How To Stay Body-Positive During The Holidays When You Have A Judgy Family
Don't let the haters get you down.
You know what I love about the holiday season? All the opportunities relatives have to make sexist comments about my body and how much I am or am not eating -- which is especially fun when there's food everywhere and we're all eating until our guts burst.
Nah, I'm totally kidding. It's literally the worst! If you have a rude Uncle Ron in your life who thinks it's funny to poke your belly and "joke" about how pregnant you look, first off, I'm so sorry, and two, here's how to not let his inappropriate remarks kill your vibe.
1. Prepare rote responses to rude questions.
Prepare a few short, to-the-point responses to common sexist comments to trot out when needed. A concise explanation as to why body policing is harmful may be met with a few confused stares, but your words may also end up inspiring someone you didn't even know was listening. Also, it'll shut the conversation down.
2. Decide that nobody can ruin your evening.
If you're anything like me, you've surrounded yourself with so many awesome people, that you may have forgotten what it's like to be around people who aren't super positive rays of sunshine. Take a little time prior to arrival to mentally prepare yourself for dealing with a lot of potentially negative viewpoints, and make the decision to not let it ruin your evening if you can help it.
3. Wear something you feel confident in.
Now is the perfect time to break out your favorite dress. When you feel confident in how you look, it's much harder to get down on yourself, even after consuming pounds of stuffing. Whether your power outfit is a fun skirt or a much-loved t-shirt, throw it on and give yourself +10 confidence instantly.
4. Be a positive person.
Instead of letting other people set the mood, do it yourself. Be the first to compliment someone else or say something encouraging after they update the table on how they're doing. If the mood starts to get weird and/or judgmental, change the subject to something positive, like how much you love Aunt Deb's cooking or how proud you are of your niece for following her dreams of being an artist. Don't let the Negative Nanciess rule the conversation.
5. Pick your battles wisely.
Nothing brings out the body police like a big, intergenerational family meal. That being said, even if an opportunity to school someone arises, don't feel like you have to engage even if you aren't feeling up to a debate. If it's someone who you know isn't interested in listening, it may be best to just roll your eyes and focus your attention on something else. Your time and energy is valuable, and you get to decide who and what you spend it on.
6. Don't join in on diet talk.
You know when people are like, 'OMG, I'm so bad!' because they're like, eating a piece of cheesecake or something? There's the expectation to be like, 'Oh I know, this'll go straight to my thighs, I hate myself,' but you don't have to play that game.
For many women, obsessing about food and weight is a big part of the bonding process, but you don't have to join in on any negative self-talk you may hear. Your life isn't going to be irrevocably changed if you eat a piece of cake; seriously, it's just dessert. Don't make meals a battlefield. (Brb, putting that on a shirt.)
7. Don't doubt yourself.
When you're surrounded by people who all think the same, it's easy to feel like maybe there's something wrong with you if you don't think the way they do. Spoiler: there isn't. There's something wrong with society, not with the act of loving yourself. Don't doubt yourself or your body positive stance just because other people are still sipping the Kool-aid.
8. Remember that everyone has their own battles.
What other people say about you is usually a reflection of their own issues. That aunt making snide comments about how "different" you look and how it must "be nice not to care" is probably struggling with her own body and self-image in ways you know nothing about. People who are truly happy with who they are tend not to give a single sh*t about someone else's body.
Does this mean you should take anyone's crap? No, not at all. But remembering that what people say isn't always about you can take some of the sting away if harsh words are flung your way.
9. Check out early.
If you have a really toxic family, then this may be something to consider. If you don't feel good about ditching family dinner altogether (and you want that free food, no shame!) then there's nothing wrong with limiting the amount of time you spend with negative people.
As a personal philosophy, I think it's always a good idea to end your day on a positive note if you can, so try to plan some nice after-dinner activities for yourself, like debriefing over the phone with friends or unwinding with wine and a good soak in the tub. Treat yourself!