We live in a culture obsessed with diets, body size, food, and unrealistic comparison. If this surprises you just turn on the TV or radio, open a magazine, surf the net or listen in on conversations at a gym or salon.
This obsession has created an environment where it’s become “normal” for women to be at war with their bodies.
In other words, it’s become the norm for a woman to NOT accept her body as it is genetically designed. It’s now expected that you would strive to have the discipline to change your body into what it “should” look like or eat the foods you “should” not foods you enjoy… You get the picture. We “should on ourselves” daily.
With these unrealistic expectations and so-called “norms” we now have a society of people that feel like they “should” and can comment on a person’s body size (whether a person’s weight has moved up or down for example). We also have a society of people who judge other people’s food choices and feel it’s either their place and/or appropriate to make comments on what someone else chooses to consume.
Here is the thing. Unless people ask you what you think or specifically for your help, THEIR food choices and body size are THEIR business and not yours! This really blows people’s minds. While speaking at a conference, I had a participant ask me how she should tell a student that she worked with she needed to stop eating so much because she was getting fat. Somehow, I managed to maintain a pretty good poker face and proceeded to explain that the person who she felt compelled to confront actually lives in her own body. It is very probable that she realizes that her nutritional choices, exercise or lack of and emotional triggers are or have impacted her body. BUT, here’s the kicker, SHE lives in her body, SHE has the power to decide what is appropriate and SHE could have been very happy with where she was… Giving someone unsolicited advice almost always backfires. Like when I was young and someone asked me “is that on your diet?”
Think about how you feel when someone gives you unwarranted advice or shames you… Exactly- it hurts and it probably creates rebellion in you as well. The same is true for most people–we have the need for autonomy. When someone revokes it from us, we tend to take the “spite” or “I’ll show you” path instead.
There are two sides to this coin. First, you need to create a filter for the “shoulds” that people and our culture tell you about your body and food choices. Second, learn to focus on the qualities of people in front of you and refuse to comment on their size/food choices. Take care of your body and choose what works for you, and let others do the same.
I hope we can learn as a society to focus on nurturing people not tearing them down because of the body they live in or the food choices they make. The change starts with you… mind your own business and let others mind theirs!
—-This post was written by Leslie and Janet after a long conversation on this topic (obviously precipitated from an unwarranted comment). We’d like to know what you think and if you have an effective and assertive way to help others worry about themselves versus commenting on others choices and appearance. Have a happy and “mind your own business” kind of day!