I Don’t Want to Hear It

This had been on my mind for a few years now, but more prominently in the last few months. I feel like this post is a long time coming.

I’ve never really identified at an “ugly ducking”. I’m not saying that I was a beautiful child, but I definitely was complemented sporadically about random features, mostly my eyes. I have specific memories of photographers at my uncle’s wedding asking if they could take pictures of me. I remember getting at least a little attention from boys my age. I don’t even look at pictures of younger me today and think that I was ugly. I just look like a younger, more awkward version of myself.

However, I got my first “ugly duckling” backhanded compliment recently.

I was home for a dinner party at my house when a family friend’s friend came up to me and said something along the lines of “you are so beautiful now, you were so gawky when you were younger. You were a little ugly duckling”. I didn’t know how to respond.

I’m a person who heavily identifies with the idea that we are always the same person. Despite my regrets, awkward stages, or anything of that nature, I have been that person. I’m not one to look back and laugh at myself because the girl that I once was is still inside of me. I may be overly sensitive, but my emotions are so, so real to me. When she called me an ugly duckling, a part of my childhood took a heavy blow.

However, this wasn’t the only part of the dinner party that really hurt me.

Growing up, I can remember of few moments that heavily contributed to my poor body image. One of them was the mom of one of my dearest friends. When I was in 6th grade, she told me I needed to buy bigger shirt sizes if I wasn’t going to lose the weight that I had gained. I was 11 years old. I still love this woman from the bottom of my heart, but my whole life I’ve heard compliments and insult simultaneously about my appearance. Whether it be comments about my shorts being whore-ish because they’re so short or jabs saying I wear too much makeup for an 8th grader, I always felt on edge with her. Not to mention her daughter telling me that the people from her town probably think I’m a slut for wearing a bikini. Comments like these are the ones that stuck with me.

The part of the dinner party that hurt me was when the woman commented on her daughter’s outfit (medium rise short shorts along with an extremely cropped top, showing a considerate amount of midriff), saying that with a body that great, it would be a crime to cover it up. After a childhood of only hearing how I should cover up, hearing that from her felt like a knife to the stomach.

Since then, I’ve realized something about myself.

I don’t like to hear about my body, except for when learning how it works. I don’t like hearing that I’ve lost, gained, or maintained my weight. I don’t like being weighed. I don’t like hearing that I look amazing. I don’t like compliments on my body. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to talk about it. It took me so long to get to a place where I feel comfortable talking about working out with my boyfriend and I still won’t do so many different workout moves in front of him.

My children will never be shamed for their bodies, only celebrated. They will be encouraged to eat healthy and cleanly, to stay active, and be strong, but I will never be the mom who says that they can’t have In-N-Out. I never want them to feel like I’ve felt growing up. I never want them to be ashamed. And I hope they are never told they are an ugly ducking. Who says that to a person?

Lizzie Bromley