I rarely meet someone who is completely happy with his or her body. With the media setting higher and higher standards for perfection as celebrities get more procedures to improve their bodies, it’s harder to feel satisfied with what we have.
Like many women, I used to see myself in the distorted mirror that my perception created. My mirror said FAT, but I wasn’t fat. I just wasn’t perfectly thin. I encounter many people who magnify the size of their bodies in their minds and don’t appreciate their good qualities. We’re usually our own worst critics and don’t need others to point out what we already know and dislike.
Yet whether you want to hear it or not, there are some folks who need to point out that you’ve gained a few pounds, or need to lose some weight—like you don’t own a mirror and can’t see it yourself. They scrutinize your body looking for telltale signs of excess weight so they can report it to you. I call them the Fat Police.
In my people pleaser days, I got it a lot of unwanted input about my weight, often from the same people, over and over. It hurt. I wanted to lose weight badly but it was hard. I noticed my jiggly belly even more so than the Fat Police did and wanted to shout at them, “Do you think I’m so stupid or blind that you must make me feel worse by pointing it out?!” But I was too scared of alienating people, even the Fat Police, to say anything. So I’d smile and cry inside.
I once heard a 10-year old girl complain that she hated visiting her grandma because all the neighbors come by and immediately want to see if she’d lost or gained weight. She was crying, asking her mom why people she barely knew cared so much about her body and so little that she was doing well in school. Family, friends, teachers, romantic partners and even strangers assume a right to judge your weight. Often their own insecurity is talking.
When you’re unhappy with yourself, you find fault with others. Those with good self-esteem are less likely to do that. Many members of the Fat Police struggle with their own body image issues. Since they know how painful being overweight can be, they try to “help” people avoid that pain by making sure you know the fat is there. Some need to find fault with others to make themselves feel better. Whatever the reason, you shouldn’t have to endure barbs about your body.
Since becoming more empowered, I dodge Fat Police or use a retort to shut them up. Questions like “Are you sure you want to eat that?” drove me crazy when I was too insecure to speak up. I’d have a nice plate of food and someone would imply I was too fat to enjoy it, so I’d put the plate down. Now I respond, “Do you realize how mean that is?” I’d also hear, “You’d be beautiful without the extra weight.” I say that I’m beautiful now.
Most truly think they’re helping. If it bothers you, speak up to Fat Police! I’ve explained, nicely, how they make me feel. Most don’t understand it hurts and getting specific about why you don’t like their comments, without malice, can get through to many. When it doesn’t I’ve said in a friendly tone:
• “Why does my weight matter to you so much? I’m fine with my body.”
• “I know you don’t enjoy making me feel bad but you do with those comments.”
• “Do you like anything about me? It would be nice to hear that too.”
• ”I can see what I need to do, or not do, for myself.”
Some people say these sound a bit sarcastic or too blunt, which doesn’t go along with my code of being a nice person. But if said with a smile and good attitude, it shuts them up for a while, which is nice for you. It’s better than exploding at someone when you’ve had enough. And even if they get angry, it’s still best to stop the barbs. Often I’ll just say, “Please accept me as I am. I do.” Choose a response based on the person and what feels comfortable. I admit, it still hurts, but I get right past it instead of dwelling. Then I eat my second cookie.
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