Is it August already?! Month one of the Suit Urself Swimsuit Challenge is complete, and we’ve gotten some amazing participation (check out our gallery)! Last week, we talked about the OTHER things we fret over (body hair, acne, scars, birthmarks, etc.) when it comes to body-baring in “It’s not just about size.” Over the past few weeks, we’ve been posting lots of feel-good information on how to get on better terms with your body and rev up the confidence. The only problem is, the only person you can improve is yourself. So while we’re busy working to accept ourselves, we can’t do much about other people’s attitudes. Sure, you can distance yourself from individuals or a group of people who make you feel bad, but often hurtful comments come from complete strangers, and are completely unexpected. How do you handle that? Body-snarking is an ugly, UGLY part of our society. Just take a look at any tabloid cover – of “shocking” cellulite photos (90% of women have cellulite, is it really that shocking?!), unflattering bikini images and a cover story about how an actress’ weight has spiraled out of control – and you’ll see that as a society, body judgment sells. But that doesn’t make it right. The best thing you can do is keep body gossip out of your life, to the best of your ability. Don’t participate in it, encourage it, or allow others to get away with making you feel bad about your body. Most of the time people are making comments to try to get a reaction from you. If you refuse to give it, they lose interest. Chalk up their infantile behavior as ignorance and move on. Here are some other tips from Cynthia Bulik, Ph.D.(Director UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders and author of “Midlife Eating Disorders”):
- Educate – Speak up when someone you know starts bodysnarking. Do it gently, in a manner they can learn from. Help them understand that bodysnarking is no different from other kinds of prejudice or injustice.
- Don’t reinforce – Don’t join in, don’t rise to the bait, just move on to another topic. You might be tempted to laugh along with a body-snarking joke. Don’t. If you give it attention, you’ll be reinforcing it and increasing the likelihood that it will happen again.
- Model body positive talk – People around you are much more influenced by what you do than what you say. If you are talking up a body-snark-free game, but your friends constantly hear you complaining about your own body or snarking on others, your attempts to educate will fall on deaf ears.
Body-snarking is a big behavioral problem in our society and luckily, we have clever examples here to show you that there is power in how you react. There are also great organizations, such as Proud2Bme, that are just as passionate about fighting the body-snark. Proud2Bme actually has a Stamp Out Body-snarking Campaign going on – check it out! Here’s Youtuber Meghan Tonjes with a great response to body-snarking: And don’t forget this video – which made headlines last year – of CBS WKBT News Anchor Jennifer Livingston’s classy response to a viewer calling her fat:
Join us next week for our next body image-building post: “Meet the fat-shionistas” And don’t forget to follow our campaign on Twitter using the #suiturself tag, check out our submission gallery, or send us your own submission to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Related posts from the Suit Urself series: It’s not just about size The Beach Body Tutorial If you like it, wear it! Work what you’ve got! Body acceptance tips Why are body image challenges important? Suit Urself! Choose your attitude this summer with our body-positive swimsuit challenge!