So you’re having a day where you feel good, and then it happens…
Somebody–a family member, a friend, or even a stranger–makes a comment about the way you look. Only it feels more like a stinging judgment than just offhand words.
This is what happens when body-shaming bullies show up in your life. They make a few nasty comments, and just like that, you’re embarrassed, ashamed, and full of self-doubt.
They can make you believe that no matter what you try, you’ll never look like that Instagram model or that CrossFit champion.
They can trigger that fear that despite all the restrictive dieting and punishing workouts you’ve attempted, you still may not be to exactly where you want to be.
Even in the wake of the body positivity movement, cutting other people down for not meeting impossible beauty standards is alive and well. Especially in this age of Social Media perfectionism.
Why am I bringing this up? Because I believe that everyone deserves to feel good about themselves. And nobody deserves to be attacked for how they look.
Honestly, I feel that dealing with body shamers is even harder than managing a food struggle.
After all, food-based battles stem directly from body hate and self-rejection in the first place. So we’re talking struggle on top of struggle.
Hitting back at the haters only drags you into the battle. But if you bottle up the pain and go for the emotional shutdown, eventually you might start believing that the bullies are right.
So what do you do when body shamers try to knock you or someone you know down?
Stay with me, and I’ll show you five ways to defuse body shaming bullies for good. And without falling into self-destructive anger, plotting revenge against the trolls, and most of all–without believing what the haters say.
Step 1: Consider the source (and with compassion). Let’s be real. When someone calls you out, it straight-up hurts. That’s just a part of being human.
When I’m triggered by someone else’s words, the first thing I notice, of course, is how it makes me feel. But after the initial sting wears off, it makes me wonder what’s really going on with the other person.
After all, when other people are vicious, there’s usually a reason. And nine times out of 10, that reason is not you.
The truth is that hurt people hurt people. So if someone feels the need to attack, ask yourself this: what is going on in that person’s life that would make them want to hit someone where they live?
Maybe that person has dealt with body critiques their whole life. And seeing their own struggles in someone else makes them snap like a rubber band.
Then again, that person might have a limited perspective (and a lot of judgment) about food, body weight, and appearance for no apparent reason.
Or this person might just be straight-up clueless about human dynamics, psychology, and compassion–and might not even realize what they’re saying.
Whatever the reason, the key to freedom from other people’s judgments is–believe it or not– having a little bit of compassion for the other person.
I know that doesn’t seem fair. Why should you bother to find empathy for someone who is making a sport of your pain?
But remember this–in the end, what other people say about you isn’t about you at all. It’s about them. When you can accept this, it gets easier to feel empathy for the person who is
operating from a place of disconnection.
And when you learn to take what they say with a grain of salt and a lot of compassion, there’s even more in it for you than you might realize…
Believe it or not, feeling even a bit of compassion for haters actually takes the sting out of their insults. It takes the emotional charge out of their words. And it helps you respond from a place of power, not fear.
You’re a lot less likely to flee, shut down, or hit back, which ultimately puts the ball back in your court. And from there, you can choose to end the insult match altogether.
Step 2: Give yourself that same compassion. Now that you’ve shown empathy for the other person, it’s time to do the same for yourself. Let’s talk about why this is so powerful.
Suppose that someone’s body-shaming blast hits a nerve, and you’re struggling to figure out why. Here’s a possible explanation that you might not have entertained before…
What if this person isn’t necessarily “making” you feel bad? What if they’re just touching on the pain that is already there?
It’s what I call the “double-sided mirror.” People tend to mirror back to you what exists within you. And sometimes, they show you things that you’d rather not see.
The idea that your self-worth depends on what the scale says is a sore spot for a lot of women, and one that many of us keep buried pretty deeply.
But when a body-shamer puts up that mirror in front of you, you might see someone who secretly believes she’s an unworthy because her looks don’t measure up.
That’s not easy to acknowledge, is it?
But instead of hiding from those painful triggers, I suggest a different approach. Allow yourself to be with those feelings. Just feel how you feel, and without judging yourself. Give yourself that same compassion as you gave the hater.
Reassure that part of yourself that you’re worth it no matter what.
Let’s go even deeper into this in Step 3…
Step 3: Support yourself. When you’re feeling that body-shaming heat, start by remembering that no matter what, you are amazing. You are worthy of all that you desire right NOW. And what the scale, the mirror, or another person says will not change that.
Allow the empowered, adult version of yourself communicate with the part of you who needs a little love, compassion, and support.
Ask her what she needs to feel loved, supported, and worthy again. And make sure that she knows that she’s always loved, and she’s going to be OK.
Step 4: Set boundaries. Now let’s talk about what happens when you’re dealing with body image negativity in your own inner circle.
Sometimes our closest friends and family members deliver some of the most triggering barbs, especially on sensitive subjects. And if the biggest body-shamer in your life is part of your immediate family, it can make your life potentially explosive.
But it also makes personal boundaries that much more important.
So be as honest as you can with the people you love. Let your friends and family know what conversation topics are OK and which are off-limits for you.
For example, if it pushes your buttons to hear family members talk about dieting or critique women for how they look, say so. Be clear on the topics you’re willing to pursue, and the things on which you’d rather “agree to disagree.”
The people who want to be in your life will adjust to your rules. And if they don’t, then it’s a good idea to give yourself some space and distance anyway. Toxic, judgmental energy doesn’t deserve any space in anyone’s life.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to cut people out of your life altogether. But you do need to let people know what you won’t tolerate. And you can do that without showing someone the door.
For example, if a sensitive topic comes up, don’t bite on the comment. Have a go-to one-liner ready, and politely excuse yourself from the conversation. It’ll help you graciously exit the scene without making a scene.
So have a plan, talk to the people in your life, and be clear on your personal boundaries. It’ll be a big-time sanity saver in the long run.
Step 5: Take back your Social Media Space. Once you’ve reclaimed your space with your family and friends, it’s time to draw up some boundaries in your online space. That means taking back control of your Social Media feeds.
The best thing about social media is that you decide what you want to see. So if your Instagram feed feels like a parade of impossible standards, use that “unfollow” button early and often.
Follow things that lift you up rather than drag you down. If something you’re following triggers you into a downward spiral of comparison, “unlike” it right now.
You owe it to yourself to fill your space–both online and offline–with love, support, and encouragement. So draw the line on your social media feeds just as you would with your family and friends.
Bottom line? Maybe you can’t control what other people say, but you can control how you respond to it. You also have a say as to what you allow into your life, online and off.
So find compassion for both yourself and others. Remember that what body shaming bullies say is about them, not you.
And of course, remember that you are worthy of health, happiness, and a positive body image right now. And nobody can take that away from you!
Not that this is always easy to remember, of course. Sometimes it takes a little practice, especially when it comes to new boundaries with people you’ve known for a long time.
So don’t be discouraged if haters and body shamers still get to you once in awhile. It happens to all of us at some point. And if you’re looking for some support to get you through the rough spots, I have something to help you!
I’ve created a training to help you break the shame cycle with your body and your food–and to the point where eventually, the haters won’t faze you at all.
Imagine being free to create a life that is free not only from body struggles, but from the thoughtless judgments of body-shaming bullies. You can do it, and I can help!
Click below to have that training delivered to your inbox today!
Body-shaming bullies don’t deserve your time. And I am here to help you free yourself from their judgments once and for all!
So in the comments below, let me know how I can help you set boundaries, heal yourself, and take your power back from body shamers once and for all!
Welcome to BeatingBingeEating.com! I’m Brittany Brown.
My goal is to transform the health and happiness of the world, starting with you. You were not put on this earth to struggle. I’m here to show you how to finally feel at home in your body and end your struggle with food and your body for good. This mission was born out of my own passion-driven breakdown. Here’s my story...Read More
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