body shaming

I’m 6 feet tall and weigh roughly 135 pounds. It’s no secret I’m a skinny guy. I’m slightly underweight according to some BMI scales. That’s OK. That’s not considered unhealthy. I’ve spent the majority of my life being reminded how skinny I am. That’s not OK.

“Put some meat on those bones.” “Your parents must be starving you.” “Are you eating enough?” I’m sick and tired of hearing those phrases.

I’ve tried to gain weight since I was in high school. I forced myself to eat 2,500 calories a day, stopped running and started lifting weights. Maybe I’m an awful nutritionist, but I only made it up to 140 pounds.

Companies have launched campaigns promoting women’s body confidence. That’s great. Young women need to know that they’re beautiful in all shapes, colors and sizes. Our young men need a similar reminder.

Even more so, young people need a reminder that body shaming isn’t acceptable, no matter what gender you are. I was taught throughout my childhood to never make a comment about another girl’s weight or appearance. It’s ingrained in my mind much like saying “please” and “thank you.” It’s nothing more than common decency. So when I hear things like, “You need to eat some more, James,” my blood boils.

Some of us have health conditions that make it incredibly difficult to gain or lose weight. Some of us have issues with food such as eating disorders. Some of us just weren’t taught how to eat healthy. Some of us weren’t taught how to take care of our bodies. Whatever the case, it isn’t your business. Don’t make it your business unless you’re asked — it isn’t that difficult of a concept to grasp.

I have ridiculous eating habits. I can be starving one minute, eat a few bites and feel full. An hour later I’ll be starving again, eat a few bites and feel full again. Repeat. That’s how I’ve been for the last few years. I don’t know why. That’s just how I am. Please, don’t make a comment about it.

Like I said before, I’m not asking anything more than basic human decency. Respect my body like you would want yours to be respected. I’m not asking you to do anything. I’m asking you to refrain from comments where they aren’t welcome.

Like boys are taught to never make a comment about a girl’s weight, everybody should be taught to never make a comment about anyone’s weight. It’s basic human decency.

James Smith is a 21-year-old mass communication senior from Grand Coteau, Louisiana.

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