Anna Schultz-Girl Sitting On Bed Facing Wall

Why You Should Never Comment on Anyone's Body

 

I quite frankly do not remember the last time I was happy with the way my body looked. However, I remember vividly when I started to feel this way. 

 

I was really skinny as a child since I was really athletic and active in sports. Up until I was 12, I used to get comments about how fit or skinny I looked. I was only 10 when someone commented that I was going to grow up to be a professional athlete with a rocking body. At the time, I didn’t make anything out of it, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized how this praise I got for being skinny would affect me years later. When I started to go through puberty, my body went through several changes (duh), and one of them was that I gained weight. I didn’t realize it, until one day I overheard one of my brother’s friends say “hey, did your sister get fat?”. That was the moment I started to notice every single flaw about my body. 

 

When I moved to the United States a year and a half later, that took a toll on my mental health. I was homesick constantly, I was surrounded by strangers at school, and missed my friends. On top of that, I didn’t even speak English so I didn’t understand anything or anyone. Another thing I was struggling with was my body. After that comment, I started to work out more, told my mom to only cook healthy things, and avoided eating sugary snacks. When I moved here, I panicked since my perception of American food was that it was all full of sugar and fat, so, for me, it made sense that if I barely eat any, I wouldn’t gain any weight. My parents didn't even notice, and my dad even congratulated me on the fact that I was losing weight, which of course, only made it worse. It wasn’t until my mom noticed how skinny I got that they decided to feed me more and be careful what they say when I was around.

 

However, a couple years later, I had gained the weight back, so my dad started to make comments every time I was around food again. I also overheard one of my “friends” tell someone how she didn’t want to eat more cake because she didn’t want to look like me - at my own birthday party. I don’t think my dad nor my “friend” at the time ever understood how these little things could harm me. I started to workout excessively and restrict what I ate once again. When I was 16, I lost the weight, and people would keep saying how good I looked and how I was “body goals”. I’m sure they meant it as a compliment, but to me, it meant that the way I looked before was not okay, which only made me become even more obsessed with working out and eating as little as possible.

 

My senior year of high school I got a job, so I wasn’t able to workout as much, and everytime I came home, I was too tired to cook, so I would just eat the first thing I could find in the fridge. Sometimes it was healthy, sometimes, not as much. This resulted in me gaining weight again, which meant more comments from dad every time I was eating. I couldn’t really do anything, because again, I didn’t have the time to work out as much nor cook. This caused me so much stress and anxiety and I tried to hide my body as much as I could. Once I quit my job a couple months later due to school and other commitments, I started to work out excessively again. I also began restricting everything, which would only lead to me binging at the end of the night. This binging then working out excessively cycle followed me all the way to college.

 

My first semester of sophomore year, I hated my roommate so the only way I would cope with this was by going on benders and drinking heavily on the weekends. Of course, the alcohol caused me to gain weight. When I came home to visit my parents one weekend, I overheard one of my “friends” mention to someone about how fat I had gotten, and, once again, that caused me to hate myself and my body. When I went back to school second semester and I finally moved into a different room with a much, much nicer roommate, I decided to buy a gym membership and went everyday. If I wasn’t able to go because of homework or other things, I would literally cry. I felt horrible about myself, and once again the reason was some comment the person probably thought was nothing. 

 

During quarantine, I had to live under the same roof as my dad, which caused me a lot of stress. However, during this time, I had a lot of free time and I used it to work out and plan out my meals. I got in the best shape I have ever been honestly. My dad stopped making comments and I finally got the praise I used to get when I was little. On top of that, I was really proud of myself because I did it in a healthy manner. However, I didn’t realize how bad this would affect my mental health once I came back to East Lansing. My roommate and my friends were all super impressed with me and kept on complimenting me, which again, to me, this meant that the way I looked before was not okay. This recently has caused me a lot of stress and anxiety since I don’t have that much free time and I’m busy with school. I still workout almost everyday, I’m following the Pamela Reif workout program which I highly recommend, and I’m still trying to eat as healthy as possible, but add alcohol and a few sleepless nights to the mix, and my body gains weight. It’s become really hard for me not to fall into old patterns because I can see that my body is starting to look like it did before quarantine, and I’m not happy with that. Everytime I hang out with my friends, I can’t stop thinking about how bloated I’ll look in the morning because of the alcohol, and how I’ll have to work out. All of my friends said I look great and I don’t want to let them down.

 

I’m currently seeking a therapist and a nutritionist I can afford since I really want to change the way I feel about food and myself. It’s been way too long since I’ve been happy with my body and I’m tired of feeling like this. I wanted to share this personal story with you because I feel like I’m not the only one. In today’s society, it is very normal to criticize, hate, and cancel everyone and I feel like social media has morphed the way we live our lives and we look at ourselves and one another. So I just wanted to remind everyone that it is never okay to comment on anyone’s body. You don’t know what is going on in their lives. Even if you think it’s a compliment, it may be something different to that person. The only reason I began feeling like this and continued to feel like this was literally because of other people’s comments. If you want to compliment someone, comment on their hair, their eyes, their smile, their personality, or even the way they laugh. But trust me, if you have something to day about anyone’s body, even if you think it’s good: don’t. 

 

If you think you or someone you know is going through something like this, please seek help. I know it is easier said than done, but it’s the only way it’ll change. Text HOME to 741741 and they will connect with a Crisis Counselor.