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4 Ways to Deal with a Body-Shaming Family Member
The holiday season is right around the corner, which means you’re going to have to spend time with some family members that aren’t supportive of you and your body. There will be plenty of delicious food and drinks around, and you might indulge a little more than you usually do. If you have a family member that likes to make comments or give you the side eye while you’re chowing down it can make the holidays not nearly as fun.
It doesn’t matter if it’s passed off as a joke or a blunt statement; when someone comments on another person’s body, it can be incredibly negative for the person on the receiving end. A study was published in the journal Obesity that found when someone is body shamed verbally it can lead to a higher risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease.
“There is a common misconception that stigma might help motivate individuals with obesity to lose weight and improve their health,” lead author Rebecca Pearl, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, said to Science Daily. “We are finding it has quite the opposite effect. When people feel shamed because of their weight, they are more likely to avoid exercise and consume more calories to cope with this stress.”
Have you been on the receiving end of one of these comments when you go for seconds or enjoy a dessert? Did you let it slide because you didn’t want to create an uncomfortable situation in front of your family? We want you to enjoy the holiday season and all of the food that comes with it. So we’ve come up with a handful of ways to deal with your body-shaming family members below.
1. Prepare ahead of time
You probably already know who it is that’s going to make a comment. Before you head out to the event, come up with a game plan of how you’re going to deal with it.
You can respond with something that covers the bases as simple as, “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t make comments about my body.” Ask another family member beforehand to back you up and strengthen your statement.
2. Don’t Attend
Sometimes not attending is best for you and your own mental health, but don’t come up with an excuse for not attending, though.
Write an email or message on social media to your family explaining why you’re not attending. If you don’t feel comfortable, tell one family member and have them spread the word out to the rest of them for you.
3. Avoid them
It’s perfectly fine to steer clear of those people that make negative comments about your body. Sometimes it’s not entirely possible if you have a small family or they seek you out. If they do make a comment, just use that statement from earlier to cover your bases, “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t make comments about my body.”
4. Don’t get upset with them
If you act out of anger, it’s only going to make the situation worse. The person you’re trying to confront more than likely won’t understand how their comment hurt you. If you stay calm, the person is more likely to learn how their comments hurt you. They were probably just thinking they were trying to help.
If the person making the comments is someone much closer to you – like a parent – it’s usually easier to address. Because they’re closer to you, you’ll have a better chance to sit down and talk with them about how their comments hurt you, rather than with your Uncle or cousin that you don’t see very often. You can also explain that you understand that they’re only trying to help you, but there are smoother and less harsh ways to do it.
This holiday season we want you to have a great time and enjoy everything around you. But that can be hard when you’re worried about being body-shamed. That’s why we’ve put together this list to give you some ideas on how to tackle the challenge and still have a good time while finally educating your family member that enough is enough.
If you’re lucky enough to be spending the holidays with your family this year, you should be able to do so while feeling comfortable in your own skin.