How it Feels to be Body Shamed

A Cheerleader’s Story


Kirsten Weisbrod

Kirsten Weisbrod defies everyone who has put her down by doing what they said she couldn’t

Kirsten Weisbrod, Contributor

Growing up, children are rarely introduced to what goes on outside of their own little world. I never really knew there was such a thing as body shaming, I felt that everyone was accepted for whatever shape or size they are. Once I was around the age of 12 is when I started to become aware of the term body shaming, after all, it was being done to me. When I look back to my younger years and the photos of me I don’t feel as if I was a hefty kid, yet I was always being told to “Watch my plate” or “Maybe the sport you want to do might not want you because of your weight.” Hearing these things hurt, especially coming from family members who I look up to.

I remember the day I told my Nana I wanted to try out for my High School’s Varsity Cheer Team and she said something like, “Maybe you should look for another sport and not focus so much on cheer because cheerleading is more for smaller skinny girls,” which was surprising to hear her say.  Or there was even a time when we went on vacation and we were out at a restaurant and my siblings and I all got the same meal and without any hesitation my Nana comes up to me and says, “You’re really going to eat all of that, do you really need that much food?” as if I was going to finish the whole meal. Those words are ​stuck in my head like glue ​to this day, and those words pushed me to do my best and prove to my Nana that I could make the team – even if I’m not skinny.

The sad thing is she wasn’t the only family member that ever made comments. A lot of the time parents are the main role models to children and since we look up to our parents we tend to act like them. My mom’s ex-husband, who happens to be the father of my three younger siblings, had a tendency of making fun of me for my weight. Whether it was intentional or no,t it still hurt me. How am I supposed to see myself the way I believe I am when everybody else doesn’t? He would make jokes about my weight in front of the younger kids which led them to think it was okay to make fun of me, and from then on any time they were mad at me all they could do was call me “Fat”. I was nothing but “So lazy and obese” to my family. I was so sick of being put down by my own family members, it made me sad to see how the people who are supposed to love you and be by your side can be so mean and tactless. ​

It was like a rainy day every day​, but I always reminded myself with rain comes rainbows. ​The day my mom and her ex-husband divorced was my rainbow​. Being only 12 years old and believing I am nothing but the “Fat Girl” was rough and it took me years to forgive my family for the things they said and the way they made me feel, but I forgave them because deep down I know they never meant to hurt me. My family just wants the best for me and I understand that now, but that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t have said what they wanted to say in different ways that would have led me to understand that they were just looking out for my best interest. I never struggled with any suicidal thoughts or depression, but to this day I still can’t look in the mirror and feel comfortable with what I see, I can not be body positive for myself.

I wrote about this part of my life because I know I am not the only person in this world that goes through this, and I feel that writing about my experience helps me to bury the past and begin my journey on ​the road to recovery. ​I did end up making my school’s varsity cheer team because I never gave up, even in the rough nights of doubt. Nobody should have to be made fun of because of their weight for any reason because everyone is who they were born to be and yes, people could change how they appear but they shouldn’t have to. Insecurities do exist and lines can be crossed. My mom always told me to laugh at myself because then it is harder for others to laugh at me and so I do, I laugh at myself and still do to this day because that has helped me to brighten up my situation. Body shaming is a thing and it isn’t something to joke around about because you never know the situation in which he or she could be in.