How to Respond to Body Shaming | Here's What to Say when Someone Body-shames You
Body Shaming involves humiliating and criticizing others for their body size or shape. Body shaming is normally done in overt manners, such as commenting negatively on someone’s appearance or by inserting sarcastic and unwanted opinions such as “do you eat anything at all?” “you should eat more/less," and “you would look much better if you put on/lose weight."
Being body shamed often leads to serious eating disorders and poor mental health. In order to block out the unsolicited negativity coming from others and comments that make you feel ashamed of your body, setting boundaries is one of the first steps to take. In this blog, we are going to discuss the various ways to stand up to bodyshamers, and how to respond to those who intentionally or unintentionally shame you for your physical appearance.
If you would like to watch the video where I talk about ways to deal with body shaming, please click here.
A little background story about myself is that I get body-shamed every day, by my family, friends, coworkers, strangers, internet trolls, or even romantic partners. Somehow, people always feel the need to give me opinions and advice on how I should look. People tell me that I'm too skinny, too boney, too underweight, that my chest is too small, my butt is too flat, and I NEED TO eat more in order to gain weight at the "right places" to look better. I understand the hurt from the comments, and the detrimental impact from constantly being body shamed. It is especially hard when it comes from your family members and friends who unknowingly or unintentionally shame you and hurt you in the process.
When I was younger and insecure, I used to put up with all the body-shaming comments and thought nothing can be done to make it stop. But I was wrong. I have realized there are always ways to stand up for yourself. Although I struggled at first to find the right things to say when it comes to body shaming, I have finally navigated my way around bodyshamers and know exactly what to say to stand up for myself.
While acknowledging that body shaming is not tolerable, I have gained a lot of confidence and learned to set better BOUNDARIES with people in my life. If anyone happens to make inconsiderate/disrespectful/body-shaming comments and remarks about my appearance, I always handle it with confidence and let them know that body shaming is NOT okay and that I won’t allow it. It is essential that you do the same for yourself. Stand up to the hurtful comments and let people know what they are saying is wrong. Respect yourself enough to not allow others to degrade you without any consequences. It all comes down to BOUNDARIES and RESPECT.
We are going to dive into the different responses I use for 6 different bodyshamer groups.
A general response that works well in all situations:
“I know that I am … but I like it.”
Confidence is key when it comes to dealing with bodyshamers. They tend to degrade you by making inappropriate remarks about your physical appearance. By saying “I know that I am … but I like it.”, it indicates that you are confident in your skin and other people’s unwanted opinions simply won’t affect you.
Such as grandparents, parents,
siblings, uncles, aunts, or any type of relatives who are concerned enough to give you advice to gain weight or to eat less or to change this and change that about your face or your body, tell them this:
"Thank you for your input, but I am happy with my body the way it is.”
"Thank you for your input, Dad, but I'm happy with my body the way it is."
"Thank you, Mom, for your input, but I'm happy with my body the way it is."
"Thank you, Auntie, for your input, but I'm happy with my body the way it is."
I know that sometimes friends can get into the habit of trashing each other as a form of endearment. They may think that they're joking around and offend you without realizing it. Nonetheless, it still hurts, especially when body shaming comes from our loved ones. So, how to deal with body-shaming friends? You can say this:
"Look, I know you don't intend to be mean, but I'm trying to steer clear from body-related negativity these days."
"I know you're not trying to be malicious, but you're my friend, so I will be honest with you - I don't like it when you joke like that."
The third group of bodyshamers that I want to mention is people who you don't really know that well. It can be your colleagues, coworkers, or even strangers that feel entitled enough to comment on your body.
In these events, after they say something inappropriate and insulting, you can respond with
"Sorry, can you repeat that?”
*It's very important to do this with a straight face and look at them directly in the eyes.
When you force someone to repeat something offensive they said they usually reconsider and back off by saying "Oh, never mind. Forget about it." On the other hand, if they have the gut to repeat what they have just said with confidence and pretend like there's nothing wrong "Oh, I just said you need to gain weight because you look too skinny." Then you can reply with grace and confidence:
"Thank you for your input, but I'm happy with my body as it is."
"I know I'm skinny, but I like it."
This usually leaves them speechless knowing they have failed to humiliate you.
The fourth group of bodyshamers that I want to mention next is the professionals. They can be hairstylists, personal trainers, sales assistants, or any type of professionals that you come across in daily life who feel the need to give you “helpful” advice that you didn't ask for. You can simply say:
“I am not interested in …."
For example “I'm healthy and I am not interested in gaining/losing weight," "I'm not interested in having a boob job," or "I'm not interested in wearing that type of clothes."
5. Internet Trolls
Ignore, delete, and block.
Simple, any of those three would do!
If you notice that someone continually body shames you online, don’t be shy to block them. If it is one of your acquaintances or people that you don't know commenting negatively on your photo or your video, just ignore them. No need to reply, no need to argue, no need to acknowledge them.
6. Romanic Partners
The last group of bodyshamers is our partners, significant others, boyfriends, or girlfriends. I know that this might be the toughest one. It hurts the most when someone who body shames us is also the person who has seen us in intimate settings. In these events, you can set your boundaries clearly by saying:
"I'm going to let this one slide, but for future reference, I'm not really a fan of body shaming."
"I know that your intentions are not to be hurtful, but what you just said about my body/ appearance is body shaming, and I don’t appreciate it or allow it."
It is crucial to stand your ground and make them aware that body shaming is not tolerated, and this cannot and will not repeat in the future. If your partner is someone who's understanding, respectful, and loves you for who you are, which are all very important qualities in a partner, they will recognize their mistake and never repeat this behaviour that hurts you deeply.
So that's it, my beautiful. Thank you so much for reading this blog! If you enjoyed this blog and would like to learn more about how I deal with body insecurities and grow confidence please subscribe to my other channels by clicking here!
I love you so much, and YOU CAN DO THIS! Set boundaries and surround yourself with only positivity and love. At the end of the day, nothing people say defines your beauty or you as a human-being, you are perfect the way you are and remember to show your body lots of love and appreciation because it does so much for you than you realize.