How Little Comments Actually Impact a Girl’s Self-esteem

Hey everyone, I know that this isn’t my usual format but stay with me because hopefully I am going to make it worth your time. This month, I’ve decided to let my blog post stray from its normal lightheartedness and instead get a little more serious.

About a week or so ago I posted a picture (surprise, surprise right) of a shirt I bought from Forever 21. I put it on the gram, got some compliments on the shirt, got some funny comments from my friends about my belly button that was showing, it was no biggie. I forgot about it and continued on with my day. However, I soon was flooded with comments from random people questioning my motives for posting the picture. “Why did you post a picture of your chest on Instagram?” “Dude, what was up with that boob picture?” And my personal favorite, a video of someone mocking my voice and saying, “I’m Ainsley and I post pictures of my boobs on Instagram.” My only reaction, “Hold up, what???!!!” I can’t seem to recall anytime where I had ever posted a picture of my boobs, so if someone would like to point it out, that would be great. Sure, enough all the ties lead back to *drum roll* the picture of my shirt (Aka the boob pic).

Weirdly enough, a couple days later when I was sharing this event with some friends, they all jumped in on how they had all been the victim of comments just like these. They told stories about how inappropriate comments were made about shirts that end at the waist instead of covering their butts when wearing jeans, to stories about dress code violations for pants that had rips above the knee. Seriously, have you ever seen a pair of cute ripped jeans that only had holes below the knee? Exactly, didn’t think so. That’s because they DON’T EXIST! After hearing all of these different accounts, I realized that my situation was not a random thing and that the fact that we all experienced these types of scenarios wasn’t purely coincidental. We were all simply victims to a much bigger issue. The objectification of teenage girls.

Now, at the moment when I first heard the joke about my picture, I was hurt. I know that these people didn’t mean it to be cruel or hurtful. It was a joke they thought was innocent and harmless. I think that that was what bothered me about the situation the most. My main issue, is that these people honestly thought that comments like these were an okay thing to say. They didn’t see anything wrong with it because “it’s only a joke.” At the beginning, I may have been embarrassed about the comments, but at this point, I am just angry.

I am angry that actions as innocent as posting a picture of my clothing (that covered everything) online, or my friend wearing a shirt that didn’t fall to her ankles, is so quickly interpreted as sexual. I am angry that people feel they have the right to make rude comments about my body when no one asked for their opinion. And finally I am angry about the way these comments made me feel. Personally, in that moment I felt belittled and self-conscious. I felt like I should take the picture down. But, I knew I actually didn’t want to. I liked the picture. That’s why I posted it in the first place…because I liked it. By taking it down I would be giving in. I would be saying that I agreed that the picture was inappropriate, when I know it wasn’t. I should never be ashamed of my body, but these comments made me feel guilty, like I had done something I wasn’t supposed to. When in reality, I had done nothing wrong.

By objectifying teenage girls, we strip them of their personality and self-esteem. Putting into their minds that only their bodies are important. It shouldn’t matter whether my whole chest had been on display in that picture or if I had been wearing three turtlenecks, not a single person should feel like they have the right to make any inappropriate comment about my body without my permission.

I am a 15-year-old girl. If you decide to sexualize my $11.99 shirt from the clearance rack then YOU are the problem, not me, my picture, or my adorable shirt.

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Ainsley Allen

Ainsley is a 15 year old girl who currently lives with her mom, dad and sister in Olmsted Falls, Ohio. Throughout her nine years of schooling she quickly learned that while she is an all-around smart girl, her real talents lie in reading and writing. Ainsley is very involved in her community is a cheerleader, competitive dancer and an active member in student council.

Ainsley has always had a love for the arts. While she can't sing a note to save her life, she enjoys dancing, reading good books, writing short stories, listening to different types of music, and wasting all of her money on clothes. Her other interests include going on adventures with her best friends, spending time with her beagle Tess, and making cookie dough.

When she gets older Ainsley wants to pursue a career in fashion journalism, write for a women's magazine (or start her own because why not), and travel the world.

20 CommentsLeave a comment

  • You’re amazing. And you’re not alone. It happens constantly to girls and women online but you have been able to see something that it takes most women years to see or feel. You did nothing WRONG so you won’t give in. You won’t be silenced. You won’t take down the picture and you won’t stop being you. And I am so thankful you were raised with enough confidence to see that at 15. I am proud of you. I wish I could say this was the last time you will experience it – but I promise you, it won’t be. And the comments will only get worse as you get older. But don’t you dare you stop holding your head high or sharing what you want with the world. You’re too smart for that. And PS – I love that shirt (and your bully button).

  • You are a brave, beautiful girl! Don’t let negative comments bring you down. Keep shining and writing honest, impact stories. Thank you for this. You’ll touch more lives than you know. 🙂

  • Good for you to have such adult wisdom at your young age! Pass it on! You will go far with that fighting spirit and I hope your experience serves as a reminder to others that inside that Forever 21 shirt was a rock star:). Great job!

  • Thank you for saying this Ainsley, you put it all into words for us:). Keep doing these babe, I love them.

  • Ainsley I admire your bravery for speaking up on a topic that often gets ignored because we tell ourselves that it is easier to go along with “the joke” and “act” like we don’t care or aren’t hurt.
    Words hurt especially personal ones directed toward our bodies and appearance. Great writing heals! Keep noticing things Ainsley Allen and keep speaking out using your gift for writing!

    • Thank you so much, and yes I feel like the time has come for girls to start sticking up for ourselves and to stop letting these sort of things slide by (:

  • OMG, I can still remember comments from 20+ years ago from my family and weirdos at Kmart that made me really uncomfortable and insecure. We didn’t have social media back then so I can only imagine what it’s like to get constant feedback. Keep being you and don’t take for granted how beautiful and strong your body is at your age.

  • Having young granddaughters of my own I found this article hitting close to my heart. It saddens me that anyone can be so mean to make such hurtful comments and I’m so glad you are mature enough to overlook them and stand up to them. I wish all young girls had your confidence so they would be angry rather than become withdrawn. You have the power to reach so many with your words of wisdom and ability to write and speak out. Keep it up, let your voice be heard!! The shirt is beautiful and you are beautiful ❤️

    • Thank you so much and I am glad that your granddaughters will have such an awesome support system in you (:

  • Thank you so much for writing about your experience. Just this morning I was working to cheer up my almost 9 year old who was putting herself down. Since then I have been thinking about how I can help her realize for herself how wonderful she is just the way she is – how to counteract the influence others have on her self esteem. It will be a daily fight, I think. Your post came at exactly the right time. You have it right. You are beautiful, intelligent, have so much to give to the world, and will have great adventures in life. Kudos to you that you have already learned the lesson that nothing anyone else says about you can hold you back if you don’t let it.

    • This means so much, thank you. I am so glad that this post was beneficial for you and your daughter. Please let her know that she is beautiful inside and out and can do whatever she puts her mind to, no matter what anyone says.

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