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4 ways to cope with family members who might be body shaming you

Published on:26 December 2020, 15:30pm IST
If you’ve been at the centre of scathing body shaming remarks from a parent or relative, then here’s what you need to do to cope with it.
Geetika Sachdev
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Speak to your family about how body shaming is affecting you. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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There have been so many times when we’ve come across relatives, either at a wedding or otherwise, who scrutinise you, and sneakily say: ‘you’ve gained so much weight!”. And if you thought only relatives have the right to body shame you, then you are wrong. If you live in an Indian household, you are bound to come across horrid statements, often made by your own parents. ‘KItni moti ho gayi hai’ or ‘kuch khaati kyu nahi? (because thin shaming happens too!). All in all, body shaming in our homes is mean and overt. 

We aren’t saying that your family isn’t concerned about you. It’s quite possible that their remarks are well-intentioned, but whatever said and done, it’s not okay to say all this! For one, weight and size really do not indicate if you are healthy or not. Secondly, these comments are hurtful, and could really cause damage to your mental health. 

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So, what can you do if your family body shames you? Our guide is sure to help you out.

1. Reflect on what they’ve said

No, we do not mean you need to think about all those mean comments, but it’s important to analyse the other things around it. For instance, if it’s your mother or sister doing this, try and evaluate how it makes you feel, or how important is your relationship with them? Also, what are you willing to invest in, so that your relationship becomes different? A lot of times, people do not even think of what their relationship with their parents, or siblings should look like. Remember you get to choose your relationships, and work on the dynamics.

body shaming
Loving your body is always the right move. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
2. Have an honest conversation

If it’s someone who is really close to you, then make sure you have an honest conversation with them. That’s because if you don’t, you will only be filled with resentment, and eventually, that’s going to affect your relationship with them. Experts suggest a technique called assertive communication to handle the situation. First, you state exactly what happened, say it as it is, without being judgmental or emotional. Then state how the comment made you feel, and lastly, spelling out what you really need from that person.

3. If the conversation doesn’t go well, maintain your boundaries

If you’ve already spoken about your problem, and yet, you do not see any difference in their behaviour, then it’s important to maintain your boundaries. And in case they continue to flout those boundaries time and again, it’s fine if you do not give them a chance. At that point, it’s absolutely fine to take a firmer and less vulnerable stance.

body shaming
Don’t get affected by what others say. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
4. Sometimes, a little space helps too

You should be able to have the ability to say that I love this person, but they are toxic for me. It doesn’t mean you have to be rude with them, or pull away completely, but you can take certain steps to limit your interaction. It really is a difficult decision, but it is important for your mental peace.

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Geetika Sachdev Geetika Sachdev

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town.