We’re not supposed to worry about what others think of us, right? From an early age, we are taught to ignore bullies and not care what everyone else thinks or says about us because who cares what they think? Just do your own thing and if they don’t like you then screw them. It’s not their place to judge us. That’s so easy to say. But the truth is, I always did care. I would say screw them in my mind, but I would still secretly have so many negative thoughts about myself. Kids would whisper to each other in front of me. “Are they talking about me?” Someone might laugh and I would wonder if they were laughing at me. Crazy, right?
What caused this kind of negative mentality? My mom.
Well, let’s start with my grandma. My mom’s mother was a very negative, angry, judgmental woman. This was the type of person where if her child made her bed for her as a surprise, instead of saying thank you, she would tear it apart and remake it, because it wasn’t, in her opinion, done “perfectly.” On a few occasions, she told my mom she was ugly, and when the family would watch movies or tv together, she would criticize the actor’s appearances (call them fat or they have an ugly nose, etc.). As you can imagine, growing up in these circumstances, my mom was taught a very negative way of thinking. You wouldn’t know this if you met her. You would see that she is one of the sweetest people ever. She is very kind and generous and has always tried to help people whenever she could, which is why it was always confusing and upsetting when her strange side would come out. I’ve always been really skinny, but that didn’t save me from my mom’s judgment. Throughout my teenage years, she mentioned on several occasions that I should work out and not eat too much because I might start to get a double-chin like my aunt and not to let my thighs get any bigger. Once when I was wearing a bikini, she told me my butt was saggy and I should do squats. When I was as young as 14, she told me many times she told me I should do push ups to make sure I build up my pectoral muscles so that my boobs don’t sag. She would mention my cousins on my dad’s side of the family and tell me they didn’t exercise so their boobs hang down to their bellies. My older sister would even join in. Even now, since I’ve had kids, they have both mentioned how my breasts are lower than they used to be. What is my family’s obsession with my breasts?! They would also make comments about the way I did my hair and they didn’t like the way I did my makeup, they didn’t like my style of clothing, and they would pick out clothes for me to wear at the store that they decided were better.
With all this criticism and judgement around me, how was I supposed to go through life without caring what people think about me? I became this awkward, shy weirdo because of this and at 27 years old I still struggle with this. Afraid to wear a swimsuit because of my saggy butt, afraid to wear shorts because of my cellulite, afraid my “double chin” is sticking out. Not having a style of my own. My body has carried, given birth to, and fed two beautiful children and no it doesn’t look like it used to, but who cares? It’s my own. Look at the amazing things my body has done! I’m a grown woman and I should be comfortable with my body and not care what other people think of it. I should have told my mom how she made me feel a long time ago. I should have told her I was sorry her mom treated her like crap, but that she needed to stop doing this to me and change this negative pattern that is in our family so that it doesn’t continue. I should have told her how sad she made me and how paranoid she made me.
I have two daughters and I am NOT going to continue this pattern. I am going to tell my girls they are beautiful and smart and talented and I’m never going to make bad comments about the way my children look. I want them to be confident in their abilities and to be happy and healthy. Isn’t that more important than what you look like anyway?
If someone close to you gives you constructive criticism or health tips, that is one thing. But if they are not helping you and instead are constantly making negative comments, tearing you down, and making you think everyone is judging you too, let them know. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about the way you look.