Over the holidays, there’s a chance that someone will comment on your weight or food choices. This is especially true if it’s been a while since you last saw your friends and family, as they might be more likely to comment on any changes or behaviors they notice. Catching up with friends and family allows you to reconnect, but it can also bring up food and weight comments. Even if these statements come from a positive space, they can affect the way you feel about yourself for the evening and beyond. To help you through your holiday gatherings, it’s a good idea to be ready for those situations, so you know what to say if they happen.
- Why Do People Make Weight Comments?
- Mental Wellness: How to Cope With Weight Comments and Body Compliments
- Body Shaming: Dealing With Comments at Holiday Gatherings
Why Do People Make Weight Comments?
Body compliments, weight comments, and statements about your food choices or diet are not limited to holiday gatherings. However, it feels like there are even more conversations about weight, diet, and food during the holidays. Maybe your cousin mentions that someone in the family has gained a little quarantine weight, for example. Sometimes, just hearing weight comments about other people can be triggering enough.
So, why do people feel the need to make weight comments? After all, what you eat or how you look doesn’t affect anyone else. Something to keep in mind is that if somebody comments on your weight or body, it’s actually more about how they feel about themselves. Often, when someone feels bad about themselves, they project that feeling onto you.
While that doesn’t justify some of the comments you have to combat, remember that other people are also struggling. They are coping in the best way they know how. Whether weight comments come from a place of positivity or body shaming, it can feel almost impossible not to let it get to you.
Even compliments on weight loss can be met with mixed feelings. On the one hand, you might feel proud if somebody comments on your weight loss. But on the other hand, it might feel offensive, and you might think: “So this means they thought I was fat before.” You can see how even a comment from a positive space can have a negative effect on a person. You never really know what someone else is going through. Someone could be suffering from an eating disorder, and a small weight comment could stick in their mind well after you leave and have a lasting impact.
Mental Wellness: How to Cope With Weight Comments and Body Compliments
Self-esteem, body shaming, and weight issues are problems that people of all ages deal with. Research shows that parents and other family members influence teenagers’ body image and self-esteem. Direct comments about body weight or the shape of developing bodies, teasing, and putting children on diets to lose weight all have a negative impact. Weight-based comments can be highly triggering for many people, from children to adults.
For someone with, or recovering from, an eating disorder, weight comments could further fuel the illness or cause a relapse. If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, it’s essential that you seek help from a registered dietitian. The earlier you start treating an eating disorder, the higher the chance of recovery. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) has a helpline and resources so that you can find the help you need.
When it comes to body comments, sometimes it feels like you can’t win. You’re either not eating enough, overeating, or filling up your plate too much. Having to navigate body and weight comments throughout the holiday season is off-putting. If a friend or family member comments on your weight or food choices, here are some helpful ways to move forward.
Remain Neutral and Stay Firm
If someone comments about your food choices, try to remain calm and neutral. Here are some comments you may hear:
- “You’re going for seconds?”
- “You are so thin; you should eat more.”
- “Are you sure you should eat that?”
Although comments like these can be frustrating and hurtful, try to take a deep breath and remain calm. Responses like the following could help you address the situation:
- “Our bodies are all different, and we all need different foods.”
- “My plate is perfect right now; I’ll go back if I need to later.”
Sometimes, a person may not be aware of how a comment makes you feel. Telling a friend or family member how you feel and why the conversation is problematic could be an excellent opportunity for both sides to connect and grow. Not everyone may feel how you do, so explaining this can help them see your point of view.
Lead With Kindness and Compassion
There is no rulebook on how to deal with weight comments. Sometimes the words hit hard, and taking the high road feels impossible. But it’s important to remind yourself that your body is unique and to be kind and compassionate to yourself. The minute you feel like those food or weight comments could trigger you into a negative place, cut the conversation short. You can do this in a way that’s calm and compassionate. Sometimes the best way forward is to set an example of respecting people’s food choices and leaving diet conversations off the dinner table.
Body Shaming: Dealing With Comments at Holiday Gatherings
Maybe you are healing your relationship with food or trying to disconnect from diet culture. All that body and food talk can send you to a negative space. The bottom line is, you don’t know what’s going on in someone else’s head. No matter how good a comment may sound, you just don’t know how they will perceive it or feel. Even saying, “Oh, you look so slim!” could be triggering for someone. Despite there being no need to comment on someone’s weight, sometimes people still say things that can be hurtful and tough to handle. By staying calm and collected, you can feel ready to navigate those difficult conversations this holiday season if they occur.