Girls Hate Their Bodies

Why do girls hate their body from such a young age?

Blunt opening, I know, but it is a question that I cannot stop thinking about lately.

I remember the first time I was unhappy with my body in shocking lucidity. Before this point, I had never even thought about what my body looked like. I never thought that other girls were skinnier than I was, or what size clothes I wore. As I child in elementary school, I remember comparing heights with other students, but weight never crossed my mind until this point.

I was seven years old. I was staying at my grandparents’ house like I did every summer day and every evening after school while my parents worked. A girl, that was a year younger than I, lived down the street from my grandparents. On occasion, this girl would come down to my grandparents’ house and we would play, not unlike any other elementary school play date. I have a vivid memory of sitting on a bench outside in the hot afternoon sun. I had on a pair of purple shorts. I remember looking down at my friend and I’s thighs and noticing that my thighs were much larger than hers were. This was the first time I realized that I weighed more and was bigger than my peers. I have always had trouble with not hating my legs since this moment.

The sad and ironic thing about this, aside from the fact that I was a little seven year old girl with body loathing thoughts, was that this girl was not healthy. I do not think this girl had a comfortable living situation, and while I have not seen her for years, I have seen her other family members on the news being arrested for drugs and other activities. I of course do not know details of her family life, but for all I know, she could have been malnourished and not have had access to food. While I am blessed and lucky to have always had more than enough food provided to me, I was comparing myself to a fellow young, innocent, naïve girl who may have been under seriously sad conditions.

I had everything. I had food. I had people who loved and cared for me unconditionally. I had a roof over my head. I had clothes. I had a family who supported and encouraged my education. I had everything, but she was skinny, so I envied her.

As we get older, skinniness just becomes more and more glorified in the mass media. The entire culture is obsessed with weight loss, which causes everyone to question their own dietary and fitness habits, even if the habits they have in place are already working.

I did not have healthy eating habits for the majority of my life, and over the last year and a half, I have completely changed my lifestyle. This has been such an amazing switch in my life. I have tried so many more foods, and my eyes have been opened to a whole new world of fueling my body properly. I feel so much better about my new habits, and I now have a passion for cooking, nutrition, health, and helping others to have other healthy lifestyles.

Despite this, I often feel like I am being criticized for my habits. Because I am a total type A personality who is also a perfectionist, my drive to be healthy sometimes causes me to go a little overboard. If I do overindulge and eat food devoid of nutritional value, I begin to once again have self-loathing thoughts. I like to have control of things, so I find comfort in knowing the exact nutritional value of everything I put in my mouth, along with the number on the scale the next morning. I also like to please people. When I began to lose weight because of switching up my lifestyle, people asked if I was sick. I really do appreciate people’s concern for my health, but I honestly cannot stand people pointing out how much I do or do not eat. Not only is this annoying, it becomes even more toxic to my love of measurements and numbers.

I also just love how no matter how exciting things may be in my life, the first thing people bring up is my weight. Is that really all they think I have to offer? Does it matter that I just started my senior year and my first real college class that I am performing well in? Apparently not. No one asks about that. People ask if I am hungry.

When people ask or point out the quality or quantity of what I eat, I begin to focus more on how much I am putting in my body. If I realize what I have eaten is “a lot” or “not healthy,” I cannot lie, I become a little disgusted with myself. I can’t explain why, because it is irrational. It is not who I am. I believe people should eat what they want to eat, when they want to eat it, as long as they are aware of their indulgences taken in moderation.

This whole believing that people should eat what they want to eat thing, I believe other people should. For some reason, I sometimes don’t practice what I preach, and I make tons of excuses why I, personally, should not follow my advice and not strictly monitor what I eat. I think that people work out more often and more intensely than I do. I convince myself that I snack more than any normal person should. I think that other people’s metabolisms are probably faster than my own. I think these things because I am afraid of being imperfect, and I am afraid of seeing a number go up on a scale, and I am afraid of being “unhealthy.” Ridiculous, I know.

If you’re thinking, “Wow these teenage girls are dumb,” I understand where you come from, but this is not the reason for being uncomfortable with my weight. I do not care what others think about my body. I just don’t know what is right. My near obsession with food is fueled by my own struggle to find perfection that does not exist. This is the last type of perfection I should be striving for. I have so much more to offer the world than a small pant size.



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About Sweet and Savvy

My name is Savannah and I am a teenage girl and a complete optimist with passions for learning, helping people, nutrition and enjoying every minute of life to its fullest!

Posted on September 4, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 41 Comments.

  1. By far, the best post I’ve read today. Well done girl. <3

  2. Amazing post. Thank you. What a direct, honest post…love the quote about girls not deciding to hate their bodies, but that we teach it. So true. This post just made my bloglist for the day! Am adding you to: My Happy Places(s). Would love to have you guest post. Seriously, I cannot say enough about a woman your age offering this to the world! Bravo! This is EXACTLY what we need!
    Thanks again!

  3. My family would always comment on how I ate and it just made me so angry. I don’t like the judgements on how I look or what I’m eating. Eventually positive comments even annoyed me. I felt like no one cared about who I really was and only my appearance mattered. And I’m especially annoyed when my dad and grandma commented on me, who are overweight, telling me I need to eat more. Like they know how much to eat is healthy anyway.

  4. “I often feel like I am being criticized for my habits. Because I am a total type A personality who is also a perfectionist, my drive to be healthy sometimes causes me to go a little overboard.” — I am the same way!!

    Great post and a topic that so many people suffer and deal with! I try not to judge myself but there are days where it happens, and than I feel guilty because I am so blessed for the life I do have and I need to cherish it not kill it by negative thoughts!! :)

  5. This is a great post; I hope young girls have access to articles like this so they realize weight is just a number. I remember my elementary school did weigh ins every month – not in private – and everyone would pick on the girls who weighed more than the skinny ones; it was a heartbreaking experience for many of the girls, and probably mentally tormented them.

  6. Savannah, I can only echo what others have said. This is a direct and courageous post, and your businesslike attitude to making sure you eat healthily is refreshing. Wonderful read.

  7. Such a great post Savannah, and I am so glad you finished writing it. Putting these sort of thoughts on paper can be quite difficult and mentally tough, but you did great getting this out!
    I was also quite young when I became aware that I was larger than my friends and it was at that point I started to dislike my body.
    You are so right, we have so much more to offer to the world than a small pant size… and although we forget this sometimes, a constant reminder will pull us out

  8. I love the last line… so true! Body images do haunt us from an early age. I was one of those not skinny kids… I dieted under the age of 10. However it was normal in my house. I grew up with WW points, and food scales, for my mom who was never overweight, but always thought she should be the same weight she was in the early 70s before we were born and she graced the halls of high school.
    We do teach our young kids everything, from someone who works in early learning, modelling is the biggest influence on young kids. If you hate your body, most likely your kids will too! Thanks for finding me, so I could read this! Nikki

  9. Beautiful post Savannah. I love how you ended it too and its so true! I’m the same way for perfection-I’m a complete A type. Such a great post that echoes so much truth!

  10. Savannah. Savannah, Savannah, SAVVANAH!!!! Girl, you are absolutely beautfiul. I am just like you. I am a little of a perfectionist. You’ve read my story — I’ve read your story. We are so alike. I totally get you with comparing. I remember always comparing myself with the other girls when I was younger. It makes me so sad now that I look back. I would just wish for their bodies without loving my own. The number on the sclae doesn’t even say very much. Muscle, for heaven’s sake, weighs more than fat. Those “extra” pounds could simply be muscle, which is a GOOD thing! :) I remember being so obessessed with everything I ate, what I put in my mouth, the numberI saw on the scale. I am so glad that I, just like you, am listening to my body instead of listening to the clock. Girl, this is such an amazing post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Such an important post! I’m so glad I read it – honestly, I think girls are taught to hate their bodies too and that is something I am so passionate about since I was definitely affected by it. Heck, I’m still affected by the way I treated my body when I was younger! Thanks for such agreat message!

  12. Blew my words away, amazing and eye opening post! I know from learning myself that children and teenagers have horrid visions and thoughts about their bodies, and yet it’s hard to overcome them.

  13. i love this post. i think that there are SO many girls out there struggling to reach skinny perfection when we are all different with different bodies! it is so hard to not compare or get jealous and so easy to focus too much on numbers and weight. it is something i struggle with daily, and it’s always nice to hear that others are struggling with the same thing. but the bottom line is, we’re all beautiful and talented and each of us are unique.

  14. Awesome post! Seriously, that was really good. I think it’s so sad that our society focuses so much on weight and pushes young girls to hate their bodies at a young age! Thank you for writing this :)

  15. SO well said…someone with a daughter recently said they had read in some parenting book not to tell your daughter too often that she is pretty because she will get conceited or think her value is tied up in her looks/size…I disagree, I tell my daughter ALL the time how beautiful she is because I want her to know I think she is beautiful every day, in so many ways, and I know that time will come that you described, like in all girls’ lives, when she suddenly compares herself to other girls and manages to find herself lacking in some way. Thanks for describing that moment and the thought processes that follow!

  16. SUCH a great post!!! It really is disheartening how early girls get caught up in body image and scale wegiht. I wish I could keep M from all of that…but I sadly know its impossible. Hopefully I can do my best in raising her to feel confident and value her body for what it can do.

  17. Great post! I used to feel similarly to you but now even if I eat unhealthily at a meal or for a day, I don’t beat myself up. I know for me that feeling that way, and placing so much emphasis on food is what gets you into a bad situation with regards to food.

  18. Excellent post girl! I loved reading this, it was so true :)

  19. What wonderful, heart-felt post! It is so true – girls, even very young girls – are already beginning down the path of self-loathing. It’s so sad because all women have so much to offer the world! Thank you for writing such a meaningful post!

  20. You are such a beautiful writer. Thanks for sharing this! I remember being that little girl (in ballet class) when I was only in grade 1 or 2 and comparing my thicker, more muscular legs to the other ‘thinner girls’. It still blows me away that I remember these details of my childhood while forgetting more important ones.
    Even to this day it’s easy to fall into the ‘i don’t measure up’ trap. As I get older I find it’s a bit easier to look at the big picture with everything, including the realization that life is filled with ups and downs and our health and exercise habits are no exception.

  21. THis is a good post, and I can relate so much. When I started focusing on eating healthy, I was criticized contantly and questioned. People kept asking if I was hungry, trying to get me to eat junk or cookies because they thought that I should eat those items.
    Your gorgeous girl!! You’re an amazing person, and a number DOES NOT define who you are.

  22. We talked on twitter about this through JK Rowling. I admit to not practicing what I preach. but I can’t tell people to do what I’ve done or what I struggle with, because I would never want to put someone through the mental strife and battle against myself. I remember one time my mom said something about thighs touching and it stuck, and all of a sudden I thought that if one day my thighs didn’t touch I would be pretty. Then I got there and it wasn’t enough, I wanted to be skinnier. My mom had no idea that she had planted that seed so many years ago, and it has made me so careful about what I say to young girls! I encourage them to believe in themselves and have confidence, because I was never told that. Great post dear <3

    • It is crazy how we think ! That JK Rowling article is exactly where this entire post came from. It made me start thinking about this. I like what you say about not practicing what you preach. I am hypocritical because I DON’T want people to worry like I do.

  23. I just discovered your blog, and I have to tell you, this was worded perfectly. I’ve read so many posts and articles on body issues, but this one really hit home for some reason. I remember being in fourth grade, sitting next to one of my friends, and comparing the size of my calf to hers. My calf! How ridiculous.

    I love that you’re honest about not always following your own advice. It’s so easy to tell someone else not to compare herself to others, not to be so down on herself, not to be so strict…but it’s another thing to take that advice. I don’t always take my own advice, either. It just goes to show how warped we’ve become when it comes to health and our bodies.

    Thanks for posting this. I really enjoyed reading it. We all have a lot more in common than we realize. It’s always comforting to be reassured that nobody is perfect! I’ll be following your blog from now on! I’m Jen. :)

  24. This is amazing! So well written. I completely agree with everything you said and it’s sad to know that so many young girls feel the exact same way. Numbers don’t define who you are!

  25. I think thats so true, i only miss i could feel like that about myself, its weird all i do is self loathe myself but the funny thing i cant remember a time when i didnt feel that way about myself.
    Iam anorexia and i have been in and out of hospital for 2years now and its fucked up (excuse my language) my life, i’ve missed out on so much.
    I would do anything to make sure girls and boys for that matter dont go down the same route i did but its really not worth it, people need to remember me included that the famous models and celebs dont look like that its all airbrushed and when young girls are that skinny its doesnt last very long but you sent to hospital and made to put it all put on again so its really not worth it, Kids need to be given more healthy and happy attitudes towards food maybe if parents gave them healthier food and less crap then kids wouldnt get so big or start getting paranoid about what there eating and too stop all the magazines from posting all these different diet ideas but it really does just give girls ideas and never did me any good.

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