When you learn how to spot body shaming behaviour, it’s empowering.
You feel armed with a new set of tools that will help you wake up, kick ass and repeat.
The awesome thing: You start noticing it everywhere, and you can start to very carefully curate where you put your energy. You can let go of toxic people; media that doesn’t help you and activities that hinder your self-love.
The not-so-awesome thing: You start noticing it everywhere.
Not just from the media. Not just from the usual suspects…
But from those nearest and dearest, too.
Friends. Relatives. Parents. Teachers. Mentors. Acquaintances. Colleagues. People you meet at parties. People who have no idea that they’re doing it. People who are doing it very intentionally. And that sucks. Because you’ll get to a point where you won’t be able to ignore it anymore, for the sake of your own wellbeing.
There will come a time where you value your own ethics more than laughing off the joke; where you value your mental health more than avoiding uncomfortable conversations.
And so you’ll speak up, you’ll say something.
If you’re lucky, your concerns will be met with respect and consideration and you never know, you might not only change a relationship for the positive, but you might also change someone’s perspective.
That’s powerful and shouldn’t be underestimated.
But… that’s if you’re lucky.
And the more you walk this journey, the more you’ll discover that not everyone has your best interests at heart.
You’ll likely be met with criticism; you’ll be shut down, interrupted and dismissed.
Your concerns will be ignored, and you’ll be forced to make a choice.
You’ll see very clearly who values you only for how readily you’ll affirm their own world view; who values you most for your ability to laugh at their jokes, pretend their ignorance is hilarious and brush off insensitivity as if it were nothing at all.
But it isn’t nothing.
It’s a very BIG something that exists not just vaguely in the world, but in your life.
Have those around you always been this way? Is it their fault? What if they never change?
The truth is: we’ve all got a history. We all have a backstory; experiences that have shaped and defined us. And no matter how well we think we know someone, we never get to see the full picture.
On the surface we may see a narcissist. Or an unsympathetic, spiteful person. Or someone void of empathy. Or an emotionally stunted person who refuses to grow.
And sure, that may be true for some… but that’s only part of the story. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. And chances are, they’ve had experiences that have made them who they are, that have shaped their personality for better or for worse.
So when you raise your (very valid) concerns about their body shaming behaviour with them, you’re seeing only their reaction. You’re seeing only their own insecurity, years of built up defence mechanisms and internalised bias… projected onto you.
It’s not your fault.
Hell, sometimes it’s not even their fault.
But unfortunately, it does mean that you still have to make a choice.
Are you willing to stick around in someone’s life for the promise that one day, they may address their own issues and take yours seriously too?
How much do they mean to you, and how much do you mean to them?
Sometimes, you have to love them and let them go.
Maybe one day, they’ll return to you in a better place to be able to hear you (and not just see you as a burden for calling out their behaviour).It can be hard to let go.
And it’s one of the least enjoyable parts of this healing process; this transformation that takes place during one’s self-love and body positivity journey. It’s a harsh but necessary step.
For you cannot live a positive life when we open the door to toxicity. You cannot allow ourselves to truly flourish in self-love when our efforts and energy are continually dragged down by those who are threatened or frightened by your growth.
You, darling one, are a shining light; far too bright to be dimmed by the darkness and fog of those who are yet to see their own light.
And you owe it to yourself to let yourself shine.