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4 Responses for When Someone Comments on Your Weight During Holiday Meals

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I am a child of immigrants. And the culture in which my parents came from (and which I took part in — still take part in) values thinness. A lot. And it has always been a “normal” thing to do — discuss food, talking about diets, ways to lose weight, ways to shrink ourselves.

But one of the privileges that I’ve experienced while living in Toronto include the conversations around eating disorders, setting boundaries, having healthy relationships with food, and body dysmorphia. And the work that goes into reprogramming our brains to shift the weight (pun intended) on these conversations.

Because in the media that I had consumed as a kid, seeing teenagers and young adults flaunt their latest diet or workout to lose weight, stay slim and take up less space has been damaging, to say the least.

Even though I have gone through years of therapy and beat an eating disorder, disordered eating still makes its way into my life, more often than not. I am a work in progress. But this progress is often stalled or meets its match the most during the holiday season.

Friends and family and friends of family and family of friends somehow, even in this day and age, feel as though they have the entitlement to comment on my body, my weight, the food I eat.

But alas, we all tend to somehow end up at the dinner table with those with The Audacity, so here are my go-to responses when they decide to comment on my weight at the dinner table (cue vomit emoji).

1. Please do not comment on my weight.

I know, this seems so straightforward. Duh, Erica. But sometimes things have to be said bluntly. And with direct eye contact. Seriously. Don’t give in, don’t smile or laugh to make it more palatable. This is a hard boundary, set it as such. You’d be surprised how many people only take you seriously after you stare at them, emotionless and unmoving.

2. I know you meant that as a compliment, but it really isn’t.

My family members thought that I looked my best when I was at the lowest point in my eating disorder. I had no energy, I didn’t want to engage in conversation, but they applauded me for “wow sticking to it” when really it was a demon I was battling every day. And was on the losing side.

3. I know your intention is not to be hurtful, but I urge you to do your own research/work to find out why your statement is so damaging.

It’s almost 2022, folks. We are exhausted. And I am personally exhausted. Tired to the bone. And I am not longer taking it upon myself to explain things/teach people things when they are clearly not ready for the conversation. It is not your job to be everyone’s teacher and you do not have to justify why it is hurtful for you.

4. This is not open for discussion or debate.

A follow up to point 3. It’s not my job to teach them. If they come back to me and say they just “want to learn” or “debate,” go do the learning yourself. Google that shit. Watch videos or join community boards where people do want to learn. But it is not my job to teach you.

And this is what I’ve learned: you can craft the most beautiful, kind, thoughtful response and reasoning to why you do or do not want to discuss something, but when you bring it up at all, it’s opening it up for discussion and you know what we’re not doing? Opening it up for discussion. Because my health and what I deem as healthy or triggering behavior is not up for debate, regardless of our familial relationship.

Getty image by Thomas Barwick

Originally published: November 22, 2021
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