From self-described “boy body” to All About That Bass and back again, RJ Miles recounts to QN Magazine her experience with body shaming.
A person’s self-image is low-hanging fruit, ripe for plucking and an easy target for those who feed their own insecurity by putting down others.
Most of my adult life I’ve had the body of a twelve-year-old boy. I run marathons. It’s good for my physical and mental health and something I love doing.
However, my lean body invited criticism. “You should eat more. Running is making you weak.”
Weak? Only when potato chips came into view.
I can resist anything, but spuds combined with the twin temptations of saturated fat and salt.
When I started IVF, I took steroids to aid with implantation. These tablets created cravings and inspired trips through the drive-thru after work each day.
Working in a small community means your public activity is monitored and the whole postcode knows where you’ve been, who you’ve seen and what you’ve eaten by the time you next walk through the school gates.
“Hey Miss, saw you at the KFC. Did you get fries with that?”
Well, you know what? I had cravings. So, yes, I did get fries with that. I got pregnant. You know what else I got? Breasts!
During the lead up to my pregnancy, I eagerly anticipated the bouncing boobs I expected that condition to gift me. Well, that novelty very quickly wore off the first time I tried to do Park Run with an underwire bra.
I also got fat. Well, actually, not in my opinion… My pregnancy bump was tiny. Someone else thought I got fat.
“You’ve gained 20kg. You are overweight. You should watch what you eat,” a midwife told me at my 36-week appointment.
Daaaaaaaamn. I knew my weight was fine. You can’t use BMI when there’s a baby on board.
I know a bit about pregnancy. Having a baby was not just something that happened. I didn’t come home from work one day and say to my wife, “Hi honey, I’m home, and guess what? I’m pregnant.”
This was one of the biggest decisions we will ever make in our lives and my wife and I planned and researched it like a moon landing.
How would a vulnerable pregnant woman with real body image issues react when told she was fat?
Convincing a Mum-to-be she’s fat can have significant consequences for the child in utero when the woman starts cutting her calories.
Sure, there are risks from genuine weight problems. However, it’s ridiculous to stress out a highly-active 173cm tall woman undergoing steroid intervention when she gains 20 kilograms during pregnancy.
My GP, my massage therapist (who is also a qualified nutritionist), and previous midwives had no problem with my weight.
The moment I left the hospital, the weight dropped off rapidly, inviting renewed criticism of my leanness.
“Are you sure you should be breastfeeding? You look unwell.”
If I was unwell, my milk supply would have dried up.
Au contraire. My son is a beast — he’s wearing size 0 at the ripe old age of 7 weeks.
They say pregnancy helps you embrace your body. You learn its capabilities first-hand. That is true. But you know what else you learn to embrace? The fact that you just can’t win.
We should all be more considerate with our words. If we can’t fight society’s expectation, at least learn to support each other.
And yeah! I will have fries with that.
To read more from RJ Miles about her experiences as a same-sex parent, click here.