel Stevens from S Club 7, or Emma Bunton from The Spice Girls.  Rachel Stevens was awarded the title of ‘Sexiest Woman Alive’ during my childhood; and Emma Bunton often wore very little clothes and behaved very promiscuously in music videos (although she was most probably playing the character of ‘Baby Spice’)

Are these really positive role models for young girls?  Both examples were sexualised in the media.  Barbie was also sexualised; but as I have stated, the difference is that Barbie is plastic. Perhaps we need to be concerning ourselves more with the unsuitable role models for young girls?

But for now, I don’t feel Barbie is putting on any pressure. And, if you think she is, just don’t buy her for your children. It seems pretty simple to me!

Thanks for reading 🙂