"There is NOTHING wrong with your body, but there is a lot wrong with the messages which try to convince you otherwise."- Rae Smith
Body image issues start unfortunately at a young age for women and usually, it starts with backhanded compliments from family members and then peers at school. Parents or family members usually think they are "helping" when they make comments about someone's body image. They remember maybe being teased and they just want perhaps a better outcome for their loved ones. However, most adults have never truly learned the importance of knowing that regardless of body image learning your value and worth as a human being should be number one and amount to so much more. Especially for girls, the pressure of being pretty is already set by the media and when kids hear it from their parents or family members then it becomes real that oh maybe I do need to look "perfect."
I remember when I was younger in elementary school I never thought about my weight until a cousin of mine told me "careful you don't want to get fat because no one will like you". I remember so young after that comment feeling so violated. I was not fat maybe a bit chubby and to be told that so young from a cousin whose opinion I valued, my body dysmorphia started to kick in. I still struggle with this today when looking in the mirror. My cousin who was probably 12 was already telling me a 7-year old that we need to get on track to be skinny and pretty. No other goals of having a good personality or to be smart. This was one of many comments about my body image or looks that I heard when I was under the age of 16 by family members and people who called me their best friends. As a child not knowing yourself or how to handle these situations I wish I had comebacks for these people but I didn't.
As an adult, I have heard some comments still under the breaths of people who just are unhappy with themselves and still, I had no comebacks which made me upset because I wanted to stand up to those people. So today I have come up with a plan to help myself and you to have a comeback plan for those rude people you may face and to get over times when you weren't able to defend yourself. If you have kids discuss bullying with them and teach them to have comebacks that are not aggressive but show the value of standing up and defending themselves so that they can curb low self-esteem issues. So here are some ways to attack the shamers.
1) Have a Comeback. Come up with some clever comebacks for whatever situation you have been in and write them down. For example, if a family member says to you, "you would be so much happier if you lost weight" have a simple reply of "no I think you would be happier if I lost weight. I am happy right now with myself. Are you happy with yourself?" With this reply, it's not rude or aggressive but it is simply showing that you will not accept someone telling you how to live your life. They may reply "I just care about you that's all" and I would just say to that person that you appreciate the concern and maybe have a discussion with that person about why they feel you need to "change" to be happier. Sometimes sitting down and discussing things might bring some awareness to them about the pressures they are bringing on you. If you are coming up with comebacks to people who are close to you it is great to add "I feel" to your comebacks such as "I feel that you are pressuring me to look perfect." Using "I feel" statements will help to show the person you are talking to that it truly affects you and that you are not being confrontational allowing for a better discussion.
2) Write Down Your Comebacks. When you come up with your comeback statements make sure you write them down. Then practice your statements and see how it makes you feel saying them out loud. Does it make you feel empowered? Or does it make you feel uncomfortable? Feel it out until you feel ready to say your statements out loud if the situation arises where you need to speak up. Practicing helps greatly and it will help build up your confidence.
3) Put Past Shamers to Rest. As I said there were so many instances where I did not stand up for myself and I wish I would have. The way my mind works is if someone says something rude to me I say to myself "wow did they just say that" and I start to analyze the situation so with all that happening it made me just stay quiet as they quickly moved on to something else. Or I simply just didn't want to start a confrontation because I hate fighting. However, as I stated above if you come up with comebacks that are non-aggressive you can feel better about avoiding possible fights or anger. So what do I do about the past shamers I could not confront? Well, I confront them now. Roleplay the situation in your head or write it down as it happened then add your confrontation or comeback that you wished you had said. I know it sounds funny but envisioning that terrible situation happening again with your added comeback shows yourself that you now have your back and don't' believe what those people stated about yourself. Sometimes we carry those words that people have said to us and wear them and let it define us. You are in control of defining yourself. By role-playing the situation you can now redefine it and take back whatever control those people had on you.
These three activities will help you to forgive yourself and others, to trust yourself, and to build your confidence. It is all about becoming a better version of yourself and it is never too late to build a stronger backbone. If you still have no luck making people see they are hurting you then realize that you are in control of your life and you have the right to tell those people that you will not accept being put down or ridiculed. Some people will never get it and you must accept that but you don't have to accept their behavior. So stay strong and know you are in control and that you can build a shield to protect yourself.