We’ve all had that moment: when our mom, relative, or grandma glances curiously at us and says, “do you really think you need that 3rd cookie?”
Or our partner tells us, “you know, you should really go to the gym more; you’d feel a lot better!”
So what do we do when someone makes a comment about our weight or food?
First a quick story…
I spent a year in Ecuador and gained probably 25 pounds when I was there.
I left the United States coming off a period of some restriction (and so was at a lower weight). When I came back, I was battling an intestinal issue and had gained a lot of weight.
One of things I was so deeply ashamed about was the embarrassment that I was a failure. I couldn’t manage my own weight.
(To me, it was the ultimate failure...it seemed like something so easy to manage and I just couldn’t do it.)
My family and friends hadn’t seen me in a year; I KNEW they were thinking how much weight I had gained.
One morning I went to Starbucks to get some coffee on my way home from working out.
The guy behind me was someone I recognized from the gym. I re-joined the same workout facility that I had gone to pre-weight gain.
So I knew this guy had seen me “before” and “after”. I completely avoided him, 100% in my head about how fat I felt and thought I looked.
He politely made some small talk with me while in line and then asked me a question I would remember for the rest of my life:
“So, when are you due?”
“What???!!!!!” I asked him, not sure I heard him correctly.
“Are you….um, pregnant?”
He asked again, a bit more hesitant, as he seemed to sense the horror in my voice.
Panic bubbled up in my throat. My chest tightened. Tears welled up in my eyes.
I was mortified. I wanted to melt into the floor and disappear.
A million thoughts chaotically ping ponged through my head.
“I’ve gotta lose weight, I’m a hideous beast, I’m embarrassingly large, I must diet, my body is disgusting…”
The only response I could muster was a quick shake of my head.
I turned around so he wouldn’t see the tears spill over onto my cheeks.
I ordered my coffee as fast as I could, ran out to my car, flung myself inside and started heaving with sobs.
The deep shame and embarrassment I felt flooded through my body.
My embarrassment quickly turned to rage.
“WHO does he think he IS?!” I angrily thought to myself.
“A man should NEVER comment on a woman’s weight…isn’t that rule one in the male guidebook?!”
I stewed in my car, vowing to say something to him the next time I saw him.
I have thought about that situation more times than I can count over the years.
There are so many things I wish I said to him that day! (**Polite, not-so-polite, and everything in between 🙂 )
But alas, I didn’t…because I didn’t know what to say.
If someone ever commented on my weight or food now? I’d walk myself through these 4 steps below 🙂
Here are some tips on how what to do when someone comments on your weight (or what you eat!)
1. FEEL the emotions.
Comments about our appearance or what we choose to eat can bring up rage, anger, exasperation, and immense frustration. Don’t shy away from it; let yourself lean into it.
If you feel like it’s not fair, stomp around like a toddler throwing a tantrum.
If you are so angry you want to hit something, grab a pillow to punch.
If you’re so hurt you could cry, let those tears out.
Comments like that HURT. Allow yourself to feel that hurt, pissed-off-ness and injustice. You are absolutely allowed to be mad.
When I’m upset or triggered about something, I tend to be VERY reactive and emotional. Pause for a minute here. Leave the room if you need to. Get up and walk away from the table or conversation.
Collect, gather yourself, take a deep breath and THEN decide how you want to move forward. Reacting from the space of being really upset isn’t usually good; we can say things we don’t mean. Take the high road and pause before you say something 🙂
3. Remind yourself of their intentions.
99% of the time, the person’s intentions are not malicious.
The guy who asked if I was expecting? I’m sure he was just making small talk.
The relative who asks us if we need to be eating that piece of cake? That’s usually the only way they know how to express concern about your health.
The partner who mentions we might try out a gym class? They typically feel like they’re giving us good, sound advice to help us feel healthier.
It’s usually never meant to be mean, critical, and rude. (Although if it is, that’s an entirely other blog post!)
Remind yourself of that. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Stewing in anger & rage only ends up hurting ourselves.
4. Be clear about what you do and don’t “allow” into your space.
There is a quote that applies here:
Are we allowing others to walk over us?
Do we stand by as people discuss our health and weight?
Are we standing our ground and speaking our truth?
YOU are in charge of your path. And you get to tell people that their comments are NOT appreciated (in a polite way of course).
You get to be clear on your boundaries.
That what you eat is no one else’s business.
That your journey is just that: your journey. (It takes COURAGE to speak up! It is not easy)
You know what’s best for you.
If you’re still learning to find your balance of letting of of dieting and your weight hasn’t yet balanced out…then that’s no one’s business but yours.
Above all else, give yourself EXTRA love when you feel hurt about a comment.
This journey really is against the grain (“Oh, you want to lose weight? Just try XYZ diet,” says every person who thinks they’re being helpful), so surround yourself with others on this path who can inspire you when you get down!