Body shaming: how to react when a loved one criticizes your physique

Whether it’s teasing, constructive criticism, or outright physical humiliation, it’s an especially painful feeling when your loved ones denigrate your appearance. And yet, it’s not a unique experience: it happens to everyone, from super sensitive people to people with a big shell. My little brother once compared my thighs to hams. He was only a child, and I laughed at it, but the words are still etched in my memory. They pop up randomly – when I’m trying on jeans, when I’m wondering if a skirt is the right length, or when I’m sitting next to thigh-high strangers in the subway ( Hmm, hers are more like hot dogs ).

If you come home for some event to spend time with these well-meaning but often obnoxious people, you may be preparing for an avalanche of remarks like this, since the family seems more than comfortable to mention. that you are “too thin” and that you “must eat!” or that you seem “to be doing well” (what does that mean by the way?).

According to experts, it can take years to get rid of these kinds of comments, whether they are humorous or serious, usual or isolated. The words of our family members have a profound impact whether we like it or not. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with these interactions that empower you in real time and help you get through the pain faster.

Mentally prepare for the situation.

Body shaming: how to react when a loved one criticizes your physique

If you’re going to a family event where you’re likely to feel vulnerable to attacks from a sly cousin or hypercritical grandmother, prepare a few emotional strategies ahead of time. “There are tons of subtle ways to take care of yourself.” “It might sound silly, but try massaging your hands, noticing the colors around you, or mentally replaying your favorite comedian video.” Damage control is much easier if you’ve anticipated the scenario and have a few quick tips to avoid reacting explosively or weaving a web of negative thoughts.

Remember that their intentions can be good, even if their words are inappropriate.

Body shaming: how to react when a loved one criticizes your physique

When the people who care about you the most say insensitive things, it’s hard to believe they’re doing it in your best interests. But sometimes these harsh comments come from a feeling of benevolence. “Body shaming by family members can be unintentional.” “Often, mothers criticize their daughters’ weight in order to ‘help’ them meet people, feel happier or be more successful. Other times, these people feel like it is wrong. them to tell their families the ‘truth’ about their appearance. The next time your mom tells you your clothes are tighter than usual, remember that it could be her desperate attempt to show you that she cares.

Let silence (or a few well-chosen words) speak volumes.

Body shaming: how to react when a loved one criticizes your physique

When your sister gives you a “funny” remark about your new hairstyle or an inappropriate compliment that you seem to have lost weight, consider not responding. “At the moment, the most powerful response can sometimes be a non-response.” Just look at the person who made the rude comment and don’t say anything at all. This shows that you heard what she said, but you remain silent, which can help the person realize their blunder – and maybe even embarrass them. Another simple answer that returns attention to the problem: “Why this question?”

Instantly call your friends.

Body shaming: how to react when a loved one criticizes your physique

This is the only time you can pick up your phone, even at a formal family reunion. Grab your purse, go to the bathroom, and call your most empathetic friend – or the one who is likely to answer you quickly. Even if it doesn’t, it can be extremely therapeutic to let off steam on obnoxious comments: “My mom just asked me what was on my face in front of everyone. Umm, is she? too old to remember? VDM buttons. Experts agree that moral support from your other family – the one you have chosen – is essential to get through these times with your sense of humor (and sanity ) intact.

Be proactive so that this does not happen again.

Body shaming: how to react when a loved one criticizes your physique

Instead of ruminating on the interaction and mentally reproducing it in a masochistic fashion, indulge in anger, mortification, sadness, etc. It’s easier to let go of negative feelings after accepting them. Plus, pretending to be okay won’t help. “Looking good comes at a cost.” We often feel worse when we suppress our emotions. But don’t fret over and over. If this is someone you care about maintaining a bond with, consider taking them aside and calmly explaining how their words made you feel. “For your own respect, it may be helpful to speak up and ask for a change in the future,” she says. “It’s much easier for people to understand our expectations when we make specific requests, like ‘I don’t appreciate your talking about my legs.’

If you have to, get them out of your life.

Body shaming: how to react when a loved one criticizes your physique

It might sound extreme, but sometimes the best thing to do with people who are used to making you feel bad is to end those relationships, or at least take a significant break. This can be difficult to achieve with some people, like your mom or sister, but if they constantly make you uncomfortable, consider limiting the time you spend with them. “Some people will always be hurtful.” No matter how well you prepare for their verbal aggression, they can inflict pain with remarkable speed and with formidable efficiency. Making peace can mean putting distance – such as by thousands of miles, if necessary. If that’s not an option, try to set new firm boundaries that involve not seeing them as much and keeping interactions brief.

See it as a chance to boost your self-confidence.

Body shaming: how to react when a loved one criticizes your physique

When someone denigrates you, it’s up to you to decide whether you will accept it. It’s natural and human to feel upset by criticism – especially from your family – but if you manage not to let those words influence your mood and thoughts, you become a more confident person, who refuses to be the victim of someone’s callousness or judgment. “Each of us must learn to love ourselves, no matter what someone else says or thinks about us.” That doesn’t mean the comments won’t hurt.

Daniel Bishopp

Daniel U. Bishopp joined LA MODE in November 2020 to work on the features team covering fashion, culture, food and drink and technology in print and online. Before that, he worked for STYLE ME AFRICA.

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