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I’m a 42-year-old who shops in the juniors’ section and I get body shamed

I love the fact that we are all becoming much more sensitive and aware of feelings and how what we say truly does leave a lasting impression on someone. Body shaming belongs in the dumpster with the rest of the garbage we throw out. That said, body shaming does not just happen to plus-size women. I am 5′ and weigh under 110 pounds, yet I am body shamed, constantly — mostly because of my career. I am a food and wine writer, as well as a television personality known for food and entertaining. People have told me for years, “Drink a milkshake. Eat a burger. I can’t trust you or take you seriously because of your size.”

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Do those comments influence the way I do my job? Somewhat. If I had a dollar for every time a viewer told me, “I could never trust a skinny/small cook,” I would be retired and sitting on my patio overlooking the ocean, sipping a glass of wine.

I wish I could honestly say that I do not care what people say or think about me. I am getting better, but my skin is not quite that thick yet. The personal insults still hurt, but I want to learn not to care, and I want to teach my daughter not to care either.

When I was pregnant, I read an article about a mom who never put down her looks in her daughter’s presence after hearing her daughter say, “My nose is too big,” because she heard those very words from her mother. I was so moved by that article and made a vow not to ever put down my looks or body in front of my daughter.

Do I think I have a perfect body? Ha. That’s laughable. When I look at my naked self in the mirror, I see only flaws. I see the stretch marks on my breasts from when I was pregnant and a 44DD. (Talk about an odd-looking person; my breasts were ginormous when I was pregnant, and they only kept growing! I stopped buying bras at 44DD because I was too embarrassed to ask how high the letters went). I see my C-section scar. I look at my thighs and think they’re too big. I’m amazed at the fine lines and wrinkles around my mouth and eyes that seemed to have just appeared overnight. I see that dark spot on the side of my face that did not lighten when I bought that expensive cream from the dermatologist.

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Then I try to look at myself from the inside out, the way I have always taught my daughter. True beauty radiates from within. When I do that, I see strength. I see those stretch marks, yes, but a good bra holds those girls in place and pushes them up. I am proud of that C-section scar because it safely removed my breeched baby, and I am so fortunate to be called her mom. My thighs might look big, but I do yoga and enjoy my elliptical cardio workouts, so my legs are strong. As for the fine lines and wrinkles, I have laughed a lot, and Mark Twain was right: “Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.”

Body shaming happens to all of us, whether we are a size 2 or a size 22. I want my daughter to know that her dress size or the number on a scale does not determine her beauty.

Sure, it is embarrassing to shop for a “sexy outfit” in the juniors’ department. But if I want clothes to fit, I can’t shop in the women’s section. I’m a chesty, petite girl. I can’t help it; that’s just me. So I am presented with the dilemma of being “too old to wear that,” as well as “too short to shop over there.”

So you can choose not to “trust me as a small cook,” but I can tell you this: My food is good, and if you don’t try my recipes simply because I’m not a plus-sized cook, then you’re missing out. And until I get a clothing sponsor, you’ll find me in the juniors’ department. Even then, I might still be there. If you see me shopping for clothes when you bring your teenager there, say something nice, please, OK? The clothes are cheaper in that department, anyway.

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