Okay so…many of you may not know that I’ve personally dealt with a Fatphobic Grandmother my entire life.
*Let me add in that the definition of Fatphobia is explained as the fear and dislike of obese people and/or obesity. This article highlights Fatphobia perfectly. Read it if ya get a chance!*
Though I’ve always had supportive and accepting parents, every time I have encountered my Grandmother, I’m immediately reminded of how “inadequate” I am and the amount of weight she believes I “need to lose”. Each and every time I see her, my weight is a topic of conversation (no matter if I’ve gained or lost), she feels the need to tell me what’s “healthy” for me, and scorns me with judgmental eyes as I eat a piece of my own birthday cake. In all honesty, this has messed with my self-esteem greatly over the years. I remember thinking to myself, as if it’s not enough being reminded that I’m fat in school or in society, but I can’t even go to a family get-together without her hating on me?! COME ON. Trust me when I say…this relationship has been incredibly painful over the years. Family is meant to be the one group of people who love you unconditionally, but in reality, it’s the one’s who love us the most that can be the most critical and can tear down our self-worth.
With all of this being said, I wanted to share a recent story of how I stood up for myself and told Grandma exactly how I felt in regard to her incessant distain towards those who are overweight. I manifested upon an opportunity to not only advocate for myself but also for others coping with Fatphobic people in life. Spoiler alert…I’ve never been more proud of myself! Here’s the story:
It didn’t take long for her to dance upon the subject as we all sat gathered for Christmas Eve traditions. She looked at my sister (also a woman who has experienced weight fluctuations throughout her life) and asked, “so…what are you doing for exercise? You know it’s really healthy for you and will make you feel good.” (as if she’s an idiot and doesn’t know that *rolls eyes*) My sister began to become flushed in the face and nervously stuttered the words, “uhh I walk to class and sometimes take classes at the gym”. She hung her head low and it was clear that the shame had already begun to set in. It was in that moment that I knew in my core I had to say something. I’m not sure what snapped in me, but I had, had it. I then looked at my Grandmother and said, “you know Grammy, the questions about how much we exercise or what healthy foods we’ve been eating are getting kind of old. I wish that wasn’t your priority topic to discuss.” She then looked at me with confusion in her eyes and immediately became defensive. She explained that she, “only asked out of love and curiosity. You know health is important and I care about you.” (Mind you, this is coming from a lady who truly has no idea who I am, what I value, or how I see myself) I then went on to explain to her that although I respected her interest in “helping” and “caring about us”, I constructively used this opportunity to explain to her that unsolicited health advice not only insinuates that you believe I’m not healthy, but it also leaves the impression that you believe I need to lose weight or I’m not enough in my current state. She became very defensive and told me it’s my problem that I can’t take criticism well. I then looked at her and said, “did you ever consider that I actually love the way I look and embrace my body and health for what it is in this very moment?” She continued with her confused glare, leaving the impression that she couldn’t even fathom that I’d be happy with the way I look at my current weight. I explained to her that soliciting unwanted health advice is most certainly unwanted when directed towards me and my sister, and also, it’s not her place to tell someone how they should live or what they should look like. I used my proud voice to encourage my Grandma and stated, “I would like to think that you’re able to accept people for who they are and what they want to be in the world. I know you would want nothing but that in your own life, so please, if you can, show your granddaughters the same amount of respect and support. Just because I am fat doesn’t mean I’m unhealthy, a bad person, or I’m unloveable.” We left the conversation with the understanding that we both agree to disagree, but she did commit to no longer asking my sister and me details about our weight and/or exercise plan.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt more empowered in my life, internally I felt about as close to channeling my inner Beyonce as ever lol. I can’t tell you how long I’ve wanted to express my feelings toward my grandmother’s Fatphobia and her lack of support throughout my life, but it’s better to be said late than never! I felt as if I finally stood up to one of my life-long bullies, and I did so in a way that constructively got my points across with finesse and passion. Fatphobia is heartbreakingly real and something obese people experience on a daily basis. My message is simple: whatever you do, don’t let anyone tell you what to do or how to look without your consent.
This past week, one of my favorite body positive Instagram pages (@effyourbeautystandards) re-posted a photo that I believe truly encompasses exactly what I needed my Grandma and all other Fatphobic people to understand.
Essentially, I told this story as a way to encourage each and every one of you reading to USE YOUR VOICE. Speak up and stand for what’s right in the world. If you feel negatively about the way someone has been treating you, or something someone says doesn’t sit right with you, or even you have the opportunity to educate someone, SAY SOMETHING!! You’re worthy of fighting for what you believe in and advocating for your needs. This is a major component to self-care and the journey to love yourself.
This week I hope you love and empower yourself throughout each and every opportunity life may provide you, and as always, be good and do good!