A viral and heartbreaking hashtag proves body-shaming starts early for women.

If it seems like body-shaming is a new phenomenon, it’s really not.

We hear about it more and more these days in response to mind-numbingly ignorant marketing campaigns, laughably absurd celebrity criticism, and everyday people singled out by mean-spirited strangers.

The extra awareness is a good thing, but the truth is that this kind of weight- and beauty-based bullying has been happening to (mostly) women for as long as anyone cares to remember.

Twitter user Sally Bergesen recently called on women to share their own memories using the hashtag #TheySaid.

She recalled her dad warning her not to eat too much when she was only 12 years old. 12!

Though the comment was likely meant as a playful tease, it left a deep mark on Bergesen. And she’s not alone.

An avalanche of responses followed, proving that our body-shaming problem is deep, rampant, and extremely damaging.

Fat or thin, young or old, it seems almost every woman who’s ever lived has had to deal with other people’s verbal opinions about her body.

As stories poured in, it became clear girls are being told from a frighteningly young age that their bodies aren’t good enough.

Women shared horrible things their parents, friends, and siblings said to them when they were 8 years old, or even 5.

5-year-olds can barely make themselves a sandwich, but we expect them to reel in their calories in order to keep a flat tummy.

The stories also served as a powerful reminder that body-shaming can take a lot of different forms.

It’s not always meant to hurt feelings. In fact, it’s often disguised as concern or helpful advice. But its impact is almost always the same.

The stories women shared were enraging and heartbreaking.

As hard as the comments are to read, it’s incredibly important we do so.

It sometimes feels like we’ve come a long way as a society in terms of accepting people of various body types as they are — and in a lot of ways, we have.

But you can’t read through the thousands of responses to #TheySaid without realizing this remains a huge problem, particularly for women and girls. To move forward as a culture, we need to be brutally honest about how badly we’ve let many of our girls down, face the problem head on, and make a change.





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