I was recently asked if I knew anyone who had received comments on her weight from strangers.
My answer was, “Who hasn’t?” I have heard comments about my weight and size for as long as I can remember. When I was in kindergarten, I was the tallest kid in the class. Naturally, my nickname was “Jolly Green Jennifer.”
Then, right when I hit puberty, my weight obsession began, and it was a total rollercoaster for at least ten years. But about ten years ago, I changed my life and lost over 125 pounds. Still, the comments keep coming, no matter what I weigh.
I remember times when strangers asked me when I was due and I wasn’t even pregnant. Once, when I was grocery shopping, a little boy asked me if he could rub my belly. His mother just laughed and said, “Never mind him, he thinks you’re pregnant.” I was much younger, and super-sensitive back then, so naturally I was shocked at her response to him.
Still, to this day, almost daily I encounter someone commenting on my weight! The ironic thing is, while some interpret me as being thin, others may think I’m not thin enough. It’s actually quite funny.
Just yesterday my husband and I took our baby out to buy some plants. The cashier asked me how I stay so thin. Later in the afternoon, I went into a clothing store, and the sales girl said to me, “We have great tops that will hide your waistline!”
And I hadn’t even changed my outfit.
I’ve learned you’ve absolutely got to love yourself no matter what shape or size you are, and then the comments don’t matter! It’s not about weight—we are so much more than numbers. It’s about nurturing our bodies, spirits, and minds while practicing self-care. Once I loved myself I was better able to take care of myself, because after all, if you don’t love something you definitely don’t nurture it the same way.
Thank goodness I don’t take people’s remarks seriously anymore. Now I just smile back at them. It’s not easy at first, but I promise once you truly love yourself from the inside out, you’ll smile back, too. In the meantime, here are some tips for dealing with this type of thing:
Inquire, Don’t Fire Back!
Being curious is always a good thing. Asking questions opens up your mind to what others are thinking. When someone says something that doesn’t feel right or kind to you, ask them about it. Try simple questions, like “What do you mean by that?” or “Why do you ask?” This allows the person to explain what they actually mean. I’m sure we’ve all put our foot in our mouths at some point and would have loved the opportunity to explain, so give others that opportunity. And even if their intention was negative, then at least you kept a positive, open mind!
Realize Sometimes It’s Just Your Interpretation
Haven’t you ever read into something and realized later you were completely wrong? When our self-esteem is low, we tend to look for negative comments and assume everything is meant to hurt us. I distinctly remember being in the gym locker room watching girls laugh and totally assuming they were laughing at me. I felt awful all day, until I later learned they were laughing at a comment scratched into the locker! Remember, if you look for negativity, you will always find it, even if it doesn’t truly exist.
Kill Them with Kindness
By smiling, being gracious, and saying “thank you,” you are not allowing others to define you. Only you can define you. It can feel difficult to not immediately get offended or hurt. But by staying strong, you won’t allow other people’s stress or negativity in. All energy is contagious, so why not pass along your positive energy?
I wanted to share these stories with you, so the next time a complete stranger, casual acquaintance, or even a close friend says something upsetting to you, you can wipe off the offense and even smile. Life’s too short to worry about this stuff anyway, right?