“ When I was 19 I worked at the customer service desk in a retail shop. I had a customer who told me he loved my hair and that I resembled Cher. He was really nice and then he goes "do you know what would look really good on you? If you lost around 10 pounds." I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. It was so shocking. And he was saying it in the same upbeat tone of the compliments he had just given me. Like he was telling me I had a great sweater or something. I was speechless. I'm pretty sure I just said "ok". I wish I had the voice I have now to tell him how horrible of a thing that was to say to a young girl.
“ Here is a teenaged trauma that still haunts me at 47. I grew up in a small town and we would often travel on a bus for sports. One weekend we were coming home from a tournament of some sorts and one of the boys decided to start a chant “Here we go [my name]. Here we go. BOOM BOOM!” And then someone else joined him. And someone else. And then eventually the entire bus - which had teachers on it who did nothing to stop this - screamed this horrific fat shaming chant over and over. I sat there and tried not to cry. But inside I think a part of my soul died that day. Humans are just awful sometimes. And I wish people realized that even 30 years later these moments still hold onto little pieces of our self worth.
“ My first time was at 19, easily 4 or more sizes smaller than i am now, working at Macy’s. I was checking on an older man and his wife and he asked me “what’s the gender?” I was confused and asked “what?” slowly realizing what was happening and he asked again and I just shook my head and his wife hit him on the arm. I cried in a dressing room for about 45 min after that.
“ I received tons of comments about my weight throughout my life but the one that stays with me most is when I lost 100+ lbs, my coworker tried to compliment me by saying, “you look so good now. You could hardly walk before, you basically just waddled”. As if it a different person now... As if it’s okay to ever talk about/to a person like that...
“ The summer I was 16, I worked at a city day camp, many days riding my bike to work. My parents were away at a cottage for weeks. I discovered a vending machine on the campus where the camp operated and bought candy bars daily. When I next saw my mom, she said “I thought you were riding your bike everyday but you are fatter than ever”. Over 50 years later, I remember the sting of her words.
“ I have psoriasis. It started when I was about 17 and got really bad whilst I was at uni. It burned and bled and I had to spend hours in the bath trying to soak it off. I felt so self conscious. About a year into uni I got a belly button piercing, because I really wanted it and felt good about myself. Inevitably the skin around it went bad. One of my friend's flatmates stared and stared at my belly one day, he wouldn't stop and eventually told me how gross it was and looked absolutely disgusted. Like I had any choice?! I've also had people recoil in horror and refuse to shake hands. My partner once got ringworm because his house was so filthy and damp, and said it was because he'd caught my skin disease. He knows perfectly well it's not catching but it still hurt like hell.
“ My weight has fluctuated between about 8.5 stone and a little over 13. When I was at my thinnest - probably underweight given that I'm 5'8" and big boned - I had plenty of days when I felt so fat I didn't want to leave the house. All because I got a slight crease in my belly when I sat down. Photos of me at the time look almost skeletal but I still felt fat. That's pretty screwed up.
“ The first person to tell me I was too fat was my dad. I was 12. I wasn't exactly huge, but he repeatedly said how I "needed to lose the puppy fat". At one point as I was developing he said "you're busting out of that dress". At the dinner table, to a self conscious teenager. I have never stopped worrying about my weight since and have had periods of disordered eating - the only reason I never got as far as full blown bulimia was because no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't make myself sick. Knowing my dad thought I was fat and ugly made the comments from kids at school sting even more. I was called "saggy tits" by kids three years below me for a while... A legacy partly of feeling too ashamed of my body to know how to ask my mum to get me a better bra.
“ I let my hair go grey a while ago. I’m 44 and completely grey now. I love it. I think it’s really pretty. I do know that it makes me look older and I actually get some push back from my Mom who is 72 and still dyes her hair, she said it makes me look really old. But so? I’ve earned every year and being whatever I want to be is ok.
“ Last weekend I was visiting my parents. My mom looked at my feet and said, "Wow! Why are your feet so wide?" I immediately felt self conscious. What kind of question is that? The answer is...because they are? It almost seemed like she actually thought I had chosen to have very wide feet. I know she didn't mean it to be hurtful. She just doesn't think before she makes comments sometimes.
“ If I stand with my feet together, my kneecaps point inwards towards each other. I was on a school residential trip in year 7 and another girl said "no offence, but if your feet are pointing that way how come your knees are going that way?" Avoided shorts and skirts for years after that.
“ I'm a woman who suffers from hormone imbalances which cause me to grow facial hair. I've been teased about it since school days. The most hurtful instance occurred when my father said to me -in front of my then- boyfriend -"You need to get rid of that hair. No man wants a woman who grows more moustache and beard than he does." He laughed it off, but I was devastated and spent the entire night on the phone crying to my mother. It's been 2 years and I still think about it frequently and ache a bit. I wax often. But I shouldn't have to. My body is disgusting to society. And it saddens me.
“ Society makes me feel like my body hair is abnormal and freakish. I feel I spend an inordinate about of time waxing, shaving, epilating, dying and plucking, particularly in the summer. I always have to think twice about going bare legged and I wouldn't dream of wearing swimsuit or bikini, just in case there are rogue hairs. It's become a real fear for me despite the fact it's totally natural and that makes me so sad.
“ I've been told I'm too fat, too big, too muscular, I was born with hormone issues my body shape isn't normal for a 'normal' woman, I have large shoulders, broad back and good strong arms. Think rugby player, then I have a large thick neck, not swan graceful or thin, always been on the heavy side, solid at first before pecos began, then the hair started and the weight gain. My husband told me I was too big, I was taller, too fat, too 'much', even my laughter was 'too much like a mans'. He belittled me over thirty years, ripped my self confidence to shreds every time we went out. There was no point 'dressing up' because 'we'd never find anything decent to fit those shoulders'. At work being compared to male workers and shamed for not shaving body hair, which if you have pecos comes back even darker and thicker than before. Told to get rid of your entire body hair because its the only way your husband will touch you and when you refuse finds someone else who will.
“ When in my early twenties, I felt pressurised to go for a drink with a bloke. Once he had got me to go out with him, he told me 'people look at your sister before they look at you because you limp'. When I asked him if that had been true for him, he said that it had been. I never spoke to him again. I've had at least one sleepless night about that and can't rule out having others in the future, even though the comment was said years ago and I am now happily married.
“ When I was in my early teens I was very tall and bony compared to the other kids. My legs been called straws and drum sticks. My knobbly knees have been made fun of in many ways. A neighbour of my grandparents even told my granny I am too tall and I got too ugly legs to ever find a husband. Later my legs were too fat to wear mini skirts or tight jeans. But. That was ever only women saying that. Took me till now - 55 - to get kind of over it. I am a British size 10.
“ I’ve been picked on since I was a child for the size of my nose, the shape of my face, my round tummy. I’ve had a weight problem all my life. I’ve looked into facial surgery many times. When I look in the mirror I hate what I see, I’ve even covered up the big long wardrobe mirrors in my room. Words can wound deeply!
“ I've been asked so many times if I've straightened my naturally curly hair before. People are always surprised when I say no and ask me if I would want to. As much as I do want straight hair sometimes, straightening my hair feels wrong and like I'm caving to other people's expectations of me.
“ I was getting ready for a gig once and I was really excited to wear my new band tee. I’d done my makeup, was feeling great, but when I came downstairs my parents wouldn’t stop talking about how fat I looked and asking “do you want to go out looking like that?”. I was wearing shorts and tights as it can get hot in arenas. I ended up having a horrible time at the gig because all I could think about was how I looked.
“ I am hugely anti-Trump, but I often get upset when people make remarks about things like his small hands, short fingers, and skin colour. I have a skin condition and also have small hands (especially the final digits) as do a number of members of my family due to a genetic condition related to dwarfism. Promoting lookism is not an appropriate way to engage with politics.