Every human being has to contend with a negative loop of voices in their heads, and large women are subject to a whole lot of them. This “loop” consists of voices from our childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. The negative words and phrases repeat in our heads just like a skipping record, and get “rebooted” whenever we feel the emotions those messages trigger.
The messages can be delivered by a wide variety of people: from our family and friends to the stranger on the street. They are usually critical and designed to make us feel ashamed, afraid, and uncomfortable. The motives for these messages can be just as varied as the people who deliver them, and they may even be totally unaware that they are being negative.
What is the most effective way to deal with them?
It’s far too simple – and ineffective -- to advise you to simply ignore them. You may be able to ignore or suppress them for awhile, but sooner or later, when the emotions become overwhelming, they can lead to complete emotional paralysis. This is why it’s extremely important to deal with them before they foster any more negativity in your life.
Here’s a sampling of a few messages many of you probably have in your “loop”:
* When are you going to do something about your weight?
* You’ll never get a boyfriend/husband/lover if you don’t lose weight.
* You’d better do something about your weight before you get diabetes/high blood pressure/a heart attack.
* It’s such a shame, you’re so pretty. Why don’t you try another diet?
So, how do we deal with this verbal toxicity? Most importantly, consider the messenger. Is it a family member, close friend, or lover? If that’s the case, the next question you need to ask yourself is if they sincerely have your best interests at heart. A lot of people may claim to care about you; but if they did care, why would they be trying to make you feel bad? For example, if they’re sincerely concerned about your health, they would be much gentler with their words and you would be able to feel their genuine love for you. Love feels good, not bad. If what someone says makes you feel bad, it is NOT coming from love! It’s coming from something negative inside THAT person, and they are trying to relieve their own “ickiness” by transferring it to you. Whenever you get an “icky” feeling from someone close to you, seriously examine the relationship. Ask yourself if it’s worth continuing; and if it’s not, RUN.
Also, challenge those messages. If someone says, “You’ll never get a boyfriend …” etc., ask yourself: Is that really true? Many plus-sized women have found love, and many men love bigger women. If they’re questioning your health, ask them what their medical credentials are, and what facts they have to back up their assumptions. Far too many of us allow ourselves to be intimidated, shamed, and demeaned by people who are simply ignorant and have no clue what they’re talking about. Start making them seriously answer for themselves, and you’ll usually find they falter pretty fast.
If the messages are coming from someone “neutral”, like an employer, colleague, or acquaintance, go through the same process. Consider the messenger. Ask yourself if the messages you’re receiving are truly constructive, or are merely an excuse to mess with you. An employer/employee situation is particularly stressful, as a job is an important part of anyone’s life. However, if an employer or colleague is consistently treating you in a negative way and makes you feel so uncomfortable that it’s interfering with your job, that is harassment. Keep a written record of negative incidents – note the dates and times, person or persons involved, and note exactly what happened. Compile a list of incidents. Then go to your human resources department and lodge a formal complaint. If you’re not confident that your complaints will be dealt with fairly, ask yourself if it’s really worth working there. Work comprises a major part of our lives, and dreading going to work every day is no way to live. Fight it, and fight hard. If the fight doesn’t pay off, leave. You deserve, and will find, better.
Lastly, if the negative messages are coming from a stranger – some idiot, for example, who feels entitled to comment on the size of your ass when you walk by – I have one question for you: WHY DO YOU CARE? Obviously, anyone who feels it’s perfectly okay to insult a total stranger is a miserable mess. I assure you that type of person has many more problems in his/her own life than you do, and they are insulting or demeaning you to make themselves feel better. You can handle this in either one of two ways: you can simply ignore it, realizing that this person’s opinion has absolutely no meaning in your life; or, you can use the situation and boost your self-confidence by standing up for yourself in whatever way you wish. I don’t recommend assault and battery, although I know it’s tempting at times. (My way usually consists of a few four-letter words, but I’m working on being more bulletproof.)
Coming up in Part 2: Affirmations don’t work for everyone, but they do work.