Aug 28, 2014

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The Impact and Power of the Words We Use

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The Words We Use Have A Lasting Impact

Growing up, I was heavyset kid. By the time I was 11, I was shopping in the Junior section because, well, even the largest kids’ sizes didn’t fit me. However, my weight never bothered me. I was a popular kid in school, loved by my teachers and friends. Being a big girl wasn’t the focal point of my childhood that it later became the first moment someone pointed my weight out.
Its funny, but I don’t have many vivid memories of my childhood; that’s probably because I have a terrible memory. But there are moments that I remember with every detail, and most of those moments were ones where someone used the powerful words, “you’re fat.” Even typing them gives me this disgusted, goose bumpy feeling, because those two words changed my life forever. I’ll never forget where I was, what was going on, who said it, who was around, how it made me feel, and the impact it had on how I viewed myself everyday after.

The Words We Use Possess Power

Our words are one of the most powerful tools we have. They have the ability to make us feel superior and inferior, all at the same time. Someone can tell me that I’m beautiful one day, and the next day someone could say something as simple as, “you look a little thicker today” and it will, without a doubt, make me feel fat.
Words are hard to forget—both the good and the bad. I’d like to think that as the years have progressed, I have canceled out the bad ones and replaced them with the good. For every fat joke I’ve experienced, there have been compliments and praises to substitute those and make me truly feel beautiful inside and out. I’ve overcome my low self esteem through the use of more positive words rather than negative, and more complimenting and less criticizing. I don’t use “fat” or “skinny” in my vocabulary. Instead, I use “healthy” and “fit.”  Instead of looking at myself in the mirror and saying “I hate my hair” I say “I love my freckles”. If someone makes a comment about me gaining weight, I respond with a joke, something to ease the sting it gives me. “Words only hurt when you allow yourself to believe them”, so I always challenge everyone to change their perspective and change their language. Focus on using your words to say something beautiful and never allow yourself to be your own worst enemy—be your biggest fan!
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Cindy Cabral

Cindy Cabral

My name is Cindy Cabral, a Latina born and raised in New York City. I graduated from St. Johns University with a Bachelors in Hospitality Management and a Masters in Women and Gender Studies. I currently work for The Art Institute of New York City as a Residence Life Coordinator as well as a current writer for La Femme Latina. In college, I worked for a non-profit organization that allowed me to really tackle my passion of helping others deal with body image and self-esteem issues through the facilitation of workshops and the creating of activities that empowered young women and men.

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Comments

  1. I’m going to take you one step further and say that the word “fat” can be reclaimed as a neutral term. In fact, fat doesn’t necessarily mean unhealthy, nor does healthy necessarily mean skinny or “fit.” The words we use do have a lot of power and impact and so it’s important to remember the negative connotations that load those potentially hurtful words to begin with!

    Great post though. Thank you for sharing it! <3

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