No matter who body shaming comes from, it can be hurtful. We can be body shamed by strangers, by people online, by family members or by people we know. Everyone is susceptible to it, large and small, young and old, male or female.
I’ve had my fair share of it over the years. In fact, not long after I met Frederic, the Frenchman I dated, many years ago, I was gob smacked when he came out and told me that, while he thought I was pretty, I could do with losing my “puffiness”. I promptly told him I was happy with who I was.
Unfortunately, people are judged for being a higher weight in this society, mainly because of our idolization of skinny people and a general fear of fat.
However, on the flip side, naturally thin people are often on the receiving end of harsh comments about their bodies as well. ‘You’re so thin, why don’t you eat more?’ My sister in-law, Louise, a high school teacher, is in a healthy weight range for her height. I was alarmed to hear that, even she was being judged by other teachers for being “too thin”.
Such comments are ignorant and don’t take into account the state of someone’s health. Sometimes illness or stress can cause weight loss, just as certain medications or underlying health conditions can cause weight gain. For instance, a bout of hypothyroidism.
Either way, we can’t win in a society that continues to pass judgement on the superficial. Beauty really does comes from within, from the soul and spirit, regardless of size of the physical body. The most important thing is to feel comfortable in ourselves, whatever size we may be.
It’s awful that we live in a judgmental, often openly hateful, body shaming uncivil culture. Social media and online bullying has exacerbated the problem too.
When people feel at liberty to pass judgements about our bodies, no matter how rude or hurtful it might be, we need to feel strong and secure within ourselves to drown out the negative comments.
If someone says something unkind about our weight, we can feel free to say something back. It’s good to have a few phrases up our sleeve for when the occasion arises. For instance, we can say, “My weight is none of your business” or
“I love my body just the way it is” or
“There is more to me than the size of my body” or
“Why does my size bother you?”
We can choose not to internalize their negative comments, because, well, they are the ones with the problem, not us. No-one can make us feel bad, without our permission.
When people judge other people, they are really judging themselves. It’s also known as ‘projecting’, a term referring to unconsciously taking unwanted emotions or traits we don’t like about ourselves and attributing them to someone else.
Hence, we need to keep telling ourselves: there is nothing wrong with me, but there is something wrong with people who judge me for my weight.
While it’s never okay for someone to pass judgement on our body, we can decide if we want to allow their comments to have a negative impact on us or not. For instance, if someone says, “You could do with losing a few pounds”, it’s helpful to consider where this person is coming from. Is it a place of genuine care for us? Or are they deliberately hurting us because they themselves, are hurting?
I am always reminded of a favorite Buddhist quote by Sri Chinmoy which is “Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.”
So, the next time someone says something unkind about our size, we can send them love. People can and will have opinions, but we should never let those opinions let us doubt ourselves. Ultimately, it’s our body, our choice. The only opinion that ever really matters, with regards to our body, is our own.
What about you? Have you ever been body shamed? What did you say?
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G'day. Welcome to my blog, where I write about mindful eating. My name is Sally Asher and I'm a wellness author of three books. I hold a Health Science degree and have a passion for behavioral change. I live between South Florida and Melbourne with my husband and two teenagers. My husband and I run a real estate investment company. I love to help people eat mindfully and reconnect with the innate, intuitive sense of eating that we are all born with.