May 29, 2012 at 10:50 am #27872
To anyone who has had general body image issues or eating disorders, how do you handle it when someone makes a casual comment about food choices that makes you upset?
Background: My entired childhood I was the big girl because I grew faster than everyone else in my class. In 5th grade I wore women’s size 10 jeans and I was extremely self-conscious. I wasn’t obese or unhealthy, just bigger than the other girls. It evened out in high school but there were a few years that were pretty shitty. My mom would always make comments at meals like “do you need the roll or do you want the roll?” and even though I know that she thought she was teaching me something about food choices but all I ever heard and felt was judgement. I struggled with eating disorders in college when my mom died. I was the text book definition of the over-achieving girl who felt like something in her life was out of control so she controlled her food and exercising.
Fast forward many years and I still dress pretty covered up and have body image hangups that seem random to people other than me. I was telling a friend that I was feeling discouraged and not very attractive after shopping for a cocktail dress. The next day, memorial day, I was with a group of friends eating picnic foods (hot dogs, etc) and drinking beer and someone made a comment about my decision to drink beer not making sense since I seemed to be concerned about my weight.
I completely flipped my shit and told this person to leave my party.
I know that was not the most rational response. How can I handle these types of situations better??May 29, 2012 at 11:02 am #27881
I’ve had body image/eating disorder issues since early high school (12ish years?). My eating disorder stemmed from wanting to controll something/anything similar to you. Luckily I’ve been able to keep everything in check for a few years now, mostly due to my amazing fiance. I don’t really have any good advice for you, but you’re not alone in not knowing how to deal with this.
I guess I would say surround yourself with people who are not going to be royal assholes like this person was. And keep working on yourself- go to counciling, write, take up a hobby- what ever makes you feel good so you can keep working on squashing your ED. It will never truely be cured (just like an addiction) but you can figure out how to live a happy and sucessful life. Good luck!May 29, 2012 at 11:08 am #27882
First of all, these people are dicks for even questioning your choice to eat a roll or drink a beer. You don’t have to rationalize your choices to anyone. I’ve honestly never had anyone ask me a question like that, and I have body issues similar to yours. I was always the “slightly larger” girl in school and got bullied a lot for not being skinny enough or pretty enough or slutty enough or wearing expensive enough clothes.
One thing I do want you to understand is that calories are calories, and if you stick to a certain number of them every day (like 1500 for example) you can eat whatever the hell you want in those 1500 calories. You can eat 1500 calories worth of pizza and beer or 1500 calories worth of salad and grilled chicken. You will be able to eat a lot more salad, sure, but the amount of calories is the same no matter what you eat. The equation for weight loss is burning more calories than you eat, regardless of what you eat.
The fact above is responsible for my loss of 20 lbs in the last couple years while giving up none of my favorite foods or drinks. I exercise moderately and eat small portions. If someone did question why I’m eating lasagna for dinner instead of a salad, I would say that I have my diet under control and my food choices are my own business. Then, I would point out how delicious my lasagna is. I’m still a size 14 and will probably never be actually skinny, but it’s way better than a size 18 where I was in 2010 and I didn’t have to make myself miserable to get here.May 29, 2012 at 12:02 pm #27898
I can’t fault you entirely for your response. What that person said to you was beyond rude. So, why should you want rude people at your party?
I know it is not always easy, but the old rule of stepping back, counting to ten (or twenty, or whatever it takes) before you respond is a pretty simple way of preventing any response you’ll later regret. I think I would have excused myself to go inside for a minute if it bothered me enough (which it probably would have- I am very sensitive about that stuff too). But, after you have the wherewithal, I guess a good verbal reply would be something like this- “I am fully aware of what I’m eating and drinking. When I complain out loud about some of my insecurities, it is just a way for me to vent. I don’t really need any advice or guidance, unless it is from a nutritionist that I’m paying. Cheers!”. And then take a big, fat swig of that delicious beer. I feel like this would shame the person enough to refrain from future comments. And you would be completely in line. Maybe this person thought they were being helpful (although it sounds just plain bitchy), but maybe in the future he/she would think twice before commenting on someone else’s food choices.
I am sure you’ll look great in that dress when you find it… whatever size you are. Remember, sometimes you have to try on a million things. Even very thin women have to do that. They don’t always make dresses that look good on actual humans. We’re not mannequins. Good luck and I hope you feel better soon! Life is too short to let jerks make you feel bad.May 29, 2012 at 12:20 pm #27909
If you are asking how to deal with rude people – you need a couple of phrases in your arsenal that you can trot out when you need it – and quite frankly honey – a lot of this is about attitude. I generally do not have people said wildly inappropriate things to me because they fear repercussions. I know other people say fear is bad – but whatever. A little fear keeps people in check. You need to master the awkward silence. When someone says something to you you can just look at them and say nothing – after a pause turn away from them and continue your conversation. Why should you feel embarrassment for someone else’s bad behaviour? You If you don’t like silence then there are lots of things you can say to shoot someone down – what is key though is you own your behaviour. If you want a beer – then have your beer. We all struggle with something. Weight might be more apparent than others – but everyone has something. I remember when I was little my mother told me my hips were too big and they should be straight like my brothers. It bothered me for years until I realized mommy – God love her – was crazy. I was a girl – girl should have curves. Something would have gone terribly wrong in my life if any part of me looked like a boy. The only thing that changed from the day it bothered me to the day it didn’t was MY perspective on the situation. Don’t let others colour your opinions. Do what you need to do to be healthy and happy – and tell everyone else to kiss your fine ass.May 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm #27911
Sorry Anna, I have to disagree. I don’t doubt that it worked for you and I think that it is wonderful, but there’s a lot of science coming out that says that calories aren’t all the same, especially concerning blood sugar.
But, back to Anon, there are several options. One is the total neutralizer: “Everything in moderation. Cheers.” One, is a joking one albeit self-depricating one, which is, it was this or the 10 inch cheese cake I was planning on eating tonight. Or — no need for a dietician when I have you. Another is to make them feel awkward – Are you really commenting on the caloric content of what I’m eating?May 29, 2012 at 12:36 pm #27913
Have you ever read the book “Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters”? While I’ve never had issues with food, this book is my manifesto- it’s all about how our culture has normalized disordered eating and body hatred and what we can do to change that, and how tightly eating disorders are aligned with control issues and over-achievement in women. It’s fascinating and really empowering and I highly recommend it! I have heard that some personal interviews featured in the books can be triggering for people with in recovery for ED, so you may want to tread carefully.
As for dealing with rude people. 1). that person at your party was a rude-ass bitch and deserved to be told to leave.
Like Firestar, people generally don’t say rude or inappropriate things to me…although I’m a tiny lady, I can be pretty formidable or even downright scary at times. Having a ready, practiced response for rude comments is key to calling people out on their rude behaviour. If someone asks you a rude question, say “why do you ask?”- there is no polite reason, usually, and they’ll realize how rude they’ve been. If someone makes a rude comment, give them a cold, 2-3 second stare and either walk away or tell them “that was really rude/inappropriate” and then walk away. After a few responses like this, people will start to learn that you won’t tolerate their shit.May 29, 2012 at 12:55 pm #27920
I agree with FireStar about having a few good phrases. My new favorite one (which I heard an America’s Got Talent contestant say to Howard Stern) is “that would hurt my feelings if I respected your opinion.” I have a feeling I’m going to use that a lot.May 29, 2012 at 1:37 pm #27948
I’m sorry that you had to hear those comments, and I agree that you should have some phrases in your arsenal. I know I’m personally guilty of being all “Are you sure you want to eat that?” to my dad, but he is pre-diabetic and we’ve all been frustrated with his stubborn attitude to not wanting to lose weight for his health.
Still, that person didn’t have the right to say that, and I might’ve had the urge to dump the beer right on them and said “How about this decision?” But don’t do that. I like honeybee’s AGT comment!
And sorry, have to disagree with Anna too. Not all calories are created equal, and if you wanted to watch your weight, 1500 calories of not so healthy food will not be good for you. An indulgence here and there is completely fine! But calories come with fat, sugar, cholesterol, sodium, etc, and those will hurt you. Empty calories in junk food will also not be so good for your body either… Sorry, the nutrition major in me rose up.May 29, 2012 at 3:41 pm #27968
This reminds me of the Christmas my mom decided to start calling me “el chubbo.” *blank stare* “Really? Really, mom? How is that not supposed to hurt my feelings?”
I agree that you need to have some phrases in mind that you practice with a close friend so that they sound natural by the time you need them. My personal favorite is a blank stare followed by “Indeed” said in a very dry tone. There are plenty of witty, snarky, or cold things you can say (“Oh look, I have a new keeper.” “And yet, I’m going to eat/drink/do this thing anyway.”)
I do think though that these situations can also be avoided if you try to learn to avoid discussing your insecurities and weight perceptions with people who are not in your inner circle. I think sometimes we get a little carried away and kvetching about weight or body image or what we’ve had to eat on any given day becomes like some women’s fantasy football. It’s considered a topic open for discussion. The problem is, when you participate in these discussions or you talk about it in general conversation, then it becomes a topic that is open for conversation and comment at times when you don’t want to talk about it (including your food choices and why are you wearing that?). When you need to vent about it, choose one or two people in your inner circle who know your entire history with it to talk with. Otherwise, the subjects of weight, body image and diet should be off the table. This takes training to stop doing, but I made the decision to do so when my size 16 self was out shopping for bridesmaid’s dresses with my size 6 sister and her size 4 BFF and listening to them comment on their weight and planned diets was like this strange caricature of some of my conversations with other women. It made me feel bad and I realized that this just wasn’t a topic that I should be discussing in polite conversation.May 29, 2012 at 3:56 pm #27974
I haven’t read any of the comments above so I’m sorry if anyone else already said this, but I have a theory I want to share: when you talk about weight issues (universal “you” here, not YOU you), people are more likely to make comments; when you don’t, they don’t. When people constantly say shit like, “oh I need to lose weight” or “oh my god I’m so fat” or “ugh, I wish I were thinner,” they call attention to the issue, and some people, rightly or wrongly, feel it’s open for discussion. Or maybe people are annoyed by it — you complain and complain (again, universal “you”) all while doing nothing about it and continuing to each like shit — a person fed up by that may lose his cool and snap, “well then put the donut down!!” It’s rude, yes, but I can kind of see where that person is coming from. It gets really annoying. My sister is constantly talking about how out of shape she is, how she needs to lose weight, etc. and sometimes it takes all of my energy to not shout “then fucking get off the couch and do something about it!” In my experience, when you don’t discuss weight, fat, diets, etc., people do NOT generally sua sponte make comments about it.
So, my questions for you are: do YOU talk about food a lot? Do YOU talk about weight and wanting to lose weight? My guess is maybe you do. It’s easy to do without even realizing it. We’re constantly around food, meeting friends for dinner, etc. – so it usually just slips out – “oh my god this is so good, I should not be eating this, no wonder I’m so heavy!” – you know, it just comes out.
Not sure if this theory is at all applicable, but if you find any truth in it, maybe try something: try NEVER to discuss weight, size, diets, work outs, etc. See if people back off with the comments.May 29, 2012 at 4:08 pm #27976
I was thinking the same as Addie Pray… i know that when i’m more complain-y about losing weight, my fiance will say something that he thinks is helpful. when really? it pisses me off :p but if i dont talk about it, he doesn’t notice or say anything either.
this is not to say you shouldnt discuss your issues, but there’s a difference in serious discussion and offhand comments..May 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm #27986
Thanks for all the input. I have 2 close friends who are my go-tos for the real in depth conversations and we support each other about the body image issues as well as everything else you would talk to your closest girlfriends about. For some reason, these two girls and my brother are the only people I don’t get upset with when talking about food and weight.
I also want to point out that I go to the gym regularly and eat a healthy diet so this isn’t a matter of me complaining about something that I’m not working on. There’s just a fine line I don’t want to cross when it comes to restricting calories and exercising because I do not want to be back in the place where my calorie count and gym schedule were top priority. That was not a good time in my life.
I do find myself talking about food and clothing a lot because it is easy for it to come up in conversation, but I know that isn’t always healthy for it to be at the tip of your tongue, so I’m glad that turtledove, Addie and Michelle pointed that out. I’m a size 8 and there are people in my life who are either size 0 or 16, and those are the ones who tend to make the comments. The smaller ones think I should stop complaining and do more and the larger ones think I should stop complaining because I’m already skinny.
After I posted and some of you responded with clever things to say to stupid comments, I realized that it’s less about the actual food or my actual appearance and more about control. When someone makes a comment about something I’m eating or drinking, it upsets me because I perceive that as them thinking that I’m not in control of myself or that they are somehow trying to control me.
I’m an adult who can decide she wants a beer or a cookie or whatever, but does that mean I can’t honestly say “I had a shitty day shopping and now I kinda feel like crap” when someone asks how my day was?
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