Our society has conditioned many to believe that certain body sizes must be maintained for social acceptance and happiness. Here’s how these fears may be impacting others around you.
BY: TRACY BROWN, RD
Most people who have struggled with food or weight worries has likely uttered the phrase:
“I feel fat.”
While it is typically said in fear of weight gain, many have tended to use the term ‘feeling fat’ as a code word for ” I am uncomfortable” or ” I am not okay”. While you understand the world won’t end if you gained weight, you may be afraid that it might make you unloveable and hope that weight gain won’t happen.
This “I feel fat” code language impacts people of all shapes and sizes. It is painful for everyone. However, when a person in a smaller body says “I feel fat” it is different than being in a larger body. This is because there are less comfortable places for a larger person than someone in a smaller body.
Chances are, you don’t mean to hurt other people when you say you feel fat around others, but it does.
It’s not your fault; it’s conditioning and protection. Who wants to be stigmatized?
You may even truly believe that it’s okay for others to have their own diverse body type, except for you. There is no shaming or blaming here… it’s about looking beyond your own standpoint, and how we hurt ourselves when we are unaware of how weight fears might impact others.
There is an internalized fat bias that our society has imposed, so consider this as an invitation to look at fear of weight gain for what it is. Here are 3 ways fearing weight creates separation from others:
1. It’s damaging to those around you when you berate your own body.
When we are berating our own bodies, it puts others above or below you. It creates ‘comparitis’, competition, and a sense of lack rather than honoring each other for our personal strengths and qualities.
Berating our bodies perpetuates weight bias and its endless cycle. Know that you are a sensitive, compassionate person and don’t want this for yourself. This is simply a blind spot you have because of the diet culture vacuum we have all lived in for decades. Remember, there is so much beauty around us. When we are busy looking down, we often forget to look up and see what is good about our bodies.
2. Thinness does not bring approval from others
While thinness can bring privilege in certain ways, rest assured that life does not become perfect. When you spend most of your time feeling insecure, chasing a smaller body, and constantly worried of what people may think if you “let yourself go”, you may find it difficulty connecting with others. It will not make anyone love you more or make your professional life easier.
Avoiding life’s challenges by pursuing thinness will only leave less of you to engage with life. Take some time to be compassionate, curious, and brave about what we truly need beneath the desire to “be smaller”. For what? For whom? What will happen? Then what?
3. Self judgement implies you may be judging others
Often times, anyone who is having any thoughts about another’s body is someone who is not comfortable with their own. They have work ahead of them to grow into the person they could be, as we all do. The stories created by their body fears are not reality, just a symptom of their wounding. No matter what your size, know that “ I feel fat” is likely “ I feel uncomfortable”.
If you identify with this scenario, understand where this judgement comes from and start challenging the idea that comparing yourself to another person won’t bring you closer to them. You are merely judging on a superficial level and wedging a larger social separation between you and the other person.
That can be a pretty lonely place to be.
Luckily, our world is slowly learning that there is so much more to health than our body size. There is a movement towards minimizing past social norms of equating size with lovability or worth.
Know that you are allowed to hold space for your fear, but understand what it would mean for you to be content with your body. And most of all, be aware that what you say does have an impact on others….and yourself.
HEADER IMAGE: JAY MANTRI
Tracy Brown, RD is a Naples, FL-based registered dietitian and attuned eating coach who helps individuals heal their negative relationships with food and weight concerns. With a focus on eating disorders and disordered eating, Tracy helps others live fully through their recognition of the diverse, amazing bodies we have.