The article “Tell Loved Ones They are Overweight This Christmas” is making the rounds again. I will not be linking to it because I have no interest in driving traffic there. I will say that should my loved ones take this advice the follow-up article will be “I Told My Loved One She Is Overweight and She Told Me to Sit Down, Shut Up and Mind My Own Damn Business.”
The article says that in a poll of more than 2,000 people, 42% of 18 to 24-year-olds would not tell a loved one they should lose weight because of a fear they would hurt the other person’s feelings.
According to the article, this suggests that ” too many people shy away from the issue”. According to me this proves that 42% of 18-24 year olds have common decency and/or realize that it is impossible for a fat person in our culture to not know that society has a negative opinion about our size. Stated another way, 58% of 18-24 year olds did not eat their bowl of No Shit Sherlock Flakes on the day that the poll was taken.
According to their so-called expert (who works for an organization that appears to make money pretending that they successfully make fat people thin), “if someone close to you has a large waistline then as long as you do it sensitively, discussing it with them now could help them avoid critical health risks later down the line and could even save their life.”
No, it won’t. Discussing it with them will do nothing positive for their health but may very well ruin their holiday and your relationship, so there’s no need to put on your “Concern Troll Man” tights and cape and self-righteously pretend that you are the superhero who saves fat people from ourselves.
Every person who deals with this kind of bullshit (whether it’s holiday-related or not) gets to decide how they want to handle it. You are, as always, the boss of your underpants.
Let me suggest that you don’t have to put up with body-shaming (during holidays you celebrate or any other time). You don’t have to put up with body snarking, body stigma, or concern trolling. You don’t have to allow a running commentary on your body, health, or food choices from anyone. You don’t have to accept treatment you don’t like because people are your family, friends, or because they “mean well”. And you don’t have to internalize other people’s bullshit, you don’t have to buy into the thin=better/healthier/prettier paradigm or be preached at by people who do.
Loving your body is an act of sheer courage and revolution in this culture. Instead of another article about how to avoid holiday weight gain, here’s what I would like to see all over Facebook, and hear on the radio, television and at gatherings all over the world during the holidays and every other time of year:
My body is not a representation of my failures, sins, or mistakes. My body is not a sign that I am in poor health, or that I am not physically fit neither of which is your business regardless. My body is not up for public discussion, debate or judgment. My body is not a signal that I need your help or input to make decisions about my health or life. My body is the constant companion that helps me do every single thing that I do every second of every day and it deserves respect and admiration. If you are incapable of appreciating my body that is your deficiency, not mine, and I do not care. Nor am I interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter so, if you want to be around me, you are 100% responsible for doing whatever it takes to keep those thoughts to yourself. If you are incapable of doing that I will leave and spend my time with people who can treat me appropriately. Please pass the green beans.
As always I think that preparation is the best friend of the fatty. If you suspect that you may be the victim of holiday fat-shaming then I suggest being prepared. Here are some ideas:
Know what your boundaries are and decide on consequences that you can live with ahead of time. Don’t threaten things that you won’t follow through on. So try something like “My body is fine, your behavior is inappropriate. If there is one more comment about my weight, I am leaving.” Practice it before you go so that you are ready. The common thread among my friends who have done this is that they’ve only had to do it once and then their bodies (and wishes) were respected, and they all report feeling incredibly empowered. As always, your mileage may vary.
Consider talking with members of your family who have been repeat offenders prior to the holiday. Or send out a holiday newsletter e-mail explaining your commitment to Size Acceptance and/or Health at Every Size and that comments about your weight are not welcome. Remind yourself (as often as necessary) that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you – their concern trolling behavior is inappropriate.
Do what it takes to take care of yourself, have a friend you can call for support, create a mantra, or keep an index card or note on your phone with inspiring quotes. Keep putting the problem where it belongs – which is on the concern trolls and not on your body.
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If you want to tell clapback to fatphobes in song, Jeanette DePatie and I have you covered with our latest re-vamped holiday song!
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One thought on “Dealing with Family and Friend Body-Shaming”
Need a Fat Pack of Flash Cards for the Top Twenty bullshit comments about fat, fat bodies, fat women, fat consumption and diet / weight loss fallacies. One side Comments, other side, Responses with options for family, friends, co-workers, and total strangers. G rated and R rated options.