People don't know how much their words can scar us. A lot of us remember things that were said to us when we were toddlers, teens, or in our most intimate moments — things that have shaped us forever. These brave women open up about the first time someone called them fat, and how it affected their body image and overall self-esteem.
1. My dad called me chubby when I was four.
"When I was about four, I remember crawling into my parent's bed on a cold weekend morning. I was in my princess nightgown which was a little short, and I remember my dad pinching my chubby knees, smiling, and saying 'You're so pudgy! How cute! Just don't be that way when you grow up, OK?' I recall thinking that I needed to eat healthier foods so my legs would stop touching. How messed up is that?" —Bryanna, 31
2. My mom said girls like me don't wear tight clothes.
"When I was eight, I was in the mall with my mom and grandma. I saw a mannequin wearing this cute little denim dress that I loved. I asked my mom if I could try it on, she said, 'Oh, that's not for girls like you.'" —Sally, 35
3. A drunk dude said my ass was fat.
"I was maybe 22. I was already old enough to drink but was like very new to bars. I was at a bar in the east village with a friend, and when we were leaving, some drunk guy screamed from down the street, 'Hey, Blondie! You have a fat ass!' I started the South Beach Diet the next day. That was the year I went from a size 12 to a size 0. Sadly, 10 years later, I've gained it all back." —Alexa, 33
4. My hookup wanted to make sure I was eating healthy.
"This on-and-off-again hookup of mine and I had sex after we had a blowup where we didn't speak for months. We were naked, and he said, 'Are you taking care of yourself? Eating right?' And I was like, 'Uh, yeah ... why?' And he says, 'No reason, I just want to make sure you're OK." Which, of course, is code for you got so fat." —Lexi, 30
5. Mean girls embarrassed me in the locker room.
"I was in sixth grade in PE class when two of the pretty, popular girls asked me if I wanted to go to the gym with them on Friday after school. I was so excited that popular girls wanted to hang out with me, so I asked my mom when I got home and she said yes. The next time I had PE, I told the girls in the locker room I could go to the gym with them that Friday and they burst out laughing. They said something to the effect of, 'We wouldn't go to the gym with you because you're FAT!' Horrifying. I'm sure I cried in the locker room after that, but I've tried to mostly block that event out of my mind for obvious reasons." —Olivia, 28
6. Someone insulted me via a classroom desk.
"I was 16 at the time and had recently gained a few pounds after taking a job a bagel store. Someone wrote on a desk in one of my classrooms, asking everyone who sat there during day, to write their name. I did. Shortly after, I discovered that someone wrote 'is fat' next to my name. I was embarrassed and hurt, wondering how many people saw that throughout the day. I quickly erased it, fighting back tears. I told a close friend and ended up sobbing. I know kids can be cruel and that I wasn't actually 'fat', but as a self-conscious teen who already struggled with body image, I was crushed." —Krista, 30
7. My boyfriend's friend called me an offensive name.
"I was dating a skinny guy when I was 15 and one of his football friends said I was 'built like a Brick House that you don't want to walk through.' I didn't understand that analogy at 15, so I asked my mom. She told me that men like that didn't deserve my brick house or my time. When my boyfriend figured out what 'Brick House' meant, he tried to fight him. All in true high school fashion!" —Lindsay, 27
8. A group of my classmates mooed at me.
"It was about two weeks into my freshman year of high school, and I was standing at the bus stop wearing what I thought was a cute copycat look from Clueless, when I heard mooing sounds. A group of boys were mooing at me, calling me a fat cow. Later that day, the same boys were in one of my classes and started up with the whole mooing crap again — only this time, the whole class joined in. After school I went home and threw the outfit away, and wore jeans for the majority of the year. Over 20 years later, I'm still fat, only now I embrace it; it's part of who I am." —Misti, 30
9. The neighborhood kids called attention to my body.
"I was about eight or nine and I was outside playing with my friends in the neighborhood. I was wearing a bikini and riding my bike down the street when I heard some slightly older kids making fun of me. I don't think I had any concept of what fat was before that, but I can recall exactly how uncomfortable and self-conscious I became in that moment, and how it still impacts me almost 30 years later. If that's not a real-life example of what words can do to people, I don't know what is." —Kristi, 37
10. A modeling agency told me I was too fat to model.
"I was 17 and was told I was fat by my modeling agent — a month after I was diagnosed with anorexia. I told her I wouldn't diet because of my health, and she told me, 'Fine, don't diet then. But stop exercising so you'll lose more muscle.'" —Katya, 32