I remember the first time I got called fat.
Actually, now that I think about it, that moment is one that I will never forget.
I was 13, and though I certainly went through my fair share of an awkward stage, I never considered myself fat. My mind was preoccupied with more important matters, like filling my diary with whimsical fantasies of marrying my childhood crush, or how mean my mom was being on a particular morning, when she wouldn’t let me have two toaster strudel for breakfast.
I was interested in boys at that time, but always seemed to fall into the “cute friend” category when it came to their interest in me.
I never thought that had anything to do with my weight, although I certainly will be the first to admit that I had noticed there were prettier (and skinnier) girls that they were more interested in.
Nevertheless, I knew clothes didn’t fit me the way that they fit other girls. I couldn’t wear certain “popular” brands, simply because they either didn’t go up to my size or I just couldn’t fit my body into them.
I have always been a curvy girl, but it never lowered my confidence or made it difficult for me to make friends. To me, I was beautiful and that was that.
Until that day.
I’ll make a long story short.
I LOVED Limited Too, like, a lot. Looking back on it now, I probably wore their clothes longer than I should have, but I loved their stuff.
Apparently, there was someone in my grade that made it their business to comment on my Limited Too outfits. Every. Single. Day.
She would tease me in front of our other friends, and while I knew they were only laughing to appease her, it hurt so badly to see their reactions.
I let her words sting me.
I kept quiet.
I maybe even pretended to laugh, just so I wasn't the only one not laughing.
But one day, I just snapped. I had had enough of being put down and insulted. I had had enough of being embarrassed in front of my friends. I had had enough of feeling bad about myself, simply because of my weight.
I looked her right in the eyes and said I really did not appreciate her comments and I would really like it if she could stop making them, because I really did not find the jokes, or her, to be funny.
Without a split second of consideration, she looked right back at me, and said it.
“Yeah well, you’re fat,”
I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes, and while I’m not afraid to cry in front of someone, I just couldn't bring myself to cry in front of her.
Being a 13-year-old, I let her words get to me. I let them eat away at me and question my beauty and my value. I wondered if I wasn’t pretty enough. Or thin enough.
Her words crushed me.
They knocked me down for sure and hurt like nothing I'd ever experienced before. I was hurt, but not broken. I got back up. I knew there was more to me than my appearance, but it isn't that easy for everyone.
It isn't always easy to bounce back from bullying. It isn't always easy to get back up.
This is how powerful words are.
I once heard an analogy that is so unbelievably fitting. Imagine squeezing out an entire tube of toothpaste and then being asked to put the toothpaste back into the tube.
Now imagine the toothpaste being words.
So please--let us teach our children how powerful their words are.
Because once they’re said, it’s hard to take them back.