A person is stepping through a door in a head onto the shoulders. They are inside their mind and saying hurtful things.

The Tiny Critic in Your Head

The little voice in our mind, that tiny little critic, you know the one that makes us feel terrible about all sorts of situations in life; it doesn’t create itself. It is generally created sometime during our youth. We hear some off hand comment and suddenly ... poof ... there it is.

It grows as we grow up and become teens and adults. When we are young, we often take critique very personally and we have yet developed the ability to separate ourselves from the opinions of others. It could be something as simple as someone saying, "don’t take pictures with your hair up or you’ll look bald" and suddenly there’s now a voice in your head that makes you begin to look at yourself more critically.

But words can never hurt me

Remember that phrase we used to taunt our friends with "stick and stones will break my bones, but words can never hurt me?" I really wish that had been true for me. I’ve always been what would be called "sensitive." The things that people would say negative about me always struck me to the core and I could never really shake them off.

This was especially true for me where my size and weight were concerned. Not only was I heavier than a lot of girls but I was often taller than them (eventually stopping at 5'8"). I remember in fourth grade being told by my teacher I should probably start wearing a bra because my weight had given me breasts earlier than most girls. I remember a girl in the fifth grade asking me if I was pregnant because of how my belly extended out.

I remember being a freshman and a girl suggesting I wear a proper bra rather than a sports bra all the time so that I would have some shape other than round. I recall how every health issue I had as a kid was blamed on my weight by my doctor. I also recall all the times my own mom would say I needed to lose weight.

Our mental reflection

Our mental image of ourselves is created more from outside voices and influences rather than the way we look in a mirror. My mental body image was distorted by all the above plus some. Yes, I was a large woman weighing in at 320 pounds in my mid-20s, but if we were to go based off my mental image, I would have been much larger than that.

I always feared I wouldn’t fit in rides or booths because of my size, even though physically I would manage okay. My inner critic, that little voice that had been created all those years ago, would pipe up though and ask things like, "can you really sit there?" or "are you sure that chair will hold you?" Or even, "maybe you shouldn’t be eating so much if you really want to lose weight," etc., etc., and so on.

It wasn’t until I had made the decision to have the gastric sleeve done that I really began to look at myself differently. I realized that the only problem with being so heavy was that it was leading to further health issues for me, and it slowed me down when trying to keep up with my kids. Other than that, I was still a beautiful human.

Confidence comes and it goes

At times, I still feel less confident than at other times and I let that little voice get louder than necessary in my head. But over the years, through the ups and downs in my size, I’ve come to realize that the voice inside my head is telling me nothing but lies about myself.

My mental image more closely resembles my physical image now as I near 40. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that those that might have something negative to say about me don’t know me well enough to see past the outward appearance. Instead, they base their judgements of me by my size, shape, or personal aesthetic.

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Find Your Peace

Allow yourself, no matter your weight, shape, or size, to find peace with your mental body image. As I’ve come to say, I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but I may be someone’s cup of coffee. Just because one person may have something negative to say about you does not mean that that is all that you are. You are a unique and beautiful person. Despite what that tiny voice in your head might try to make you think.

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