Ana G. Valdes
Sometimes when I distance myself from reality, when I isolate myself from everyone and the world, I think about how adults can get away with anything to do with children, make them feel like sh*t and walk away without any consequences, while the child sufferers alone.
As a kid, I was always skinny and not because of my so-called “fast-metabolism” that I lied about at the age of 11 so kids wouldn’t look at me weirdly when I told them I take medicine that controls my weight and my brain. When I was roughly in fourth grade, I had problems when it came to consuming food. I didn’t have a healthy relationship with it growing up. When I hit 13 years old, it improved and I started to eat more. I was happier with my healthier weight. But remember, when I said that adults can get with anything while the child suffers, yea? Well, this is where it all happened. As I started to gain a little more weight, it started to get a little bit more noticeable. One day, as I was eating in my aunt’s home, my father had the pleasant idea of calling my weight out in front of my family members and laughed about it. The worst thing about it is that he knew all along. I was still insecure about gaining weight and as a playful joke he decided to call his daughter fat. At that moment, I felt like my heart fell out of my ass. I felt empty. Now of course, the adults are going to take my father’s side and also call it a joke. I’m 18 years old now, and till this day I still remember that joke. And everytime I hear that joke going through my head, it makes me wanna throw away my favorite dish to the trash can.
Culture and ethnicity also influence the body image of society, contributing to beauty trends and what we see on social media. I know how these comments are heavily normalized in the hispanic community, because I’m part of that community. I’ve watched parents embarrass their own kids in front of me. Although, from the looks of it, it seems like most folks my age seem quite uncomfortable when older people make comments about their bodies. But the gender I’ve seen people love to focus on more when it comes to body shaming are women. I’m not saying that men don’t get body shamed also because they do. But unless you are blind or ignorant, body shaming goes towards women more. When I think about it more, it’s rooted in internalized misogyny. It might sound like I’m making a huge deal about body shaming. Just be aware of who you bring shame to when making comments about someone’s image.
Some parents don’t notice the damage they have done to their own children until it’s too late. Some parents might see and not care about the damage, others do. My mother always said I was a “dramatic” child. An event occurred when I was 14 years old. I was immediately taken into the emergency room. My mother thought I was faking the problem for attention. I wasn’t. Now, you see the problem here? A mother not trusting her daughter’s suffering. It wasn’t until the medics informed her that I was, in fact, not being dramatic, that she stopped making remarks. My mother saw the damage too late. I needed her and she didn’t see the damage earlier. I was sent to four therapists within a two year span. None of them helped. If I’m being honest, they made it worse. During my senior year of high school, my mom found me a therapist who I actually like. I’ve been going to therapy for a year with the same therapist, and I don’t regret a thing. I have set boundaries with my parents and encouraged myself to try new things. I have tried putting my mental health before anything else, and for now that’s the best I can do.