When people think of fat shamers—the type of people who put down others for being overweight or eating a certain amount—what comes to mind?
Many people may picture the skinny, popular girls from elementary school, making fun of how much an overweight girl eats or making comments about her body while in the girls’ locker room.
Now, imagine this: what if those same bullies were actually the people closest to you, like your parents, friends or even your partner? It’s one of those scenarios that seems hard to fathom, but fat shamers have taken on a new form, and it’s likely that one or more of these types of people are already in your life.
Think back to the times you’ve gone home for the Christmas holidays and dreaded seeing the aunt who’s as consistent with making comments about your weight as she is about bringing her famous brownies. Whether you’re too big or too skinny, she always has something to say.
Or maybe it’s from your mom who refuses to let you try on anything other than a size large while shopping because she says “there’s no way anything less will fit you.”
Past boyfriends may have also made you feel self-conscious through comments that seem innocent and playful. Take Sierra, a 21-year-old communications student, whose ex-boyfriend once referred to her as “Miss Piggy” in front of everyone at a party when she went to grab another slice of pizza.
With comments like these, how are women supposed to feel?
According to the Daily Mail Online, “Fat shaming can have a much worse impact on mental and physical health than racism or sexism.” It’s a pretty big claim, but think of the negative effects that stem from fat-shaming. These can include anything from low-self esteem, eating disorders to lower life satisfaction and a multitude of other life-damaging consequences.
The worst part is that, for those who know they’re overweight and may already feel bad about themselves, having other people—especially the ones closest to them—make hurtful comments like these is like kicking them when they’re already down.
To put a stop to all of this and #EndFatShaming, refusing to let other’s comments get to you is the crucial first step. No matter how hurtful, remember that you are beautiful and take pleasure in the fact that you’re a person who enjoys food. There’s too many people in this world who are missing out on the simple pleasures in life simply because they’re restricting themselves so heavily.
Secondly, you have to address the problem at the root with open and honest communication. If you’re getting fed up with comments from your loved ones about how much weight you’ve gained or how much you eat, speak up and let them know how it feels. If they’re able to say these hurtful comments in the first place, it’s likely that they’re unaware of how much it’s affecting you.
Thirdly, figure out what you want. If it’s to cut back on your portion sizes, work out a little more and try to lose a bit of weight, while still indulging every once in a while, go for it. Create a fitness and nutrition plan that will allow you to still enjoy life. A good plan, for example, is the 80/20 diet. This means that you eat 80 percent healthy and the other 20 percent is for your treat meals like a burger or an ice cream every once in a while.
With this knowledge, you’ll guard yourself against the hurtful comments from the ones you love, feel good about standing up for yourself and even learn to love and appreciate your body a little more.
Now go, eat in peace.