When I was 13, I was told by a boy that I looked anorexic. Can you imagine being accused of having a serious eating disorder that affects too many young girls? I was angry and I could do nothing about it. Yes, my thumb and index finger could wrap around my ankles and wrists and I had a noticeable thigh gap, but I was NOT anorexic. I ate three meals a day and a lot of food in between, but not matter what I told him, he still insisted that I must have an eating disorder. The comment was one I didn't forget. At such a young and vulnerable age, I felt like I was too thin and my body was wrong and ugly. And I was stuck with it. No matter what I did to try and change it, nothing happened. Not even eating all of the junk food in the world would've changed it.
These types of comments continued later into my teen years. Only this time, from people close to me. When I was 15, I was told by a family member that I was "too skinny" and "needed to get some meat on my bones." They laughed, thinking it was a throwaway comment. But to me it wasn't. It brought back emotions that I had buried from two years ago and I, yet again, began feeling uncomfortable with my natural body shape. I never starved myself, I ate when I felt like it or when I was hungry, I just didn't put on any weight. And yet again, I had people who I looked up to telling me that what I was doing must be wrong because I was thin.
When I was 16, I decided eat more healthy food to get a more athletic figure. This included eating salads for lunch. I still remember the looks I got from people close to me as they said "Why are you eating that? You don't need to lose weight." Even after assuring them that I wasn't eating a salad to lose weight, I was doing it to be healthy; they still told me that I already have a healthy body with no clue of what I was actually doing with it.
At around this time, images were circulating social media that were essentially body shaming thin women. Images of models captioned 'This is not what a real woman looks like' or 'give the girl a burger' and another image of a curvy woman on a bed captioned 'men don't want to spoon a bag of bones'.
It was at that point I decided enough is enough.
I would no longer be shamed for having a naturally thin body.
I would no longer be made to feel inferior.
I would no longer think my body is unnatural and ugly.
And I would do this the only way I knew how, by celebrating my body and writing a book on my experience called 'Never Mind My Thigh Gap.'
Now, at 19 years old, I have never felt more comfortable in my own skin. In fact, I love my body and embrace my figure, no longer feeling that I have to hide behind baggy clothing. And I will not let anyone tell me what I need to do with my body.
But that doesn't mean that thin shaming has stopped. I still hear the same comments being made. It's frustrating, and what's even worse is that people don't realise the impact that they can have on a young person.
Our young people need to be taught that when it comes to body shapes, there is no normal. Everyone's body is different. Curves are beautiful, but so are no curves. We need to start accepting that no woman is the same rather than holding one particular body as the desirable one.
Us, as women, need to stop turning on each other and making other women feel inferior. We to stop making one side feel better by putting the other down, because body image isn't particular to one body size, it can affect everyone.
Growing up, I was always the thin friend. And it was harder than you think.
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