TGIT! Most of you are probably prepping for your Scandal parties. Before completely focusing on the amazing creativity of Shonda Rimes, take a second to look over this question.
I stumbled upon this post on tumblr. Instantly, I remembered my time in summer camp around the ages of 9 and 11. My experience one summer, in particular, shaped my view of myself for years. I still struggle with this experience.
This post inspired me to make a post in hopes of learning more about one’s development of negative body image. What event or occurence made you feel as though you are unworthy because of how you look?
For me, it was my experience at my 2nd grade teacher’s summer program. My granny enrolled me in the program because she was a working mom. She didn’t have anyone to watch me so she sent me to the summer program while she worked. The kids in my grade and age range one year were mostly male. Some of them were older. Some of them were my age. And one of them was a year younger. My fourth grade teacher was the instructor for my age range. The former kindergarten teacher took care of the little ones. Another lady, with whom I was unfamiliar until the program taught the middle aged kids.
My body developed significantly faster than the other girls in my grade. I was heavier than the other girls and my breasts were already beginning to grow. Before this particular summer, I hadn’t realized that I was much different. More importantly, I didn’t truly understand the concepts of beauty or ugliness. I can still hear one boy making fun of my stretch marks. Since we wore uniforms, my knee caps and arms were covered. The summer sun exposed me to a lot more than wasps and intense heat. The stretch mark comments was the beginning of the destroying of my self esteem as well as the establishment of my negative self worth. Daily, my appearance – my developing body, was the subject of much scrutiny from the boys. They’d dig around and take turns roasting me. It’s was a game to them. Hurting my feelings. Picking on me. One of the guys had a “crush” on me and showed his affection by belittling my facial features, and my flabby arms covered with stretch marks. When the teacher would see them huddled close to me, she’d yell at me. “Why are you always around those boys?”, was the question she’d asked me time and time again. Never once did she question their activity. It was my fault. Never once did she check to see if I was ok. Before this summer, I’d never understood what ugly was and ugliness felt until I became it. Interactions with this group of guys worsened thought out that summer. My behavior changed.I Became withdrawn. One day I told my granny what was happening to me, and yet again I was reprimanded. Reprimanded for not telling her sooner. My silence hit me in trouble. Two of the boys in the group were brothers. During one of the “lets pick on Nora” sessions , the edest brother said to the group, “She’s not that bad.” “She’s actually beautiful.” Sometimes I wonder if they remember that summer. How they went home and slept peacefully. How being so destructive came to them with such ease. I’ve struggled with my weight since that summer and their treatment of me fucked me up. That’s the best way to say it. I began to worry about my weight at 10. At 10, I was awakened to an unhealthy ideal- painful love. We shouldn’t hurt those we love. We shouldn’t hurt who we love.
Love shouldn’t hurt. This boy’s way of getting me on his level was through destroying my self perception. Next, I leaned to keep men at a distance. This lesson still negatively influences my life. I won’t allow myself to connect intimately with men because I always remember getting it trouble. My teacher didn’t protect me, she persecuted me. My granny chastised how I handle the situation. Lastly, I leaned that I am not good enough. I learned that my appearance is more important than my character. I learned so many destructive concepts from that experience. Years after, my family, peers, and the media, continued to socialize me. They continued to reaffirm my inferiority. They continued to shove ugliness down my throat, into my brain. Today, at 22, I struggle with something that happened to be at the age of 10. I’m struggling to desire to be more than a pretty face or a beautiful body. What is a beautiful body? Who set these standards that ostracize me? Why should I abide by these constructs?
My battle has just begun. I am just now gathering the strength to challenge these negative views that were forced on me. I still struggle with the idea that I will never love because of my brown skin, large body, coarse hair, and “regular” features. My God made me a queen and I’m trying to accept the throne. Most days I don’t feel worthy but I’m learning to love myself as he loves me.
I do hope that those boys see this post. I want them to know how they damaged me. At 10, they destroyed me. I want them to know that I’m working on healing the wounds that they inflicted upon me. I will be victorious. I hope that you will be more kind to your daughters, girlfriends, wives, sisters, nieces, cousins, and mothers. Also, I hope yoh teach your sons to be better people. Teach them to be kind. Teach them that they are stronger than the need to fit it, more valiant than peer pressure. To any teachers or counselors, please be careful in your response to situations. Asking questions is a pertinent part to adequately assessing situations. Your influence can either scar or provide comfort. Please be aware of your power.
Many of you may question my decision to share this post. Bullying and abuse (in all forms) begin at earlier stages of childhood. Highschool isn’t the start of one’s development of negative self esteem. I was 10. While this development isn’t solely female identified, it’s important to discuss. We all have stories. We all have the particular events that shape who we are. Some events are catastrophic. Others are glories. If we don’t reflect on what made us, we’ll never be able to create positive lives for ourselves.
When did you first realize that your appearance could be problematic? When did you begin to form negative thoughts of yourself? What’s your story? How is your journey going? Please share! I’d love to hear from you!