Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Hannah Fuhlendorf M.A, LPC
10 Ways To Heal From Fat Shaming Experiences With Family
Published Jun 14th, 2021 & updated on Jun 14th, 2021
People can be super harsh sometimes! And it’s especially hard to hear someone from your family fat shaming you. What the heck happened to unconditional love and support?! They may try to justify their rude behaviour by saying they just want you to “eat better” and “be healthy,” but this is called concern trolling and it’s almost always less about you and more about them projecting their fatphobia onto you.
There are SO many non-food-related factors that can lead to larger bodies, like genetics, medical conditions, certain medications, and a lot more. And, medical professionals are now seeing the pitfalls and harms of focusing on weight loss as a medical intervention and have begun to focus on health-promoting behaviours and evidence-based medicine for patients of every size.
Dissecting Weight Stigma
Society and popular media have perpetuated this “perfect ideal” of thinness, and when someone doesn’t match that EXACT image they get shamed for it! Totally uncool, right? Weight stigma is a type of discrimination aimed at a person’s weight, using fat shaming and concern trolling to maintain the status quo. And, according to the National Eating Disorders Association, weight discrimination even happens more often than age and gender discrimination!
Fat shaming happens at work, at school, in public, at doctors’ offices, or in the home — and alllll of it causes intense psychological damage, ranging from poor body image to depression to anxiety to eating disorders and more.
Healing From Fat Shaming
It can be suuuper hard to heal from these kinds of wounds, especially when they’re coming from family members who are supposed to accept you no matter what. So, we’ve got 10 tips to help you embrace fat acceptance and hopefully kick that fat shaming to the curb!
1. Speak Up When You’re Uncomfortable
Tip number 1 is arguably a lot easier said than done! But it’s a BIG step in taking charge of your body and not accepting the shitty things people say to you. As soon as someone mentions your size or asks about something you’re eating, make it known that it’s not okay!!! Their opinion is not welcome and you don’t have to take it. Speak up when you’re uncomfy and put ‘em in their place, babe!
2. Set Boundaries
Alright, going off of tip 1, actively voicing your boundaries ahead of time or following a fatphobic incident is sooooo important (or else your family might just keep stomping all over them). So, if someone is doing or saying something that is harmful to you — and the right words aren’t at the tip of your tongue — here are some examples you can customize to whatever situation you’re in!
“I would like it if we didn’t talk about weight when we’re together. It makes me uncomfortable.”
“Negative body language is not something I’m okay with. Let’s talk about something else.”
“I’m not up for any kind of dieting or weight loss discussions.”
“My body/fashion choices/eating habits are not up for discussion.”
3. Talk To Someone You Trust
Talking through your feelings with someone you trust, and someone you know accepts you no matter what, can feel like a HUGE weight lifted off your shoulders! It’s so relieving to have a person validate what you’re going through because your family likely never even acknowledges that what they’ve done is wrong. So, find a close friend, coworker, or sibling who won’t judge you and vent away baby!
4. Be Kind To Your Body
Being kind to your body can apply to all kinds of things! Just make sure you’re taking it easy on yourself and giving your body what it needs, when it needs it. Maybe that’s intuitive eating, where you eat when you’re hungry and stop eating when you’re full. Or, maybe that means joyful movement, not because you’re trying to lose weight but because it FEELS GOOD! Or, ridding your closet of any clothing that doesn’t currently fit you and is uncomfortable to wear (plus, you don’t need that constant reminder of the “goal weight” outfit you’ve yet to fit — trust us, we’ve been there). Finally cut ties with that “friend” who always makes remarks about your bod. Compassionately listen to what your body wants, rather than hurting it to fit some impossible “ideal image.”
5. Use Affirmations
Sometimes you just gotta look in a mirror and tell yourself how much you respect and appreciate your body! Trust us, it works! Daily affirmations can really help you break the cycle of self-deprecation that your family may have ingrained in you. They change those negative thought patterns into positive ones, boost your self-confidence, and turn your subconscious towards newer (and healthier) beliefs! Give it a try and say these with us:
“I accept my body as it is today.”
“My weight doesn’t define my worth.”
“I’m grateful that my body is strong and capable.”
“I will not give power to other people’s opinions on my body.”
6. Do Things That Make You Feel Good
Back to being kind to your body…you should only do what makes you feel good! ‘Cause suffering through a workout if that isn’t what you want to do will NOT make you feel good and will likely only make you averse to physical movement in the long run. If a high-intensity workout IS what you enjoy, then all the power to you! But maybe your thing is going for a nice long walk around the block, or going for a swim, or having a dance party in your bedroom because you love a good tune. Whatever activity (or lack thereof) that vibes with your body most is what you should be doing, regardless of what anyone else thinks is “healthiest” for you *insert eye roll here.*
7. Wear Things That Make You Feel Good
We’ve all tried to fit into something that we find super cute, but it doesn’t end up being very comfortable and we don’t feel good because of it! Try to find clothes that fill you well, are comfy af, and maybe even still accentuate those bomb curves, and you’ll feel sooo much better while wearing them. Looking cute WHILE being comfortable? It’s the best of both worlds! And it’ll help you focus on the other things going on in your life, rather than constantly fidgeting in clothes that don’t feel good.
8. Curate Your Social Media
Social media is where a lot of us spend a big chunk of our time and it can be one hell of a place. So, if you see some toxic positivity on your feed that you’re just NOT vibing with because you’re on a different journey, unfollow those people! Follow plus-size creators and activists who make you feel seen and empowered. And if it’s important to you, there are accounts that focus on physical movement and gentle nutrition while throwing diet culture out the fucking window. Turn your social media feeds into somewhere you WANT to be — where you feel GOOD about yourself — ‘cause that’s how it should be!
9. Find Role Models
When we say role models, we mean folks who EMBODY self-acceptance — like Lizzo! She embraces alllll of herself and wants you to as well. ‘Cause you DO look “good as hell” baby! You can also follow some fat liberation influencers who educate the heck out of people on Instagram, like @yrfatfriend and @bodyposipanda. Finding role models who set a good example of how to live a full and meaningful life outside of diet culture can teach us that there are many paths to happiness and self-acceptance without the pressure to change our bodies or shrink ourselves.
10. Get Involved In Activism
Our last tip is to get involved in activism yourself, and teach others about the realities of fatphobia and weight stigma! There is a whole fat liberation movement giving voice to the most marginalized of folks. As well as body neutrality — which is all about valuing what your body DOES for you rather than how it looks while doing it. Getting involved in movements like these can help change the cultural landscape so that there is less fatphobia for us to heal from in the first place. Activism can also help you feel SO empowered and in charge of your body, and you 1000% deserve to love the skin you’re in and have full agency over your own body.
If you’ve ever experienced fat shaming or body shaming by people who should have your best interests in mind, we hope these 10 tips will help you start to heal from that trauma. Because you should be able to feel comfortable and loved in all of your relationships at any size! WE love you and have got your back!