Sometimes we miss the good old days of being a carefree kid, when we didn’t mind if our outfit wasn’t on trend or our baby belly was extra rotund one day. But image insecurities don’t always wait until adulthood to set in. In fact, for Megan Jayne Crabbe, it was quite the opposite. The British body-positivity blogger and author recently took to Instagram to share her experience with body shaming at a young age.
For the post, Crabbe shared two side-by-side images: one of her as a 4-year-old in a pink polka-dot bathing suit, and the other as an adult in a pink bra and underwear set. On top of the childhood photo, she wrote, “already believes that fat is the worst thing she could be,” and below the recent photo, “finally knows that her weight has nothing to do with her worth.” We have to say she looks perfect in both pics, but that doesn’t mean she felt that way.
“How long did it take you to believe that your body was wrong?” she asks in her caption. “For me, 4 years was all the time it took to soak up the message that fat was the worst thing that I could be. Worse than mean. Worse than selfish. Worse than rude. Fat was the worst of the worst. A handful of years living in our culture will do that to you.”
She blames that on “diet culture wherever you turn — adverts telling you that weight loss is the key to happiness on our screens, in our magazines, whenever we walk down a billboard lined street. Constant whispers of pounds lost and calories regretted, endless praise of people who’ve managed to shrink their bodies by any means necessary.” Crabbe points out that even the 5 percent who do fit “societal standards of beauty fall short against the work of a photoshop wand, erasing every lump, bump, crease, mark, scar, blemish and hair.”
She challenges her 867,000 followers with a question: “How can we believe that our bodies are worth something when we never see them positively represented around us?”
“Rampant fatphobia passed off as ‘just a joke’, ‘for their own good’, or ‘out of concern’. Fat people in our society are instantly labelled as lazy, ugly, unintelligent, unworthy, a burden,” she accuses. She suggests this teaches that being fat is being less than — less valuable, less worthy of respect, and less deserving of the space you take up. “We forget that our human value has nothing to do with our size, and that nobody should be treated as less than human simply for how their body looks,” Crabbe proclaims.
And it doesn’t take a 4-year-old, even, to feel affected by these lessons, she says, speaking from her own experience. “We take in the messages younger than we think. We hear how the people around us talk about their bodies and the bodies of others. We see the images. We see ourselves. We notice the difference… We have to fight back.”
Luckily, Crabbe is finally at a place in her life where she knows her body is beautiful. But she urges us to work harder now so that childhood isn’t tainted by shame and insecurity for anyone else. Not only are there way more important things to worry about as a child — like where your Barbie is or what’s for dessert — early exposure to such shaming can make us more susceptible to eating disorders. And Crabbe, who combated anorexia, is living proof.
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