Learning to love your body is incredibly hard, especially when there are so many external forces (like magazines, TV, and films) telling us we aren’t good enough. For women especially, our bodies are often under scrutiny (remember when Jennifer Lawrence was called fat?). This alone makes teaching our kids and teens to love their bodies especially tough, since many women (and men) suffer from body dysmorphia and other eating disorders.
Unfortunately, mom Megan Naramore Harris had to deal with this when her teen daughter, Lexi, was shamed while looking for a dress for an upcoming dance. Harris went to Facebook to air her outrage over the insensitive and horrifying incident at a Wichita Dillard. So, what happened?
When Lexi tried on a red dress, her mom took a picture–the moment, however, was ruined when a saleswoman walked up and said there was no way Lexi could wear the dress without putting on Spanx. Yes, as if a teenager needs to wear Spanx. (And, of course, my personal opinion is that no one needs to, but obviously it’s cool if you want to).
Harris was understandably horrified by the comment, and immediately told her daughter to change, so they could leave. She then told the saleswoman that Lexi looked just fine, but the woman continued to argue, as if someone crowned her the queen of What Women’s Bodies Should Look Like. Harris walked away from the situation with mixed emotions, and wants her post to be shared so other girls don’t suffer from low self-esteem:
“I wish I had told you how many girls suffer from poor self image and telling them they need something to make them perfect can be very damaging. Girls of all ages, shapes and sizes are perfect because that is how God made them. If they feel good in a dress, that is all that should matter. My daughter is tall, she swims, runs, dances and does yoga. She’s fit. She’s beautiful. She did not need you telling her that she is not perfect.”
Negatively commenting on someone’s appearance (especially when it’s not solicited) is completely unjustifiable, since you don’t know the person’s history. Many people suffer, or have struggled, with eating disorders, and these types of comments are triggering and harmful. About 2% of the population in the U.S. suffers from body dysmorphia, while about 20 million women and 10 million men in the U.S. suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life.
Yes, none of us have perfect bodies, but that doesn’t mean we’re not all beautiful. Whatever imperfections we may have are also not really imperfections–it’s just how our bodies are, and all bodies are unique. But it’s time we educated both adults and children on how important positive body image is, and how to actually foster it. I appreciate Harris’ post, because it’s a two-part reminder we all need: 1.) We’re all beautiful, and 2.) Stop passing judgement on others.