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.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less