We’ve all been there. Maybe you were the one who said “I’m so fat” or perhaps it was your friend or family member. Many people say it all the time, not even realising that what they are doing is body bashing. So, what should you do next time someone says, “I’m so fat”?
1. It’s time for you to shut up and listen
Take a deep breath and listen. Allow your friend to talk. Your instinct may be to jump in with advice or to tell them off for being fatphobic. But instead, remember love and kindness, allow them to speak and say what they need to say. Truly listen to them, focus on their words rather than what you are going to say once they stop speaking. Usually people with low self-esteem say negative comments about their bodies, regardless of how they look. Be kind.
2. Cheerlead the hell outa them
Reassure. Tell your friend that they are beautiful, imperfectly perfect, and don’t need to change themselves. The only thing that they do need to change is how they see themselves. Point out how grateful they should be to their body that’s KEEPING THEM ALIVE, point out their talents, how amazing they are… etc. Build up that friend like they have never been built up before!!!
3. And THEN nip it in the bud
You’ve built them up, it’s time to nip it in the bud. Explain with love that body bashing is not good for your friend or anyone else. First of all, fat is not bad, nor should it be used as an insult. Secondly, this kind of talk is triggering for everyone else who hears it. Saying “I’m so fat” can impact how everyone else feels in that room. Recipients to these comments might start to worry about their appearance or feel uncomfortable in their skin.
4. Your friend says it again a few weeks or months later
It’s time to just say “ok, let’s not go there. We’ve had this conversation before, and I don’t want to open op the conversation to body bashing. Our bodies do incredible things for us. Let’s celebrate that”. If your friend keeps pushing the topic then respond with positive remarks such as “Well I love my body because it allows me to experience the world, to dance, to sing, to laugh”. Your friend will either start to agree with you or run out of steam.
5. Repeat when necessary
The same technique can be used for all forms of body bashing such as “I hate my (insert body part)” or “Why can’t I look like them?”. Remember, saying negative comments about our bodies is harming not just to ourselves but to everyone else around us. Also, fat is not a bad thing nor should the word be used in a negative context. Fat is neutral.
Educating our friends and family on how to speak kindly to our bodies can have a massive impact on their lives and future generations. Remember, children learn about body confidence from their parents. Pay it forwards and give other’s the gift of being at ease with themselves.