I have had my fill of fashion posts for a while so it’s going to be a body positive fest this week on the blog.
I follow a lot of inspirational plus size lasses on social media. Naturally, they have their fair share of body shamers picking on their size or lifestyle choices. I have my fair share of this as well!
Concern Trolls are the sort of shamers who use health and fitness as a veil for what they’re actually trying to say. You’ll usually hear them say :
“I think it’s great that you love your body and all but you should consider losing weight to lead a healthier life.”
“I don’t see how you can love your body. Do me a favor and lose weight”
Sometimes they also say:
“I think it is unhealthy for you to think that this size is good for you. Your friends obviously don’t care enough to say anything to you”
“How can you stand being that size?
Your loved ones don’t care about you.”
Then you get the nastier trolls.
I call them the Tough Love Trolls because they remind me of those fitness instructors on The Biggest Loser – They think if they beat a person down enough, then there is a chance she/he will take the bait and lose the weight.
“Lose weight fattie”
“How is this even attractive?”
“Stop eating so much and get your ass to the gym”
Literal translation not necessary.
Some people might even play good cop/bad cop, by alternating between both kinds of trolling.
I have an issue with these people trying to put others in their place. Because frankly, it is not their business to do so.
Our Bodies Are Not Public Property but when we are not of acceptable size, people assume that they have a right to say something.
All those remarks above?
I’ve heard them. I’ve heard really silly ones, really hurtful ones and really confusing ones. And I know nobody is safe from the menace that is Body Shaming.
So what do we do? How do we fight back? Should we even fight back?
One thing I know for sure about this thing called Life is that you cannot possibly please everyone. I think pleasing people is an innate human trait. As infants, we turn to our caregivers for reassurance. They’d give us the go ahead and so we waddled around doing our thing. If they didn’t give us permission, we were punished or scolded for rebelling.
In this case, consider Society as the Self-Appointed Caregiver. We did not give them that role but they feel compelled to instil a certain order. If you swim against the tide, you are treated with mistrust and scorn. Because society feels responsible over the way things should be run, our bodies are deemed public as well. It has become okay to trash-talk about a celebrity’s extreme weight loss or weight gain, it has become okay to throw slimming centres down our throats, it has become okay for a pamphlet giver of slimming centres to scrutinise people based on their bodies and hand the targeted demographic pamphlets to help them “freeze their fats”.
It’s Not Okay.
A plus sized girl could have been having a really bad day at school because her classmates jeered at her size during physical activity class. All she wanted to do was take a shortcut through the mall and head back home, into the comfort of her room where she was safe from harm. But she gets a pamphlet from this stranger who says that she/he means well. The girl’s cheeks turn red and she speeds up her walk back home. She enters the house and her mother tells her she would not be so exhausted to walk from school if she watched her weight. She runs to her room and changes her clothes. She turns on the computer to log on to her Facebook wall to see what she has missed out on in the virtual world. She sees that a popular schoolmate replied to a compliment she gave her about her new shoes. She reads the comment – “Didn’t ask for your opinion Fattie”. And worse still, others joined in and there was a whole thread of sneers and jibes. She turns the computer off and doesn’t know how she’s going to face them in school the next day.
and then she says “I’d rather die than be Fat”.
This girl didn’t ask for the attention.
She didn’t cause anybody grievous harm. She ate well, she was fit and had good grades. But she couldn’t see all that she was worth because of a label.
Do you know what I am learning about body shaming?
That you have got to take the power of those malicious words away. Be rational about it and realise that these people don’t know who you are, what your life journey has been like, how far you have come. All they see is an image of you that is distorted.
Haters are often the ones who hurt the most. That doesn’t mean that we condone what has been said or done.
What we can do is take away the power of those words and actions, see them for what they really are – empty echoes of what they have been fed by society’s distorted views. These are not even their words. They are empty, baseless words. Glass that can shatter and not hurt you because the glass is an illusion.
The perfect body is a myth.
The perfect body is an illusion.
A healthy person is not viewed skin deep. A healthy individual is not The Biggest Loser.
Be it as it may that millions of people around us are jumping onto the next fitness or diet fad. Be it as it may that they lose 10, 20, 30 pounds and can fit into straight sized clothes. They still have to face their inner demons and those demons don’t go away as quickly as the numbers on the scale.
Your challenge, my dear friend is to live a life most authentic to yourself and then face the reflection in the mirror with no hate or sadness toward what looks back at you.
Because Dying is easy.
Living to tell your story is the tough and yet rewarding bit.
I should know.
I was that girl who ran back home.