When new braces were moulded onto me to wear, they would cut into my skin and I would have to rub my bleeding skin down with surgical spirits each night until it toughened up and got used to the structure and pressure of the new brace. My parents were told that this illness meant that there was no guarantee until treatment began, if I would grow and develop like other children. I did, thankfully. I grew spectacularly. I was 5 ft 8 by the age of 14. Towering over any boy or girl of my age. And although healthy, I was bone thin due to a mix of my natural DNA and wearing my tight brace which pulled in my waist, sides and back.
I had to be excluded from swimming and some PE classes in school, always singled out sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else participate,feeling like an outcast. Due to how other teenagers viewed and commented on this brace jutting out from underneath my school uniform making me look like a Transformer ready to morph, I preferred to stay at home, study and prepare for better things when my back was better. I had a small group of amazing friends who always looked after me and the most supportive parents in the world who encouraged me to stick out the treatment as they wanted the best possible outcome and future for me. But most amusingly of all, I was subjected to Skinny Bashing by other females for many years, something that disgusts me today when I see it online or hear it in public.
If I had a penny for every female during and after those years who took it upon themselves to casually comment (expecting me to find it endearing!) on how I was a 'skinny bitch' 'too thin' 'shut up you, you're skinny what would you know about weight issues' ...I could go on.
As females, we exist in a culture where we applaud curvy women, yet think it's totally acceptable to pass comment on women under a certain scale size in a negative way. Irish model Roz Purcell was cruelly attacked on Instagram by a flock of over opinionated women last year for putting up a picture of her lean body. She is a beautiful, healthy girl who doesn't drink, is a training athlete and runs one of the best food blogs in Ireland. Actress Keira Knightly has spoken out about how her naturally thin shape and metabolism has attracted negative comments from women through the years.
So why is it deemed ok to comment on a healthy, happy woman's appearance if she's skinny in a negative manner? If I were to be so rude as to reply and tell someone they were, in my opinion, a little overweight, I would be the worst person in the world!
Why comment at all? Who are we to judge each other based on appearance alone?
Modern culture, media, scantily clad pop stars are very often blamed for sending out the wrong message about being thin. I think we are using those mediums as an excuse when it's everyday women in public, face to face, or on the internet thinking it's acceptable to comment on other women's physique that sets the bad example, is the root of the problem and breeds this type of shape bullying.
Whose business is it what shape or size I am? Who are you to judge me whether I am a size 8 or a size 20? As women, don't comment on men's size. 'He's a fine size', 'he's beautiful as he's curvy'..? You never hear those remarks from women about men or men about men! So why are women doing it to each other as women? Perhaps they are vocalizing their own personal insecurities in knocking other women for how they look?
I am thankful for every single day I wore that brace now. It showed me through the words and actions of other females, exactly the type of person I was sure I didn't want to become as an adult- ignorant and judgemental.
Those 4 years shaped me as a person, made me ambitious, driven, mature and compassionate to anyone facing challenges. They made me study hard so I would have better opportunities than the 'cool' girls in school who bullied and sniggered and drank on street corners at weekends. I stayed in, studied hard and focused on all the positives.
Thanks to my parents support and investment in my health all those years ago, I am not only tall at 5 ft 10 but I am compassionate. Compassionate to women who are subjected to judgemental comments by other women on whether they are skinny or large. When I come across it still today, I put it down to ignorance. You don't know what's going on in someone's life, you shouldn't judge another person based on appearance alone, drawing your own conclusions for why they look the way they do. It's time women stopped judging each other on appearance and supported and encouraged each other more. Life is short and everyone is fighting their own personal battles.
If you told the 9 year old me back then that I would be scouted at 17 to be a model, become a finalist in the Shell Young Entrepreneur of the Year and by 23 open my own award winning Irish Model Agency providing employment for over 50 models sized 8-18 aged 6-60, I would have retreated back to my bedroom in disbelief, reflected on the skinny bashing I would have encountered that day.....and studied hard in the hope that some day, it might happen! Xo
Body shaming needs to stop!