Kayla Griffin: "There isn't a 'right' way to have a body."
For the month of September, the GirlSense & NonSense blog will feature guest writers who have something to say about body shaming and our #NoShame campaign. Feel free to join in on the conversation by leaving a comment.
I’m 5’7 and 110 lbs.…and I shouldn’t have to apologize for it.
I’ve always been skinny; it just happens to be my genetics. As a child I was told constantly that I was “gangly”, which made me feel like some kind of awkward gremlin.
Gangly… just didn’t sound normal.
It was the first word that ever made me feel like I was bad, ugly, or wrong for something I had no control over.
For the first time my body became the center of attention, before I had the chance to understand who I was as I person. I was learning to hate ‘what’ I was.
When I became a teenager and my body stayed thin, the shaming became much worse. At age 16, I was a size 0, XS, petite. Problem was that I was tall too and my height made me look thinner. This was the year I learned that food was not something to just be enjoyed or something necessary for life. I had to be particular about what I ate and where I ate it. I had never been concerned about eating in front of people. I usually ate alone and then I had noticed a pattern. At first, it was just one person, then the crowd grew. “Kayla, you’re so skinny! You need to eat! If you turn sideways you’ll disappear!” Worse, my teachers began to pull me off to the side or send me to the nurse to ask if I was anorexic or if my family needed help buying food. So, instead of enjoying my meals peacefully I started to bring my food and eat in front of as many people as I could. I’d look around and make sure people saw me eat. I posted pictures on Myspace (that was thing then) of me devouring large slices of pizza.
Instead of just eating my food I had to start putting on a show.
Adulthood…19, the year I learned how my body became a vulgar joke and not just MY body. 19, 5’7 and 108 pounds. I finally began to feel comfortable with the fact that I looked like a woman. My breasts had finally grown in (they were small but there) and my hair was long. I noticed that men started to look at me differently.
As a teenager men would look at me with concern, like they were worried I was starving. Now, my thinness seemed to be an invitation. People I hardly knew, men and women alike, felt like because I was skinny they had permission to grab me. I can’t even count the amount of times some random person would grab my wrist and comment about how easily they could break it. However, the worst comment I had ever heard was from a guy in one of my college classes. He grabbed my wrist, chuckled, and remarked how he was ‘thicker’ than me and asked if I was small everywhere else too. Classy.
The good news…age 25. My weight is no longer a problem to people. I don’t get bashed, I don’t get grabbed, I rarely have someone say “you need to eat”.
Now people just make snide remarks about my age and why I haven’t started producing offspring.
Here’s the thing: skinny shaming is real and it is damaging. I am not discrediting other forms of body shaming. Body shaming of any kind is horrendous and it destroys people’s lives. It is amazing how much effort is put into hurting others for how they look, how they act, or how they exist. There isn’t a ‘right’ way to have a body.
Skinny shaming is bad, curve shaming is bad, woman shaming is bad, male shaming is bad, same-sex-love shaming is bad, race shaming is bad, age shaming is bad. SHAMING is BAD.
Whew, needed to get that off my chest. Now go out there looking however the heck you want and fall in love with yourself, know every inch of you and love it all.