You can do this Laura. Relax and breath.
That’s what I had to tell myself as I wrote this post. Where does one start when the opening images is a portrait on themselves with the word ugly and slut wrote across their face?
You may look at these images and wonder what on earth have I done. Truth be told, I had that thought too when I sat down to do a self portrait. But for me they hold a very powerful meaning. They represent how words make me, and thousands of other women feel. Labels, names, they stick.
Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will… oh wait… words will hurt me. Call me ugly, stupid, fat, a slut, over and over again and eventually I will crack.
I might not show physical pain like when you throw a stone at my face, but I break under the sheer emotional weight in my head.
Recently I’ve heard and read some truly horrible things. This isn’t just about me, but others too. When did we all become so bitchy? “Oh look at so and so, looks like she gained a few pounds” “Did you see those photos so and so put on Instagram? Her photos are so crap” “What has so and so done to her hair? It looks so bad now” Sometimes the comments are direct and trolls strike and sometimes it’s behind peoples backs on Twitter and forums.
Lately though, I have felt weighed down with how people and myself label me. I’ve been called ugly; I’ve been called stupid. I even had some delightful troll tell me I should go kill myself on my Instagram last year. More often than not though it’s the throwaway comments that stick.
Things like your stupid. An idiot. Dumb. Useless. Often said in the heat of the moment. Yet if enough people say it, over time you start to believe it. I feel like I'm wearing these labels and I can't shake them off.
Now I’m not saying I’m an angel. I’ll admit I’ve said things about people in the past. Sat over coffee with your girlfriends, it's all too easy to just start to gossip. But recently, when I found myself for 4 days straight coming home and crying in a ball every night because I thought I was a useless waste of space, I realised we need to start being nicer to one another.
Tearing others down won’t build you up.
Whilst this applies to both in the real world and the online world, I feel social media needs a special shout out. It’s so easy to hide behind an anonymous account and become keyboard warriors. It’s so easy to say things when they aren’t to someone’s face. But you have absolutely no idea what is going on in that person’s life. Not really. Only they do. In the past when someone online wrote I was too fat to wear the skirt I was, do you really think that’s appropriate to say to a former anorexic? No, if you knew you probably wouldn’t say it. But that’s the truth, you never really know what people have been through.
So this is my statement. It’s bold. But it’s how all of us feel when we hear or read shitty comments about us.
We end up wearing those labels. They may not be visible to others, but to us it’s as if they are written right on our bodies.
Today I want each of us to take a moment before we say something about someone else. Just pause before you speak and think, would I want this said about me? Then I want each of us to tell one person something nice about them. No not the already popular women (although of course everyone deserves to have kindness on them of course), I want each of us to tell someone who we’d usually not even bother with, something nice. Can be anything. Tell Sarah at work that you really appreciate her helping this week. Tell cashier in Tesco that you like her hair. Tell that person something nice, because you never know what they are feeling. They may have had the worse week and feel so down about themselves, that by showing them a simple 30 second moment of kindness, might lift one of those labels off they’ve been carrying around.