Most of us have been there before - kids singing "Fatty, Fatty 2-by-4" on the way to their classes at school, strangers asking whether we are pregnant or not, and coaches bashing us for being, well, fat.
Well, what if our relatives - like our in-laws and biological parents, do the same?
Even they have their share of using you as a weight bullying victim. They, like you, might be coping with the same weight problems (or other problems), so they take them out on you just to boost their mood and self-confidence for the wrong reasons. I watched a segment from the news magazine show What Would You Do? about this topic and I made it my second favorite one next to the situation where an autistic teen irritates a fellow diner.
A mother in a blue T-shirt and a towel around her berates a teen in a bikini top and khaki shorts because of her fat rolls hanging out (they are not that big). She pinches her sides, her thighs, and her belly and calls her disgusting. She compares her to a "whale sitting on a beach." Onlookers confronted her, and comforted the tearful, young beachgoer. One of them - surprisingly - is a fitness instructor. Judging by her character, she must be the person who believes in loving one's self at any size.
That segment just rips my heart out! I made a lot of hypotheses about the mother as she bullies her own girl about her weight. I think that maybe she must be going through that same weight problem as the girl and she's taking it out on her. I knew a lot of people in forums and blogs who are going through this or who have went through this and got over it (me included).
I learned from the video that loving myself no matter my size is just as important to weight loss and maintenance as regular exercise and healthy eating. Even before watching that heart-rendering segment, I wrote a 2-part Hub series on that.
Have you been harassed or bullied by your own family members about your weight? How did it feel? Did those experiences motivate you to lose weight, or something else? Did you seek help for that?
My family members all know by now not to bully me. As the youngest of five children, I learned long ago to take a strong approach about that.
However, I have a friend who is an only daughter, and has been abused by her mother most of her life because of weight. The woman would cycle back and forth between offering my friend food, and criticizing her weight. It felt positively psycho to witness. Her mother recently died, and another friend and I are wondering if our friend will change without having to resist her mother's constant harassment. She had wanted to do gastric bypass for several years, but her mother forbade it, even threatening to disinherit her if she had the surgery.
Her mother was known as generally a bully anyway.
My feeling about weight harassment is that weight is an easy issue, and one that more people get away making fun of other people about, and acting as bullies about than any other. We need to make that type of bullying as unacceptable as any other type of bullying. But it's a last bastion of meanness, even worse than meanness about aging.
I used to watch David Letterman occasionally, but actually stopped watching him at all because of his very unkind and constant cracks about people being overweight. Now I just view him as mentally lazy.
I really started noticing it when people went after Oprah because she was overweight. There she was, accomplishing more with her life than 99.99% of us ever will, and all too many people could do was focus on her weight. And they managed to make that very strong woman uncomfortable about it. Well, that's the perfect example of mentally and morally lazy people finding easy targets.
The big question I want to ask is why we're so judgmental in the first place. Why do we feel compelled to make fun of people who aren't living as we want them to, or who simply disagree with us? Why do we act as if we know it all, and have all of the answers if others would just let us rule their lives? All of this bashing in general says a lot about our society that isn't good.
Well, I want to say that all bullies have problems of their own and are dealing with them. To boost their self-esteem, they'd take it out on other people.
In the case of familial weight bullying, relatives who chide other relatives on weight are probably dealing with weight problems too. They might be obsessed with dieting. So they take their issues out on them just to make them feel better about themselves.
Your friend's late mother might have been bullying her about her weight because she would have been struggling with weight herself. So, the best thing to do if your friend meets you is to tell her that she loves herself no matter what size. Have her say this (or other affirmations on positive body image) several times every day.
Since we are talking about family members...
As to adults:
First time: Tell them this is hurtful and to please stop.
Second time: Flat out say, "Shut Up!"
Third time: Say, "What the F--k is wrong with you? Shut up!"
Fourth time: Slam them against the wall, but in a non-violent way.
The above are just examples. The idea is to let it be known that you will not tolerate it; and each time there is an incident, escalate your response.
As to kids:
First time: Tell them this is hurtful and to please stop.
Second time and beyond: Send them to their room, take away privileges, etc.
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