I’ve been a thin Uzbek girl as long as I can remember, slim enough that, even at an early age, it was quite possible to study the human skeleton on my body. At the age of 10, my weight was 23 kg. I was not sick with anorexia, bulimia or other diseases; I was just a healthy kid who looked a little different. Society, however, didn’t want to accept it.
Since childhood, everyone has pointed out how thin I am and that I ought to “fix” myself. Almost everyone blamed my parents for not feeding me or treating my “illness”. They instilled the idea that if I didn’t gain weight and become “normal” like everyone else, I wouldn’t be happy. “Skinny girls can’t develop a career or have a family and children because nobody likes them”, they said.
At first glance, it may seem like the world is in love with skinny girls. They are everywhere: billboards, magazines, television, and social media. Models, actresses, and singers go under the knife to achieve thinness because they believe that the world is crazy about it. However, I’ve found the opposite to be true, and I am not the only one familiar with this experience. A large number of naturally thin people suffer from bullying in society from early childhood, according to the scientific work from Bullying Victimization Among Underweight and Overweight U.S Youth by Wank, Lannoti and Luk. This does not only happen in the USA. My family and I were bullied because of my weight in Uzbekistan, and it continued when we moved to Prague, showing that it also occurs at least in Central Europe and Central Asia.
I come from a slim family; my dad and his siblings were all notably thin until about 21, at which point they began to put on more weight and approach what was generally deemed “acceptable”. The same process happened to my cousins and siblings as well. There are many families with genetic predispositions for low weight like mine. For some, it is easy to gain weight; for others, adding just one kilogram can take ages. It seems, however, that very few people realize that speaking out about low weight can be as painful as it is for heavy weight.
Weight should not be a reason for tyranny and bullying, especially when it comes to children. If an adult can’t always get rid of negative thoughts, then a child clearly can’t. A child absorbs everything, making it easy to traumatize his psyche with concepts he’ll likely struggle to cope with for many years.
I dealt with these issues until I was 17. Learning to accept and love my body took a long time because my head spun with phrases that those “kind” people told me as a kid. I was bullied even when I gained 18 kg in my teens, for I was still skinny compared to my classmates. That only made things worse and worse. Sometimes, it even seemed to me that these people were right and that society would never accept me as I was. I couldn’t look at pictures of myself or my reflection in the mirror. It was so difficult to accept myself and overcome these stereotypes, but I did.
To everyone’s surprise, I overcame these fears and stereotypes, and I began to make changes in my way of thinking. My family and friends have always supported me, but it was not enough; I needed to love and accept myself. Until I changed my opinion of myself and overcame my fears, nothing would change. I started to accept my body. If anyone thought otherwise, it was their problem, not mine. It was hard to do because it required a lot of time and patience. It is impossible to change yourself quickly. In addition to working on my thinking, I just started to do what I really like.
At the age of 17, I started to study journalism at AAU. I devoted myself to studies, and my worldview was deeply changed. I began to pay attention to what is really important and requires attention, and just let the situation go.
Now, I am absolutely happy with my body. I have a prestigious job that I’m very proud of. I study journalism and publish articles. I have happy and healthy relationships. My employer does not care about my weight because I do my job quickly and efficiently. My boyfriend likes me the way I am because I am satisfied with my 48 kilograms. If someone still speaks negatively about my weight and tells me to gain weight (which still happens a lot), I don’t pay attention.
Each person decides for himself what he is capable and worthy of. However, the dependence on beauty standards and weight “norms” give children a negative and rather toxic self-image from an early age. Society assures children that if they do not meet these standards, they will be outcasts. Not everyone in adulthood can get rid of them. We need to stop imposing any beauty standards on children.It doesn’t matter how much the child weighs. It is more important to teach them how to love themselves and their body. I began to treat myself with love only after 17, and, in fact, things would have been a thousand times better if I had done so from childhood. Only love and compassion can ensure a happy life.