It needs to be socially understood that it is not acceptable to comment on someone else’s body. Recently I’ve heard things like, “Do you ever eat?” or “Take some of my fat! You’re so skinny you could probably lose it in a week!” I am aware that these are intended to be backhanded compliments, but let me make it clear that they aren’t. You have no idea why someone’s body looks the way it does. It could be anything from genetics, an eating disorder, side effect of medication, or bad eating habits that are likely the result of lacking access to healthy food. You have no idea what kind of can of worms you could be opening with those “compliments.”
Another thing about them is that they usually aren’t genuine; the reason I get told these things a lot is because the person saying it is insecure about their own physical appearance and is trying to make me feel guilty about mine so they don’t have to feel so threatened by me.
The worst thing is that I hear this stuff from people with heavier builds than mine! Our society is too focused on slender bodies and does not spend enough time appreciating, let alone accepting, thicker bodies. And people who are larger than me probably get told much ruder things about their bodies, which is also never okay. You do not need to tell someone that they are skinny or fat because chances are they know! Would you tell me “Oh my god, you’re so white!”? No, because you know that I know, so why are you wasting your breath?
Unless you are a doctor, you are not qualified to tell someone that they need to gain/lose weight or eat more/less.
My body looks the way it looks. If you are not close to me, you do not need to tell me what I already know. If you think I am beautiful, cool; if you think I am ugly, cool. Keep it to yourself. I should not be made to feel ashamed or self-conscious about my body, and neither should anyone else.
So, I don’t usually make posts like this, but as of lately I’ve been getting comments and I think this issue needs to be addressed.
Don’t Even Go There
Dear Don’t Even Go There,
Amen! Our bodies are beautiful beings that carry us through life. Let’s respect and honor our own, and others. Readers, your thoughts? Post them in the comments, below!
My question is: How can I make myself think before I speak or act? Whenever I disagree with someone, which happens a lot these days, I say or do something I later wish I hadn’t. I end up internally fuming over what I wish I’d said.
Dear If Only,
This is a great question. I can relate. I’ll probably publish this response, and later I’ll think of a few more things to say. On a blog post, there’s a handy update feature. In conversations, not so much. Improv is the final performance. We can’t reel back in something we wish we hadn’t said. And, it seems we can’t stop our minds from grinding on the regrets.
Lately I’ve had some success in getting out of a mental rut. I’ve discovered my thought processes can change, with time and conscious effort. We need to attend to the part of us that says, “So, I said to myself….” That’s the part of our consciousness that is the Observer. Let the Observer recognize when you’re having a thought that you don’t want to have. But, don’t beat up on yourself when you do! Just acknowledge the thought, then choose another. Over time, you’ll see a change.
Recently, there was a difficult person in my life who found their way into my thoughts. Truth is, I let that person into my head, and it was up to me to release them. One day while journaling (yet again) about this person, I stopped writing and imagined a beautiful sunset on the beach. My thought about this person bobbed in the water, and a sea gull came along and scooped the thought up and flew away with it. This beach scene became my go-to image when the Observer stepped in. You might call it my happy place! The gull carried the thoughts, and this person, out of my awareness. No amount of fretting over this person would have changed the situation; it was time to release them, and myself, from the rut.
When the Observer calls, turn your thoughts to ones of gratitude, beauty, and love. Above all, be easy on yourself when you over-think things. A lot of us are in the habit! Your desire to change it is an important start to making the change. I’m not sure we ever get completely over it, but we can move past it more quickly with that conscious effort. We CAN choose better things to focus on.
Dear Readers: In a quandary? Life got you down? Need some perspective? If you’d like to submit a question, click here. I look forward to hearing from you, or “for a friend.” Please add your thoughts, and suggestions in the comments section, below.
Disclaimer: The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. The opinions or views expressed in this column are not intended to treat or diagnose; nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed professional, physician or mental health professional. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require professional, psychological or medical help, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist. This column, its author, and the publisher are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any given situation. You, and only you, are completely responsible for your actions. We reserve the right to edit letters for length and clarity, and all comments are moderated.