So we’re going to extend our series on having enough to talk about when you’ve really HAD ENOUGH of hearing criticism about your body. No matter how well adjusted we are, no matter how wonderful our friends and family are, there comes a time when you just have to say, “That’s it. No more!”
There are many ways to handle this in many different situations. And I can’t hope to cover them all here. But I did want to share one strategy that I use with well meaning people who love me, who feel they need to “save me from my weight problem”.
Let me start by recognizing, this is very tough. While complete strangers can be ignored, treated with disdain, shouted at, made fun of or even covered with jelly, buried in sand up to their necks with fire ants dumped on their heads, sometimes you actually want to retain relationships with those you love. So even if you’re really, really mad at friends and family for bringing up the weight issue again, the fire ants and jelly solution may be somewhat inappropriate in that situation.
It would be great to be, in all situations, fierce. But truthfully, I don’t always feel that way–especially when I’m dealing with friends and family. Sometimes I feel up to a three hour argument about size acceptance. Sometimes, frankly, I don’t. And in some situations, the timing just doesn’t seem right for a long educational lecture.
So one tool that I use with those I love is what I call the “border patrol” solution. First, I thank the well meaning person for their concern. Next, I tell them that I am aware of my size and am comfortable with the path I’ve chosen for myself. And finally I tell them that I really don’t care to discuss it with them and ask that they please respect my wishes. Sometimes I say that my councilor or therapist has “suggested” that I not discuss my weight with my family right now. (For some folks, invoking a ‘doctor’ real or imaginary can help put them at ease, or at least shut them up.) If they bring up the weight issue again or are unwilling to stop talking about it, I give them one warning. I say, “I’ve asked that we drop (not bring up) this subject. I love you, but if you can’t respect my wishes in this regard, I will be forced to leave.” Then if they still keep it up, I quietly pick up my keys and my purse, and I leave.
So you set the boundary, let them know what will happen when they cross the boundary, give them one shot to hop the hell back over the boundary the first time they blow it, and then take you and your boundaries out of the situation if they don’t get your very clear message. Now I don’t stay away forever. But I let them know that this is my boundary and I’ve got sentries and guards on that boundary 24-7. And I let them know that the next time we get together, the boundary will be the same.
Does this always work? No. Is it appropriate for every situation? Of course not. But this tool has served me well over the years and has allowed me to reenforce my dominion over my own body and has allowed many relatives and friends and I to agree to disagree on this topic and maintain wonderful relationships.
So my little chicklettes, the next time somebody you really care about is driving you nuts about telling you how to live inyourbody, try setting up a little border patrol. Be consistent. Be firm. Try being, in your own time and in your own way, just a little bit fierce.
The Fat Chick