To be “body positive” means so much more than loving your body. If you saw my last body positivity post, you’ll have seen that it’s a movement to give marginalised bodies a voice. It means rejecting diet culture and refusing to believe what society has taught us about ‘beauty’ and even ‘health’.
In my online life, I consider myself to be body positive. I’m speaking up about issues that I care about, I highlight inspiring people to follow on social media, I work to make my social media feeds more diverse – I have a voice.
In the offline world though, I find it sooooo much harder.
There are times when people comment about the cupcake they’re eating, explaining that being ‘bad’ today. I want to hold their hand and say “Food is not good or bad, you are not good or bad for eating it. Food is just food.”.
Other times someone will kindly tell me how many calories the cupcake has, “Oh don’t worry, it’s only 300 calories”. Inside I’m yelling back – “I’m not worried! I don’t care how many calories it has!”.
But what do I actually do in these scenarios, more often than not? I smile and nod.
When I share my opinions and thoughts online, they are going out into the ether – people can choose to listen or not. People who read my blog or follow me on social media probably know my feelings around food and dieting, and are on the same wavelength.
But when it comes to raising the discussion of body positivity to people who may know nothing about it and are just trying to make a bit of harmless small talk about cupcakes, it’s bloody difficult.
However, just because it’s difficult, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. The more I stay silent, the more ‘normal’ diet chat becomes. And I say this because I am one of MANY who choose the easy option – to stay silent. To become keyboard warriors instead. And we need to bring this into our everyday lives.
So… I want to stop being silent, but without tearing apart a colleague for commenting on office snacks. Because a heated debate over food morality isn’t anyone’s idea of a fun tea break.
Here’s how I intend to respond:
When someone picks up a cupcake/biscuit/whatever and tells me they’re being “bad” today.
- Shake my head and say, nicely “You’re not being bad”.
- Tell them to enjoy it, and that they’re feeding their body.
When someone tells me how many calories there are in the snack I’m eating.
- Explain, politely that I don’t count calories.
- Say “Oh, I’m not worried about that”.
When someone tells me about the new diet they’re starting (wow, is this one hard…)
- Tell them they are amazing exactly how they are.
- Explain, in a kind way, that I’m not really a believer in diets, without lecturing or judging.
Other conversation potholes to avoid:
- Praising someone for losing weight.
- Believing that I could possibly know someone else’s experience.
- Promoting physical health as the holy grail.
I never want to force my views onto someone else, or shame someone for believing what they believe – so I’ll happily have a debate with someone and say “agree to disagree”.
I am however learning that whatever I do, I can’t be silent anymore. How about you?
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