Comments on men and women's bodies—even well-meaning ones—tend to be so deeply engrained in the conversations in our society, that sometimes they're hardly even noticeable anymore. However, even the most well-intentioned statements can linger in a person's memory years after they are uttered, and Sally Bergesen, founder and CEO of athletic-wear brand Oiselle, is bringing attention to the topic of body-shaming.
Bergesen took to Twitter last week to encourage others to use the hashtag #TheySaid to share stories about times they have been body-shamed.
She started the thread with her own experience at 12-years-old when her dad commented, "Keep eating like that and you're going to be a butterball." It didn't take long after that original tweet to get an emotional and enlightening conversation started.
"Keep eating like that and you're going to be a butterball." My Dad when I was 12. Pls RT and share a body shaming comment. #TheySaid— Sally Bergesen (@oiselle_sally) May 25, 2017
#TheySaid "You should wear a girdle." I was 6 yrs old. Had to ask what a "girdle" was. Then, I understood.💔— Pam Zich 💜 (@RebelSpeducator) May 29, 2017
"You're going to have to lose weight if you want to do fun things at school and be happy." - Mom, summer before I began jr. high. #TheySaid— Tara (@runningreading1) May 25, 2017
"You'd be a knock-out if you lost 15 pounds". Spoken to me by my "boyfriend" who was about 30 pounds overweight.— Cory Benson (@coryrbenson) May 25, 2017
"You don't look like a runner" my colleague said disapprovingly, a few days after I ran my second ultra. https://t.co/MJSkxioID2— Liza (@run_boston) May 25, 2017
The thread touched a lot of people and brought a lot of realization to how much we focus on appearance.
Check out #TheySaid to realize 1)you're not alone; 2)body-shaming comments last forever; 3)why unhealthy food relationships are developed. 💔— Sarah Overpeck (@smoverpeck) May 25, 2017
#TheySaid is simultaneously one of the saddest and most affirming conversations I've seen.— 5k to Ultramarathon (@5k2ultra) May 25, 2017
#TheySaid is the best worst thing today. We need to change the convo abt women + their bodies; also brings back SO many painful memories— Ally Feldman (@Pofeldy) May 25, 2017
And while we love that Sally is initiating such an important conversation, it's significant to note that her company Oiselle's largest size is a 12, and one user confronted her on this contradicting issue.
Honest question:how can you start an anti body shaming thread when you don't go over size 12? Are my size 16 thighs not worthy?— jess (@foxyrides131) May 25, 2017
Sally heard her out, and proceeded to engage in a thoughtful conversation with the concerned user.
I believe all people are worthy. I'd love to hear more about what you like to wear/what works for you.— Sally Bergesen (@oiselle_sally) May 25, 2017
Good to know. Yes. We are extending key styles in 2018, working with the right wear testers along the way. Recognize we have more to do.— Sally Bergesen (@oiselle_sally) May 25, 2017
Because of its deep roots and many contributing factors, body-shaming will probably never be completely eliminated. However, with people like Sally continuing to push these conversations and bring attention to such truly life-changing topics, we can make strides in beginning to rid it from our individual interactions and communities.
Don't be afraid to respectfully call someone out the next time they take it upon themselves to comment on yours or a friend's body. Awareness, like Sally's thread, can bring huge changes!