words contain an abundance of power.
if we allow them to, words can lift us up, tear us down, or break us apart. words can inspire, enlighten, anger, and strike us speechless. ever heard the phrase ‘think before you speak’?
…ever really thought about the statement?
if you’re human i’m betting you’ve experienced a moment in which you regretted the words you let out into the world. i’m betting you’ve felt embarrassed or ashamed or upset with yourself for saying something (i know i have!). i’m also betting you’ve felt the sting of someone else’s words, whether or not they’re meant to harm.
one of the most interesting aspects of being a girl and a woman (particularly in the united states) is all the fat talk we engage in. now, i know not every woman and girl participates in such conversations but the vast majority of us ladies do. we pinch, poke, sigh and call ourselves fat. we talk about how much we loathe our thighs, or our stomachs or our hair. we openly envy women and girls we deem more attractive than ourselves.
there’s a reason i choose to keep all those comments inside: they don’t just hurt you, but they hurt other people.
i have a beautiful friend. literally gorgeous. she’s tall, thin, curvy, and flat stomached. she’s got long, shiny, black hair and a really pretty face. she looks like the type of hippie i only wish i looked like. to say i am envious might be the biggest understatement of the year. the funniest (and saddest) part?
she think she’s fat. she pinches, prods, and pokes. she sighs and bemoans her (lovely) stomach. for the most part, she keeps her self-loathing comments tucked inside. however, sometimes they spill out. recently, one caught my attention — in a wholly negative way.
we were watching bad tv, as we’re prone to do, and on the screen stood a tall, lithe, blonde, the kind you see in magazines and movies. we both sat there, observing quietly, until my friend goes: “i would kill to look like her.” incredibly strong words if you ask me. i told her so. and then i told her she was beautiful.
regardless, i both understood and did not understand. my friend clearly does not recognize her own beauty. was the woman on the screen conventionally beautiful? yes. did she possess her own individual beauty? yes. everyone does. but was she gorgeous like my friend? no. not in the slightest.
so i sat there, turning her words over and over in my mind. i don’t look anything like my friend. i don’t look anything like the woman on the screen. which made me think: “god, she (my friend) would kill herself if she looked like me.”
her words really hurt me. did i need to take them personally? no. we never need to take any words in any particular way. but we are human, so sometimes it happens. and it did that day. i felt hideous for the remainder of the night. i felt kind of embarrassed about my body too, especially sitting there next to my thin, pretty friend. it made me wonder what she thought about my body. it made me wonder if she secretly thought “well, at least i’m not zoe.” i’m still wondering.
i realize i am more sensitive than others to comments about the body (oh hey, thanks ED!). i realize she never intended to hurt me. i realize she probably doesn’t even know her words affected me as much as they did. but none of that is the point. the point is this: words are powerful. i urge you to think about your words. i urge you to recognize a “fat-talk” thought the next time it bubbles up and consider it before releasing it. really consider it. because once words escape, they’ll never come back. and you never know if someone is secretly admiring your beauty. and you never know who might be listening. and, most importantly, you never know how those words will impact another person.
there’s a lot to learn from something as simple as “think before you speak”.
have you ever been unintentionally hurt by someone’s words?