While I wasn’t disqualified by a referee for my school-issued uniform revealing too much bare body, I was taunted by my opponent for my uniform being too small and tight. I know how uncomfortable and self-conscious I felt, so I can only imagine how this young, innocent swimmer suffered when her hard-earned win was stripped from her because of her appearance.
Before you shame anyone, please think about this:
I was recovering from the most paralyzing eating disorder at the time my opponent had the audacity to make fun of how tight my uniform fit. My school didn’t have the luxury to purchase new uniforms every season. Therefore, I was wearing the uniform from the previous season when I was unhealthily underweight, depressed, and suffering in more ways than a referee or opponent could imagine.
While it may have appeared to her that I was fat, overweight, and unhealthy, it was, in fact, the opposite. I was the healthiest and happiest I had been in a long time, and her fat-shaming me shattered my pride. I wanted so badly at the moment to go back to what I looked like before.
If she only knew…
The entire year prior I was fighting what felt like a losing battle—a debilitating illness. I starved myself, exercised excessively, and the only thing I was able to think about or focus on was food. My pants were falling off of me, my sweatshirts swallowed me whole, and I was weak and frail.
So, while she was just trying to smack-talk and get me off my game, it touched me on a much greater level.
Body shaming doesn’t just hurt people’s feelings. It has the potential to endanger their health too.
To the girl who was body shamed by the referee and to anyone else who has been a victim of this: Know that you are beautiful, inside and out, and deserve to feel happy, healthy, and proud. You get to decide how that looks, not some random jerk.