Dealing with Pushback When Setting Boundaries Around Fatphobia

Image Text: When I say “It is not ok to talk about my weight or food, if it continues I will leave,"
I’m not trying to control what people think, I am stating clearly what behavior I will and will not tolerate, and what I will do if they continue behavior I find intolerable.
Image Text: When I say “It is not ok to talk about my weight or food, if it continues I will leave,”
I’m not trying to control what people think, I am stating clearly what behavior I will and will not tolerate, and what I will do if they continue behavior I find intolerable.

Sometimes people worry that if they set a boundary, like saying “It’s not ok to body shame me or I will leave” that other people will think that they “can’t handle the truth” and are “trying to control what I think.”

People may well think or say those things.  If there’s anything that I’ve learned from my trolls, it’s that people will go to any length to justify their prejudice to themselves and anyone who will listen.  We cannot control what people think of us, nor can we control their behavior.  For me in these situations, I’m less concerned with what people think, and more concerned about how they treat me in my presence.

So when I say “It is not ok to talk about my weight or eating. If anyone says one more thing about it I’m going to leave.”  I’m not trying to control what people think – they can think whatever the hell they want, I am stating clearly what behavior I will and will not tolerate, and what I will do if they continue behavior I find intolerable.

If they continue discussing my weight or eating and I leave, it’s not to control what they think – it’s to remove myself from a situation, to keep myself safe and well, and to make it clear that I’m serious about my boundaries.

People who want to ignore and break our boundaries will use all kinds of tactics, including suggesting that we are trying to control them, that we are creating the problem etc. We don’t have to fall for that.

If people want to spend time with me they have to treat me a certain way, which includes not body shaming or food policing me. So while they are allowed to think whatever they want about me, my body, and my food choices, they are, at the very least, 100% responsible for keeping those thoughts to themselves if they want to talk to me.

It’s not that I “can’t handle” what they think is the truth, it’s that I don’t have to, and so I won’t.

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5 thoughts on “Dealing with Pushback When Setting Boundaries Around Fatphobia

  1. “You can’t handle the truth.” Usually just means, “You are entitled to MY OPINION about YOU and if YOU don’t like it, that’s your problem. I’m going to be a jerk, you’re responsible for how you feel about it.” It is the asshole’s excuse for continuing assholery.
    Figuratively and literally walk away. They’ll either end up with yes-friends, (people who agree with them on all things) or have no friends when they realize they have burned everyone past the point of tolerating their BS.

  2. I’m always looking for a good way to say, “I don’t want to hear body shaming” when someone isn’t referring directly to me but talking about other people. I want to talk about my feelings in a real way as opposed to scolding them, since the latter just leaves a bad taste in everybody’s mouth.

  3. The way I see it, fatphobes are going to think and believe awful things about me no matter what I do, so there’s no reason not to set and enforce boundaries around how much of their bullshit I’ll entertain. It’s possible… likely, even… they’re going to respond by thinking and maybe even saying that I’m just another weak, greedy, lazy fatty who doesn’t want to “better myself,” but that’s going to waste a lot less of my time than if I let them pick through my plate, fridge, and grocery cart for the next three hours, so it’s as much of a win as I’m ever going to get out of a situation like that.

    1. I’m starting to think Tourette’s level spitting has its upside…

      And if that doesn’t work, nuthin like a booger on a finger to make em run.

      I am NOT kidding. There are some situations where gross may be the defense of choice.

  4. I have that one friend who always brings this up, I have warned him so often in the past and told him this is hurtful and unacceptable. Why does he keep provoking me and keep doing it over and over again? Enough with food policing!

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