Weight, Eating and Microaggressions
Ever have someone say to you, “You’re not really going to eat that, are you, when you said you were trying to slim down?,” “You’re so handsome/pretty and you’d look even better if you lost some weight,” or “Whatever happened to that diet you were on a few weeks ago?” These are hardly unusual comments for higher weight people to hear. Many come into therapy sessions depressed or incensed about remarks that friends, family, co-workers or complete strangers have made about their eating or their weight.
Rather than being obvious attacks, these microaggressions can be just as hurtful and damaging to you. They’re sneaky devils that sound as if they’re not meaning to twist the knife and the people who utter them can be equally adept in feigning innocence and blaming others for their unkind utterances. Some great advice comes from an enlightening article about racism and microaggressions that explains the categories they may fall into (“Dear anti-racist allies: Here's how to respond to microaggressions,” Kristen Rogers, CNN, https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/05/health/racial-microaggressions-examples-responses-wellness/index.html, 6/6/20, accessed 6/6/20).
- Remarks that seem like a compliment but are actually offensive, such as, “You used
to be such a fussy eater but now you hardly ever say no to food.”
- People who refuse to take responsibility when saying things such as ,“I love you
no matter what weight you are, but the news said it’s bad for your health to be so fat.”
- People who act as if they know better than you do what’s best for and ask things
like, “Do you really want that piece of cake?”
- Remarks that aren’t about your eating or weight directly, but get the point across that
what you’re doing is wrong, such as, “I saw Louise yesterday and you wouldn’t believe how much weight she’s put on,
What can you do? Plenty. Here are suggestions from the article.
- “Make the invisible, visible.” Let the speaker or doer know you’re not pleased with
what was said or done. They’re not mind-readers, so get your message across.
- “Educate the perpetrator” by explaining how what they did or say hurt or upset you.
Stick to your hurt rather than defending yourself. If you’re hurt, keep repeating it.
- “Disarm the microaggression” by changing the direction of the conversation. Take
charge so that they and others know that their remark has been inappropriate.
By the way, this article is worth reading whether you’re Black or White, so that we’re on an equal playing field when it comes to eliminating racial microaggressions whether you’re the victim or the perpetrator.