Are You Body Shaming Your Friends?
Nearly everyone has experienced body shaming, and we all know it sucks. Unlearning the impulse to body shame ourselves and others takes conscious practice. While most of us would never intentionally direct body shame at our friends, there are ways we don’t even realize that we are perpetuating body shaming culture. Here are 6 ways you body shame your friends without even realizing it.
You can’t stop talking about your very restrictive diet.
Maybe you’re just excited about your new eating habits or your new healthy lifestyle kick, but don’t go off about how you’re avoiding sugar just as your friend is biting into a brownie. It’s fine to try new diets (as long as you’re being healthy about it) but watch how much you talk about it - it can sound like bragging or preaching, and worse it can make your friends feel self-conscious about their own eating habits. Celebrate your own positive choices, but make sure you’re not policing others!
You joke about people’s eating habits.
Even if you mean it as a lighthearted joke, commenting on what/how/how much someone eats can make them feel scrutinized and uncomfortable, and makes it seem like you have a better idea of what/how/how much your friend should be eating than they do.
You compliment your friend for losing weight.
Or you comment on your friend’s body period. Even a well-meaning comment like “omg you look so skinny!” or “damn lookin THICC!” can send someone into a spiral. You don’t know the circumstances behind someone’s weight loss (or weight gain). Period. You also don’t know every person’s history with eating disorders, and commenting on their body may be a trigger. Maybe your friend lost or gained weight in a totally healthy way. Maybe they dropped or gained a few pounds because they’re stressed. Either way, keep the body-related compliments to a minimum unless your friend has expressed reaching a weight loss or gain goal. (For non-body related compliments, see the Zine in our Launch Box!)
You avoid the word ‘fat.’
Say it with me - fat is NOT a bad word. Yes, “fat” has some negative connotations, but it is not a bad word, or a bad thing to be. Don’t tell your friend, “You’re not fat, you’re beautiful!” You might mean well, but being fat and being pretty are not opposites. You can be fat and beautiful. (Similarly, can we stop with “euphemisms” for fat? “Squishy” “fluffy” “big-boned” “full-figured.” Fat is not a bad or rude word to be avoided).
You called your fat friend ‘brave’ for wearing a two-piece.
Please don’t act like its daring and bold for someone to wear anything other that a dark shroud. If your friend (or a celebrity or someone on the street!) wears a string bikini or a crop top or cutoff shorts, just gas them up and leave it at that.
You body shame yourself in front of your friends.
As someone who has struggled with Body Dysmorphia and eating disorders my whole life, I am totally guilty of this. It’s easy to engage in self-body shaming, especially if you’re having an off day, or you feel insecure or vulnerable. Before you start tearing yourself down in front of your friends, remember that a) it’s unkind and unproductive to yourself, and b) your friends probably think you look bangin and hearing you dump all over yourself might trigger their own negative internal dialogue. It’s ok to acknowledge that you feel insecure, or down on yourself for a moment. But don’t let it be more than a moment, and try to keep the vicious self-hate talk to a minimum.