A Lifetime of Leg Hating
I can remember the exact moment I became self conscious of my body. I was 12 and walking home from school when a boy I knew pointed at me, laughed, and said "Look how fat your legs are!"
I looked down at them and for the first time in my life I felt that my body was inadequate.
That moment has stayed with me forever, because that comment sparked a huge complex I had about my legs, something which still bothers me today. For years I only wore trousers and when I finally began wearing skirts and dresses, I always made sure I had tights or leggings on underneath, even in the Summer.
In fact, this Summer is the first since I was 12 that I have gone completely bare legged.
This wasn't the only cruel comment I received during my teenage years. At school the same boy and his group of friends repeatedly called me ugly, told me I looked like the moon because I was pale and had chicken pox scars, as well as picking on my clothing, hair, anything they could think of, really. Looking back, I realise that this was bullying, but at the time I just accepted it and allowed the comments to feed the negative image I had of myself.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not naive enough to think that I would have loved my body 100% if I hadn't heard those comments. We all know that young girls are subjected to representations of what they 'should' look like in the media and compare themselves to those around them. But I know I wouldn't have hated my body as much as I did if I hadn't been told on a regular basis that I was no good.
I doubt that boy has even the faintest idea of the impact he had on my self worth and body image. In fact, he's passed me in the street more than once without so much as a second glance. Does it make me angry? In a way, yes. I'm angry that people like him get away with causing so much damage. I was lucky that I eventually learned to love myself, but there are plenty of girls who are deeply, emotionally scarred by such knocks to their self esteem. Not just girls who feel the need to wear a mask of make-up or go under the surgeon's knife, but girls who turn to self-harm and even suicide as a result of negative body image.
It has taken me nearly all of my teenage years to even begin to love my body and appreciate it. Now, I surprise myself when I realise that I don't care when my friends talk about how they need to lose weight, or how they wish this was smaller or that was bigger. I am in a place where I have accepted myself. I am in a place where what people think of my body is of little relevance to me anymore. I know I am short, I know I'm curvy and I know I'm pale. But above all, I know that I am a beautiful person and no negative comment from a teenage boy is going to convince me otherwise. I just wish more girls felt that way.
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