Reader Kathryn sent me an article called, and I am not kidding, “Tell Loved Ones They are Overweight This Christmas”. I will not be linking to it because I have no desire to increase traffic and there is no opportunity to comment. 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 treat obesity), “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 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 super hero who saves fat people from ourselves.
We decide how other people treat us, either by setting boundaries or by not setting them. I respect however you decide to allow people to treat you. You are, as always, the boss of your underpants.
But let me suggest that you don’t have to put up with holiday weight shame. 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 paradigm or be preached to by people who do.
We are not the first group of people who have been treated like second class citizens in a wave of public hysteria. But no group of people has ever risen above this by buying into the mistaken belief that they are inferior. 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 this holiday season:
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. 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 weight shame then be prepared. Here are some suggestions:
Know what your boundaries are and decide on consequences that you can live with. 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.” The common thread among my friends who have done this is that they’ve only had to do it once and then their bodies were respected, and they all report feeling incredibly empowered. Contrast that with saying “if you say one more thing I’m never speaking to you again” but then not following through. Now you feel like a failure, and you’ve taught people that your boundaries aren’t real and that your consequences are idle.
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 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. Have a HAES buddy you can call for sanity checks. Be brave, be strong, and teach people how to treat you appropriately.
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