The other day I was greeted by a colleague by her saying ‘You need to eat some food girl, there’s nothing of you!’ Literally the first thing she said to me, before even saying hello. I’m so used to phrases like this that I sucked up my pride and replied something about eating more than enough food thanks.
What if I had responded with ‘And you need to stop over-eating!’ in a similar non-caring way? She would probably have gone to our manager and complained about my behaviour. This happened a few months ago and in hindsight I should have said something. If it was outside of work I would have challenged the statement but in the working environment I didn’t hesitate to take the upper hand and take her comment.
It reminds me of all of the various ‘A real woman is’ and ‘a real woman does’ memes and posts on social media. Whether a woman is real or not is not determined on their appearance. A flat chested woman is a woman. A transitioning woman is a woman. A woman with a shaved head is a woman. A black woman is a woman. A muslim woman is a woman. A disabled woman is a woman. A person that is made of matter in the universe and deems themselves a woman is a woman. Should we not be focusing on being the healthiest version of ourselves, mind and body, whatever size and shape that makes us? Instead of fighting for a be all and end all perfect size, or to be what men want – (who cares?)
I have always been slim but I have never been medically underweight. My parents brought me up to eat well, eat often, and eat what I’m given, and I was always very active. On my year 6 school trip I received an award for ‘Eating seconds and thirds at breakfast, lunch and dinner’- I LOVE FOOD and always have done so trust me when I say that I’m grown up enough to make sure I get my fair share but people will make their own decisions on my food intake.
I was called anorexic throughout a lot of secondary school and was even given the unflattering nickname Stik. As I’m less active as an adult than I was as a child and my metabolism has slowed slightly. But when I’m around people like the one mentioned above I sometimes find I force myself to finish a meal even if I’ve already had a big meal beforehand because I don’t want to fuel their judgements. Why should someone else’s incorrect, judgemental views cause me to feel I need to make excuses for my behaviour?
Luckily I was brought up to be body confident and though there are always going to be things I want to change I LOVE the skin I’m in.
Next time you think to comment on someones appearance please think twice. Telling someone you think they are fat is not okay. Telling someone they look tired/unwell is not okay. Telling someone they don’t like like the gender they describe themselves as is not okay. Telling someone they look underweight IS NOT OKAY.
Repeat after me: Telling someone about their appearance is not okay.
As a woman, be the best that you can be, be the healthiest you can be and be the woman you want to be. That is what a real woman does and you are what a real woman is.
Photo by Ashley Charlotte Photography
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