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4 Tips For Dealing With Body Shamers

by Kennetta

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been thin. When I went to college, I weighed 97 pounds and at my heaviest (pregnant), I weighed 130 pounds. Now, this is by no means bragging; this is a realization of where I was and where my 48-year-old self currently is. Trust me when I say that I’m very realistic about life’s changes, getting older and hormonal imbalances.

So, two years post hysterectomy, I was dealing with a different set of body issues but NEVER and I do mean NEVER did I think that I would be defending myself and my body to anyone.

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There was an event with people I haven’t seen in a while coming up and I was dreading it, just because I was self conscious about my weight and body. I mean, despite working out (as much I could with aching joints), eating healthy and cutting out Sprite (R.I.P.), my weight was still climbing.

As the date for the event was approaching and I wasn't losing any weight, I had strategically picked out, from the things I could still wear, dresses and other clothes that would mask what was really going on underneath. I packed with intention and felt confident about my wardrobe decisions.

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First up on the agenda was a collective dinner. I decided to wear one of my newest favorite pieces, my trusty blue Kimono. Surely, my vintage (fat hider) kimono would be my shield of defense for ANYTHINGHowever, it was no defense against what happened next.

Her:  “Girl, you are always wearing some interesting pieces”

Me: “I’m here to entertain the people”…lol

Her:  “Well, it IS interesting” (as she pulls back one side of my vintage kimono)

Her:  *audibly gasps* “OH MY GOD!!!  LOOK AT YOUR THIGHS!  LOOK AT YOUR BUTT!”

Me: *blinking over and over in disbelief and blinking back the tears

Her:  OH MY GOD!  WHAT IS WRONG???  ARE YOU OKAY?

Listen, it takes a lot for me to be speechless. I mean, I haven’t been speechless since the end of the football season when the New Orleans Saints were stunned by that play by the Vikings.

Yet, I found myself fumbling over my words and trying to blink back the tears. I, usually the queen of snark, had nothing to say. To add more insult to injury, I gingerly walked around the event for the rest of the night. Only when I was tucked safely in my hotel room, with my head on my pillow, I cried.

I wasn’t upset because of the comments, because, "Girl Bye." I was more upset with myself and how I responded. So, since my therapy session with myself is so fresh, here are some tips for dealing with body shamers:

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  • Anger is an acceptable response

    • PLEASE know, body shaming is conflict, and if you encounter it and it rubs you the wrong way, you’re allowed to get angry. Body shaming should spark anger. If you feel that rage bubbling up inside of you, don’t be afraid to express it.

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  • Tyra Mail. . . It’s not you, it’s them

    • Their dig at you is about their own prejudices and biases, not about who you are as a person. Though it might be their intent to make you feel like like shit, you don’t have to absorb their words, take them seriously or think about them or their comments for any longer than the moment.

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  • Defend yourself 

    • While you don’t have to go all Lemonade on them, if you are confident enough in the moment to say something, do it. If you aren’t that confident in the moment or can’t find the words, make time after the incident to call them, text them or send them an email and let them know how that made you feel. Use this as an opportunity to educate the offender. Additionally, it might not be worth your sanity getting into a long discussion about body shaming with someone who seems wholly committed to being ignorant and cruel. Instead, take the time to get "thicker skin" about this area.
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  • Take a page from the book of a few women who clapped back at their body shamers, like Tyra Banks

After a bathing suit photo of Tyra was published in tabloids under headlines like "Thigh-ra Banks," she put on the same suit on her show to demonstrate that the photo was a result of a bad camera angle. To the haters, she responded, "I have one thing to say to you: kiss my fat ass!"

And to the body shamer that shamed me: You only got one chance to get me. For reference, read the last line of the quote above… #KMA

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