I would really like to get something off my chest. Something that happened yesterday that has been bothering me since. And although it might seem an insignificant thing, it has larger ramifications.
Yesterday I changed my profile picture on Facebook. Not really a big deal. It's what happened next that has me in a bit of a kerfuffle, so to speak. Within minutes, a certain individual thought it was imperative to let me know that I looked like I had "gained a couple of pounds." I haven't. In fact, I've lost a couple of pounds. I am, however, wearing a somewhat baggy jacket in the photo, which is actually an older photo of me:
I'm not here to defend my weight, honestly, though it is a bit of a pride issue, too. The point is, I don't care who you are and I don't care who you're talking to, you have absolutely no right to say something like that to an individual, especially not in a public forum. Obviously there are exceptions (like medical) but I stand by what I say.
All of us have malicious thoughts. Whether we're seeing a person who may have been mean to us at a certain point of our lives or a friend who may have put on a few pounds, we can't help thinking to ourselves sometimes "oh, wow!" or "they look different" or something along those lines. That's natural. From that thought, though, we have a choice. We can choose to share with them our negative impression of their body or we can choose to keep it to ourselves and go by the mantra "if you don't have something nice to say." I prefer the latter, personally.
Nobody is perfect and sometimes we can't control the thoughts that pop into our heads. But as long a those thoughts stay there, no harm is done. It is when you make the conscious decision to body shame someone that I have a problem with.
Now, this isn't the first time something like this has happened to me. A lot of people seem to think that because I'm mildly attractive and on the fitter side of life that it's okay to talk to me in any way they see fit and comment on my body, because I obviously have a lot of confidence and I won't be offended by it.
Wrong. Wrong, wrong, WRONG. Everyone is insecure to an extent and hearing constant criticism regarding the way you look isn't the best way to maintain a healthy body image. I feel like a fair number of people would be shocked, or at the very least surprised, to find out how I really feel about myself. A lot of people have even said to me that there's a fair number of people who would kill to look like me, so I'm not allowed to feel poorly about myself. To make an exaggerated analogy, I feel like that's akin to saying, "you're not allowed to feel hungry because people in this world are starving."
So, what I'm trying to get at is think before you speak. You don't know how words that to you may seem harmless may affect someone else. You don't know what that person is going through. Maybe they're feeling really, really terrible about themselves and you've now sent them over the edge. Maybe they're struggling with serious body dysmorphic disorder and just needed that one little push to fall into full anorexia. Or maybe they were having a really great day and now it just got a bit sour. I'm not saying you're responsible for the mental health of everyone out there, but you are responsible for your own actions and choices, and deliberately trying to make people feel bad about themselves shouldn't be a choice anyone makes.
I could have told this person off. I could have turned right back around and made a snide comment in return, designed to hurt back and hurt worse. But I didn't. I deleted the comment, and I blocked the person. And that was my choice.
Sorry about the serious, and perhaps depressing, tone of this post. It's a widespread issue that I feel truly passionate about and I just needed to get it out of my system.