Fat, tall, skinny, or small, you just might be a bully! (and not even know it) Read on to discover if you’re guilty of food bullying or body shaming . . .
Recently, sitting at a local restaurant, I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation going on at a nearby table. There were six people. Five were relatively slender and fit, while one was not. The conversation was fairly normal, until one of the slender fit guys started taking a few jabs at what the overweight lady was eating. It was obvious these comments were not well-received. But it didn’t stop there. Next, a slender fit woman chimed in saying how the overweight lady must not like to eat at a certain restaurant because all they serve is healthy stuff.
You probably have some pretty strong thoughts and emotions right now.
I mean who does that, right? That type of behavior is not encouraged or accepted anywhere, anytime, yet it happens all the time . . . just in a slightly different way and we all smile and chuckle and carry on. Don’t believe me? Let’s change the story just a little. Read carefully and pay attention.
Sitting at a local restaurant, I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation going on at a nearby table. There were six people. Five were typical overweight Americans, while one was not. The conversation was pretty standard, until one of the overweight guys started taking a few jabs at the salad the slender lady was eating. It was obvious these comments were not well-received. But it didn’t stop there. Next, one of the overweight women chimed in saying how the fit lady must not like to eat at a certain restaurant because there’s nothing there she would possibly eat.
Do you have any strong thoughts or emotions after this story?
Is the slender lady supposed to be flattered? Do the others expect her to say – Thank you for the unwanted attention! My salad and I are honored by your words.
What if we change the story one more time? What if the person getting picked on is not a slender lady, but an overweight lady who’s on a “health kick” trying to make good nutrition choices?
Without doubt, the fat person getting picked on for eating poorly infuriates you more than the other two scenarios. I’ve got news for you – all three situations are equally wrong.
Body shaming is defined as the practice of making critical, potentially humiliating comments about a person’s body size or weight. These scenarios are perfect examples of body shaming and what I like to call food bullying – the food equivalent of body shaming, where someone is called out, criticized, judged, or humiliated because of what they choose to eat. It’s real and it happens more than you can imagine.
In our ultra-PC culture, it’s more than frowned on to make fun of someone for being overweight. I get it. I agree 100%. However it’s perfectly okay to pick on a slender person for doing something healthy. “Yeah, but they’re confident and fit. They don’t care. It doesn’t bother them.” Bullcrap! How do you know that? Slender or overweight, that guy or gal trying to eat healthy just may be the most self conscious person you know. Or they could be brimming with confidence . . . but sick and tired of some fatty constantly poking fun at their healthy lunch everyday.
Ohhh, did I hit a nerve?
Now you see my point. Mr. Fitness and Nutrition can’t say “fatty,” but the fatty can pick on my clients and fit friends all they want. Nope. I won’t stand for it.
If a fit person makes fun of a fat person, they’re a heartless jerk obviously harboring some insecurities. If an overweight person calls out a fit person for what they choose to eat or how much they exercise, they’re just witty and funny. No. Not anymore.
I know, I know. You may be thinking – it makes perfect sense, but I had no idea it was received that way. Well, now you know.
Why don’t we all try this for a change? It’s real simple. Ya ready?
“That’s awesome. Good for you!”
Either don’t say anything at all or if you must say something when someone chooses to make good food or exercise choices (regardless of how fat or fit they might be), just say – “That’s awesome. Good for you!” For God’s sake, encourage them, don’t shame or bully them! You never know what that individual may be dealing with, struggling through, or pondering on the inside.
Forget what you see on the outside, just go talk to a professional counselor. Ask them how many people they see that have some form of body image issue or disordered eating. From anorexia to bulimia to body dysmorphia to plain ol’ stress eating, our emotions are intimately tied to our food. Would you razz a recovering alcoholic for not having a drink at the office party? Exactly! So let’s also leave alone the struggling anorexic who’s trying their best to become fully healthy.
Deep breath . . . soapbox . . . departed!
Wrap It Up Corey
I don’t consider myself a super PC, let’s-all-hold-hands-and-sing-kumbaya kind of dude, but body shaming and food bullying are real. Before I was aware of it, I’m sure I was guilty. After being a Food and Fitness Coach for nearly 20 years, I’ve heard countless stories from friends, family, and clients. I don’t think the “guilty parties” are bad people. I just think they’re unaware. It needs to be brought to people’s attention and it needs to stop. Let’s all be positive, encouraging, and loving! That tends to always result in awesome things.
So, if this blog makes you realize you’re guilty and you decide to never do it again . . . all I’ve got to say is – That’s awesome. Good for you! 😉
If you enjoy my blog, you’re tired of all the bullcrap, dishonesty in the weight-loss industry, and you’re ready for something different then shoot me an email CoreyLittleCoaching [at] gmail.com.
Or snag my free download on weight loss secrets and food tweaks. It contains 10 “do this now” steps I teach every client.