Body shaming by our relatives? Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there – men and women alike. You open the door for Aunt Sharon before dinner and are immediately met with comments about your body:
- “Did you lose weight?!”
- “Did you gain weight?!”
- “You look sick!”
- “What happened to you?!”
It’s easy to feel frozen and trapped in this extremely uncomfortable situation. Here are some tips on getting through this year peacefully, with more body confidence than ever.
Don’t Explain Yourself
You are not obligated to discuss your body with anyone – including Aunt Sharon, no matter how much she pushes you to. Your body is just that – YOUR body – and no one else is entitled to information about it.
It won’t help to try to explain your diet, your busy work schedule, etc., and by engaging in a defensive exchange like that, you perpetuate your body’s role as an open topic for discussion.
Is being body shamed ever your fault? NEVER. However, clarifying to blunt relatives that your body is not casual fuel for conversation, will help stop your relatives from broaching the subject.
As mentioned above, shutting down relatives’ body shaming habits starts by creating boundaries with them, distant and close, as well as family friends! You can say things like:
- “I would prefer it if you didn’t make comments about my body.”
- “When you bring up my weight and make judgments about it, I feel hurt and it’s hard to recover. Can you please stop doing that?”
- “If you keep making comments about my body, I will have to leave the conversation (or I will leave the room; or I will have to take some time away from you).”
This last one highly depends on context, but sometimes the only way to drive home the message, is by letting them know that their impact is so bad that you will remove yourself from their presence.
Asserting yourself can feel really difficult, especially with a family member in a group setting. But honesty is the best policy, and letting them know how you feel can really help stop those unnecessary and rude comments from coming out!
Enforce Your Boundaries
In the previous section, we discussed things you can say to family members to get them to understand your feelings and hopefully stop engaging in body shaming behavior. But what if they don’t listen? Enforcing your boundaries is critical.
Don’t feel ashamed for acting on your warnings. If someone continues to call attention to your body, actually leave the room! Sometimes, getting some space away from the body shaming person is the best way to go; it makes them realize how serious you were, and shows them how hurtful they really were.
Leaving the room and removing yourself from a toxic environment is often necessary to reevaluate whether or not you can continue that relationship. You are a priority, and if someone is making you feel less than adequate, you may need time away from them for your own mental health.
Embrace the Journey
You deserve to be happy! Your body is beautiful, no matter what your gender, shape or size, and no one should be allowed to make you feel differently. Check out resources like The Body Image Therapy Center, to help you make strides in your process of cultivating self-love.
By making yourself a priority and cutting out the toxicity, you will show those around you that you don’t need their superficial opinions; they should appreciate your body for keeping you alive and kicking, and for helping you be you!