Ok, so this is a big topic and one that has shaped my whole relationship to food. I’m gonna be really honest with you here because this has been a huge lesson for me in the past year or so.
As a very slim child and having come from a similarly healthy family, I never understood how people could be overweight. I believed it was a gross mistreatment of their bodies and that, quite frankly, they should sort it out because I wasn't willing to share my plane seat with them.
We rarely had chocolates, sweets, coke or crisps in the house at home, not that we were ever denied them, but we just weren’t interested in them. The only rules I can remember around food when I was growing up was to finish what was on your plate and to at least try everything. I enjoyed food but never gave it much thought. So, I guess, you could say I was brought up with a very healthy relationship with food.
But one thing is for sure: my views were very fattist. My whole family has a fairly ambivalent, at best, attitude to people that carry some extra weight. In fact, I can clearly remember mentally labelling people as fat the minute they walked through the door, even if they were considered relatively slim by most. I never openly called anyone fat but I certainly treated them differently.
I prided myself on being naturally slim and used the struggles of others with their weight to reinforce this. I never had to worry about my weight, ate much as I liked and remained skinny. Until the whirlwind that is puberty, adolescence, boarding school (i.e. tuck shops), stress, alcohol and dieting swept me up during my early teens. My weight, or more accurately my body image, has been a constant struggle ever since.
Yep - my past of body-shaming (even of people that could hardly have reasonably be called fat) has come back to bite me in the behind!
I eat less than I used to and am more mindful of what I eat, exercise just as much and I even meditate to mitigate the effects of stress on my hormones. For the past 6 years I have been waging war with my body. But after a while this gets very boring and pretty exhausting.
But as a good friend put it to me recently, there is no point pining over my 9 year old body. A blunt, but much needed message for me to hear. (Thank goodness for friends that put it to you straight!). I’m a woman now, I have grown and now I can at least say that I have the compassion and empathy to understand that all body-shaming will do is set you up to fail and potentially cause others pain.
I'm not proud of how I may have judged people in the past but it has certainly taught me a great deal that I won't be forgetting anytime soon.
Put simply, by passing judgement on others you are shooting yourself in the foot. You are increasing the pressure on yourself and exposing yourself to increased scrutiny from others. If you look to others to make yourself feel better you will fuel the habit of comparing yourself to others. This is not a path you want to tread - trust me. It will only lead to a vicious cycle of finding fault with yourself, as well as others. There will always be something that others are doing better than you or are naturally gifted at that requires you to work much harder just to keep pace. Why hinge your value and self-worth on your opinion of someone else when your value is completely independent of them?
Stop picking yourself apart. Do yourself (and others) a favour by being body-kind. Or just straight up kind, for that matter.
Being thin, doesn't automatically make you healthy. In fact, there is a significant portion of overweight people that are at lower risk of metabolic disease than those in a ‘healthy’ weight range (as I previously mentioned here). Size isn’t all that matters.
How you treat people and what you say about them often reflects more about yourself than the target of the gossip. If you really love yourself you wouldn’t spend so much time bringing others down or criticising them. You don’t prompt people to make positive change by constantly bringing them down but by lifting them up and empowering them. Body-shaming will not create a healthy world or inspire wellness.
Show some body love and acceptance. To yourself and others. The world needs it.
We don’t need to hit rock bottom self-esteem to learn this lesson so save yourself a load of heartache and accept your body. You’ve got a head-start. Go use it.
Buckets of love,
P.S. Is this a message that you think others need to hear then share it on social media!
P.P.S. Do you have had an experience where the judgement you place on others has damaged your own self-esteem? Let me know in the comments!