“Do you shave your legs?” he asked. “No.” she replied. “Then you need to because you’re looking like a hairy monkey!” he responded.
That one comment started her journey into negative body imaging and low self-esteem for the next 5 years. She was only 10 when that comment was made. Little did she know that these words would change her perception of how she saw herself in a dramatic way.
Words like this have a lot of power in a young girl’s life. It wouldn’t matter if the male figure was 12, 15 or 20. A young girl bases her whole body on how the opposite sex views her if she doesn’t have enough self-esteem and self-respect for herself.
One moment. One comment. That’s all it took.
Now the mother of that young boy had a good talking to with her son about what he said. She privately took him aside and began to share with him how the words he chose, can change a young girl’s life. She continued to share with him how she had her own battle with bulimia for a lot of years because of words like these. I was thankful for that mom in informing her son about this topic. But for many young boys and young men, they don’t have someone to lovingly correct them.
One person’s words can damage our view of how we see ourselves. And that new perspective can change us forever. Some of the after-effects from those words are anorexia, bulimia, sexting, porn, self-mutilation, low-esteem, identity issues, anxiety and stress. Those are just a few. And what many don’t know is that words don’t just affect young girls but young boys too.
So what do we do to prevent this from happening? Take the time to sit down and teach them that each one of them was created in a beautiful and wonderful way. Help them to understand that young girls and boys need to be respected and looked upon with great individuality and value. Explain to them how words can hurt and how it can affect others around them. Ask them if they would want someone to say something hurtful to one of their family members. If you don’t teach your sons and daughters now, how will they ever learn about respect and honoring their future wives and husbands?
If this has happened to your young daughter or son already, talk to them about it. Don’t let a day go by without seeking out the truth and helping your child to overcome painful and hurtful comments. It would be especially helpful if mentors in your pre-teen and teen’s life gave encouraging and uplifting words of esteem. We never know how supportive our words are until we speak them. By restoring a young teen’s life and esteem, you may very well keep them from going down the path of destruction.
The above image is from my daughter who wanted to let others know that words hurt and the words you read are the words she felt.