I attended my first lesson in self hatred probably way before I was 9 years old, but this time is my first recollection that comes to mind. I was at my grandmother’s house for a sleepover with my cousins, and to save time, we usually all bathed together. At 9 years old, I had already grown boobs, and was utterly terrified of my body. As my cousin and I were undressing, my grandmother sat on the side of the bathtub, waiting patiently for it to fill up. I could feel the burning of her eyes on my skin, so I folded my clothes and looked at her. Her eyes went back and forth from me to my cousin. She then laughed and said “Wow, Taylore. You’ve gotten a lot bigger than [cousin] you should probably stop eating a lot.”
That was all it took for me to start hating myself. I started looking in the mirror more. I started comparing myself to other girls, which no 9 year old girl should be doing. I started wearing tight bras, hoping they’d hide my incoming boobs. All before I even turned double digits.
Now, I’m not saying the self deprecation of my teen years was all of my grandmother’s blame. All teenage girls lack self-love and appreciation at some point. However, mine came way too soon. 9 years old is incredibly young to count calories.
My friends started getting that way too, saying that their parents had pointed out that they had gotten too chubby, or that their skin was too flaky. One of my friend’s mom had her run a mile everyday because she wasn’t skinny enough. Another friend’s parents locked up the pantry until they decided it was time for food.
Both of the before mentioned girls developed eating disorders and mental health problems in high school. One of them even went to a hospital for a long time after she stopped eating. The other attempted suicide.
At 9 years old, we weren’t supposed to be constantly checking the mirror and starving ourselves to be beautiful. At 9 years old, we were supposed to be scampering amongst the playground in a state of imagination. Fighting off armies, presiding over a royal court, swinging through vines atop the Rainforest. Instead, some of my generation skipped out on that part of their life to make sure they were losing weight. We grew up way too fast.
Because instead of teaching us to love yoga and fruit, you taught us we needed to be skinny.
Because instead of showing us that 6 meals a day, including snacks, is better for your metabolism, you taught us we needed to be skinny.
Because instead of letting us be kids and knowing we will figure it out for ourselves, you taught us we needed to be skinny.
Because instead of teaching us to be healthy about our lives, you gave us all eating disorders.
I’m not saying that our parents have everything to do with our outlook on things, but they kinda do. Who raised us? They practically put ideas into our heads since the moment we were born. Sure, as we got older, we made things for ourselves. Which is why now, I can look back and wish I had learned to be healthy rather than starving myself just to look like a size 0. I learned myself as I got older.
I lost some of my childhood trying to be skinny instead of playing pretend. I should have played pretend more.
I say all of this in hope for a better future, where our children can stay playing pretend for a few more years. I for one, want to teach my children healthy habits, such as eating a granola bar for a snack, rather than a bag of chips. The longer they can put off self-hatred the better. Who knows? Maybe with our parenting, we can help depression rates go down. I want to teach my children to love themselves for who they are, instead of hate themselves for what they’re not.
We should have been slaying the giant, not slaying ourselves.
Until next time,