3 Ways to Deal with the Fat & Body Shamers in Your Family Right Now!

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Most of you reading this right now have been body-shamed at some point in your life. It was likely a relative who first made you feel like shit about your body. The first person who body-shamed me was my father. At age 14, standing 5′-7″ tall and weighing 145 pounds, he thought I needed to go on a diet. And it hurt like hell.

I don’t think most of our family members intend to hurt us with their opinions, but it stings like a motherfucker anyway. And unless you have the unusually high self-esteem of say, Donald Trump, it’s likely to leave an impression on you. In my case, the impression was felt for the better part of 20 years.

Up until the last few years, any comments about my weight from my family cut me deeply. I didn’t understand why my body needed policing, regardless of whether it was thin or fat. I just wanted to be left alone — to just be in my body without having to account for my worth based on its size.

We wrongly believe that pointing out so-called imperfections and flaws in others will somehow distract from our own shortcomings. But that’s a lie. The only thing it does is magnify our assholeness.

Today, I am mostly free from the abuse of body-shaming from my family. But it took learning some lessons before I could stand up for myself and realize that I had a lot more control over the situation than I realized. Here are three ways that I’ve found helpful to get through the pain of body-shaming from relatives and friends:

1

I know it seems counter intuitive, but having compassion for your body-shamer is very healing. It’s not about you. It’s about them. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s the damn truth. After having observed the way my parents had fat-shamed me and others over the years, it occurred to me that they had their own set of insecurities which plagued them. Their insults were just a reflexive response to hating some part about themselves. We’ve all read stories about how a bully was once the object of a bullier. Well, same idea here.

We are exposed to so much pain and judgement in this world. None of us are free from it. We wrongly believe that pointing out so-called imperfections and flaws in others will somehow distract from our own shortcomings. But that’s a lie. The only thing it does is magnify our assholeness.  Yes, I just invented that word. You’re welcome.

When we realize that negative comments are really reflections of how others feel about themselves, it easier to forgive and let go. Don’t get me wrong. It takes a lot of practice. But it does work.

*Side note: they do still fat shame other people, but I call it out when they do it every time!

2

Please stop expecting other people to change. You can’t. You can only change yourself. Once I decided that I was done with dieting and that I was comfortable with the way I looked, the comments completely stopped. I literally stood with my head held high. I wore what wanted and ate whatever I wanted in front of whoever was there. I am still in awe of how powerful self-love is. When we stop giving away our power, life is so much better.

12-Step programs and therapy  were instrumental in helping me to get to this point. For so long I hoped my parents would change their tune and simply stop commenting on my body. But this misguided hope was the very definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. Probably not gonna happen in this lifetime. So stop. Right now! Stop it!!!

Instead, I want you to focus on finding ways to love your body more. If you’re reading this, chances are you are on social media and have access to a myriad of resources that DO celebrate your body. Just search for hashtags like #iamenough#bodypositive, and #effyourbeautystandards,  to fill your feed with inspiring images. It really does work!

3Be willing to create boundaries. You have the right to choose not to be around people who make you feel bad about yourself. And you also don’t need to explain your decision. Self-care and self-preservation are your God(ess) given right. So claim it!

You can still love your family and choose not to be around them. They might not understand. They might get angry. But would you rather be angry, or let them be angry? I know what I would do. And if they do confront you about your absence, it’s okay to tell the truth. Again, they may not get it. In fact, they may get defensive (my family certainly does) Simply go back to tips #1 and #2: have compassion and don’t expect them to behave differently.

And then get the hell out! LOL

Look, I don’t have all the answers. All I can do is share what has worked for me. I hope these tips are useful and that you find more ways to release yourself from the grip of the body-shamers in your life. Until then, I wish you self-love and light!

xo

 

 

How the Body Positive Movement Unintentionally Shames People Who Choose to Lose Weight

I began my journey to body positivity (BP) and self-acceptance almost six years ago. It’s been a wild ride, with lots of bumps and bruises. But mostly it’s been an amazing experience resulting in the formation of a wonderful community of advocates and friends. And I’m proud to say that I’ve allowed my views to change and grow as I’ve learned more about inclusivity and the importance of hearing one another with an open heart and mind.

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Admittedly, I’ve also witnessed and been a part of shaming people in the BP community who openly express their desire to lose weight. The pervading thought seems to be that BP folks who want to lose weight are inherently self-hating and thus negate all the strides the movement has made to be seen and heard. That, and we tend to internalize the choices of others as an attack on us. I get that the space we’ve created is so special and hard-won, that we’ve become very protective of it. But we must remember that this movement is based on the idea that ALL bodies are GOOD bodies. The BP movement is about learning to love and accept our bodies and those of others without judgment. So, if we shun people who make a personal decision to lose weight (for whatever reason), then we are hypocrites. Me included.

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I know plenty of women who have learned to love themselves because of the movement, and still want to lose weight and do what feels right for their bodies — and it’s OK!  I’m a firm believer in health being something you define for yourself. As I’ve said before, there are people who are fat and healthy, and fat and unhealthy. The same goes for thin people. So if you are fat (or thin), and you don’t feel good in your body, then do whatever you need to do to feel good. Don’t let anyone, not even the BP movement, shame you into staying where you don’t want to be. By the same token, abstain from judging those folks who choose not to lose weight.

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I’m bringing this divisive topic up because I’ve had conversations with many women in the movement who are expressing a desire to lose weight for their own personal reasons, but feel afraid to share it for fear of banishment from a movement that purports to be inclusive.

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Let me remind you that people have all sorts of reasons for why they want to lose weight, and frankly, it’s their business. Hell, I’m thinking about losing weight because my plantar fascitis is getting increasingly worse (I’ve tried everything, including orthotics and special shoes, but to no avail). And 30 pounds ago, I didn’t experience this problem (for someone who loves to dance, it’s a real bummer). Let me also say that at my current weight I can do yoga,  have great cholesterol levels, and my blood pressure is normal. So yes, I have health in many areas, but not in others (my feet hurt!!!). And I want to feel fully vibrant: physically, mentally, and spiritually. It’s my God-given right, and it’s no ones’ business but my own.

Side note: For those of you who do want to lose weight, I hope you’ll do it sanely and healthily.

My ultimate desire is that the body-positivity movement embrace all forms of self-love and wellness. It may look different for each of us, but at the end of the day, all most of us really want is to feel our best and to be accepted without fear of judgement. Your thin body is no better than mine. My fat body is not more worthy than yours. And my desire to lose a few pounds so I can dance without achy feet is no reflection of your personal choices.

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Being inclusive can only strengthen our cause. So, can we just open our hearts and mind a little more and make space for everyone to feel supported and seen? I sure hope so.

xo

Things You Should Know and Other Stuff, Too

I’ve read some really good articles this week and thought I’d share with you those really resonated with me. As always, I want to hear your thoughts!

Catching Up With Gloria Lucas and Nalgona Positivity Pride    By NATALIE MISCOLTA-CAMERON

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Nalgona Positivity Pride is a community-based effort to increase body positivity in the Xicana/Brown*/Indigenous community. Started in Los Angeles in 2014 by Gloria Lucas, the organization relies on community outreach, support groups, social media, and even an Etsy store to spread its message.

I recently sat down with Gloria for a Q&A to find out more about NPP and the person behind it.

You’re personally recovering from an eating disorder. Can you talk a little bit about this?

I recall secretly hiding food, sneaking to the kitchen in the middle of the night and overeating as young as 11 years old. I started inducing purging in my late teens.

It took me some time to find out why I had an eating disorder (ED). Most of the current information that explains the causes of eating disorders never mentioned racism and classism, so I didn’t feel like those theories didn’t quite fit me. It was not until I read up on historical trauma that I realized that my unhealthy relationship with food is a deeper issue caused by colonialism, poverty, systemic racism, and cultural sexism. Historical trauma is a theory by Dr. Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart which explains trauma as a transgenerational occurrence. In other words… READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

 


Gabourey Sidibe Has the perfect Response to Love Scene Fat-Shamers      By ZEBA BLAY

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 05: Actress Gabourey Sidibe attends the Screen Actors Guild Foundation 30th Anniversary Celebration at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on November 5, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

On Wednesday night, the writers of “Empire” made a bold move when they included a scene of Gabourey Sidibe’s character Becky having sex with her boyfriend, MC J Poppa. The scene was refreshing because it reminded us that, yes, fat women like and have sex, and it shouldn’t be a big deal.

Unfortunately, the scene generated a few mean-spirited memes fat-shaming the actress. But, like the queen she is, the 32-year-old actress isn’t bothered.

In a blog post for EW published on Thursday, Sidibe wrote: “I, a plus sized, dark-skinned woman, had a love scene on primetime television. I had the most fun ever filming that scene even though I was nervous. But I felt sexy and beautiful and I felt like…” READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

 


Looking Back: Our Fave Ashley Nell Tipton Instagram Moments Before Project Runway     By MARCY CRUZ

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Project Runway Season 14 winner Ashley Nell Tipton may be new to the mainstream fashion industry with her appearance on the show but to the plus size community, she is already well known as an amazing designer who creates clothing for women in sizes 1X to 6X. While many plus size designers only stop at a 3X, Ashley is one of those designers who truly embraces women of all sizes.

Many of us have loved Ashley before Project Runway and it is exciting to see her progress on the show and in her career. In honor of her win, we took a look back and here’s our favorite Instagram moments from… READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.


I hope you enjoyed my picks. I really wanted to highlight all the awesome things that fat women everywhere are doing. They are healing, they are thriving, they are succeeding!

xo

I Hold My Stomach in Sometimes

Am I body love failure? No.

What I am is brainwashed from years of exposure to advertisements that promise a flat stomach in 10 days. It is so ingrained in my subconscious that I often hold my stomach in without realizing it.

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I HATE these ads!!!

Today, as I walked back to my office from my lunch break, I caught a glimpse of myself in a storefront window and noticed the top roll of my stomach protruding under my t-shirt. Suddenly I stood up straighter and did my best to tuck in my tummy. In that moment I was aware of my embarrassment about my by body being so big and so exposed. And then I was embarrassed that I was embarrassed, because duh, I’m a body-positive activist!

I think about this shit all day — what Melinda Alexander calls “Getting Free.” So, when stuff like the tummy incident happens I feel like I’ve been set way back. It feels like being punched in the face after having trained in the ring for years.

The truth is, I have not come to terms with the size and shape of my stomach. It’s the biggest it’s ever been. For the most part, I almost always had a pretty small waist and stomach, giving me an hourglass figure that made my body acceptable by mainstream standards. But not anymore. It’s big enough that I just can’t hide it, or disguise it, or manipulate it. And though I’ve made peace with many of my body parts, this one is especially hard for me.

Pia model

This is me 3.5 years and 45 pounds ago.

Anyone feel me?

I know so many fat women who own their big bellies and wear clothes that accentuate them. I am not one of those women. Part of me wants to be at peace, and the other part of me just wants to have a small tummy again so I don’t have to overcome another hurdle.

The reason I share this with you is because I promised myself I would be honest and upfront about my own body image struggles. My friend Jen at Plus Size Birth just posted something I resonate with on this topic too.

Thank you for seeing me and accepting me the way I see and accept you.

Perhaps I need a pair of high waisted Spanx.

Or an affirmation…

Or to surround myself with images of large bellied women reveling in their gorgeous glory…

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Photo by Substantia Jones

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Photo by Substantia Jones

Or maybe some combination of all those ideas until I start feeling better.

xo

3 Surprising Ways to Fight Fat Shaming

Fighting fat shaming can be tough in a society that worships thinness and thinks fat is a four-letter word. But there are ways to make change if you’re willing to try these surprising tactics.

1

Start by accepting yourself. I think it’s impossible to fight against the current culture if you hate yourself. When you believe in the false stereotypes that fat people are lazy, ugly, stupid, and unworthy, how can you possibly have the strength to challenge the powers that be? You can’t. Plain and simple. Until you are at least on the road to self-acceptance, it may be difficult to demand respect. You’ve got to believe that you deserve more, and that your worth is inherent in your humanity. Once you start seeing yourself in a more positive light, then you can begin to question and fight against our society’s twisted ideas of what is acceptable.

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Wicked confidence!

2

Be conscious of advertisements and media that ridicule fat people. This is pretty fucking easy, given that our culture is obsessed with  before and after pictures to fool you into thinking that losing weight will be the answer to all of life’s problems. I hate to break it to you, but fat and thin people alike have problems and challenges that have absolutely nothing to do with the size of their jeans. I know because I’ve been thin and fat many times in my life, and I can assure you that I dealt with the same life circumstances in both bodies. So, when you see advertisements or TV shows that make fun of fat folks, get to work letting them know you are displeased. Write letters and tell anyone who will listen (that’s the power of social media, people) about the discrimination that’s happening right under their oblivious noses. The very act of dissent, regardless of the outcome, is empowering and will inevitably start a dialogue about why we allow this type of blatant oppression to thrive. It’s time to take a stand!

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Fat shaming at its worst. Shame on you PETA.

3

Literally wear your opinions. With a growing social movement toward fat-acceptance, the trend of wearing clothes that challenge people’s perceptions of fat people is ripe and ready for harvest. Whether you decide to wear a crop top to show off your ample belly, or a bodycon dress that hugs your every roll, fashion is an amazing political weapon against fat discrimination. The days of oversized clothes that were meant to make others more comfortable with our large bodies is OVER! Fatshion conveys a lot about how you feel without ever having to utter a word. Changing perceptions can be tough. But the more of us who  unapologetically wear tank tops in the summer that show off our generous arms, the less taboo we make it for other fat folks to do the same. And ultimately, we force the culture to see us, accept us, and respect us.

 

diet industry dropout

xo