May 27th, 2024

Let’s Chat: Respect and love who you are

By Linda Tooth on May 1, 2024.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of body shaming? I’m sure at some point in our lives people have made comments about how fat, skinny, tall, short, flat-chested, or well-developed we are.

A colleague recently asked me if I was interested in doing an column on body shaming. I said I was looking for a topic to write on, and she told me the clients she deals with have received comments based on their body shapes. I said I would love to write on it and it possibly will be more than one article.

When I started researching body shaming, the term Bo-Po came up. I am like, what the heck does that mean? It is the term for Body Positivity or Body Positive. According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, body shaming can be about “a specific body part, your skin colour, your hair, your body size and/or shape, your body language and mannerisms and how you choose to dress and present yourself.”

Oh my god, I have been body shamed my whole life and I did not know it. I remember a story from elementary school when a classmate called Heather asked her mom if it was OK if a black friend came over to play after school. She was referring to me.

I have olive skin and tan very easily. I also have dark (albeit with a few grey) curly hair and when you put that with olive skin suddenly people start to question your ancestry. The real clincher for all of this is that my paternal grandmother was born in South Africa and once people find out that part of my history, the comments keep coming.

When my nieces were younger I took them to the West Edmonton Mall for a girls’ weekend. We went shopping and I asked my oldest niece what size jeans she wore as we were looking for a new outfit for her.

She replied, “double 0.” Is that a real size, I thought. She has always been slender and people assume there is something wrong with her like anorexia or she is sick. Little did they know that she could out eat us at dinner if it included mashed potatoes. She is now in her 30s and people still question her weight and why she is slender.

Why can’t we accept that people are different and not every child or adult is going to be a Caucasian who is tall and thin?

I encourage everyone to embrace who they are and to hell with what people think.

Let us be body-positive or #bo-po.

Linda Tooth is a communications instructor at Medicine Hat College

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