Bullying has been the cause of emotional distress for many, young and old. Weight is just one of the topics that, sometimes inadvertently, becomes the cause of unwanted pressure and uncomfortable attention. For one experiencing this, here are 10 tips to deal with weight stigma and bullying:
- Become educated about weight stigma and learn to identify it. Like any form of stereotyping or stigma, a comment may even seem well intentioned. To begin eliminating the negativity of weight stigma, the first step is being able to identify it and talk about it.
- Become a critic of media and television that present unrealistic characteristics as ideal, or shame normal figures. Talk back to the media, saying to yourself: “That’s not real!” or “It’s not cool to shame someone for having a body!”
- Remember that weight and size are not an indicator of health.
- Distinguish between language about health and weight stigma. Weight loss or healthy eating is very different than weight bias and stigmatizing someone for how they look.
- Enforce the ways in which you are valuable that have nothing to do with appearance. Make a list of your strengths and carry a small copy with you as a reminder.
- Surround yourself with positive reinforcement. Affirmations can be helpful too: “Your body is absolutely valuable, right this minute, without change of any kind, simply because it is your home. It is always doing its best for you, no matter what.”
- Find healthy role models who demonstrate body positive standards.
- Whether dealing with weight stigma from health providers or fitness gurus, don’t be afraid to confront them directly, letting them know that their comments are hurtful.
- Recognize that you might not be able to change someone else’s point of view, but carrying yourself with integrity will go a long way.
- Consider the source: Weight bullying is a form of insecurity itself; People who bully are struggling with something inside themselves that causes them to put down others. Compassion goes over a lot better and makes you a stronger person.
Although it’s never easy to face bullying, being prepared and ready to respond can be the biggest empowerment to cope with how people treat you.
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