“It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me. Who will condemn me?” (Isaiah 50:9 (NIV).
Kids can be cruel to each other. I remember receiving my share of cruel insults like being called “monkey.” I could give out insults as good as I took them too.
One insult we gave out to fat girls was “Fatty, fatty two-by-four, can’t get through the kitchen door.” The fat girl we insulted seemed to always go around with her head down ashamed of her body. She was constantly bullied.
In education, fat students (from kindergarten right through to higher level university) are often the victims of bullying and are often viewed negatively or treated with less respect by teachers. And, students are about as bad. They often make snide comments about oversized teachers in the halls and lunchrooms.
I’m thankful for anti-bullying rules in schools today. There are consequences for speaking cruel insults now. But, bullying still occurs. I know, I’m a retired school teacher and have witnessed it’s effects on kids. At least today, the bullied child has an advocate in the anti-bullying rule. Still, fat kids are one of the most common targets for cruel taunting.
On the other hand, for adults, there are no anti-bullying rules for bullying like there are for sexual harassment.
Weight stigma and fatphobia in our society see a certain type of body as a person undeserving of respect. A fat body is seen as disgusting and as something to be made into a joke.
This short clip from an old John Candy movie illustrates more than words can say. He died in 1994 from a heart attack at age 43.
Fat-shaming hurts and is no laughing matter. It wounds the deepest part of our emotions. I’ve read in my Facebook weight loss groups how a husband fat-shamed his wife. The lady posted that she burst into tears when he called her a “fat cow.” It was her most vulnerable area, and her husband knew it would hurt her deeply.
Fat-shaming is rejection. It is rejecting not only your body, but it also rejects you as a person. The resulting shame and guilt are like a punch in the mouth.
It’s good to acknowledge the hurt from fat-shamers – even to cry it out. But, you can’t let it shut you down. Know who you are. Know your identity in Christ. He lives and affirms you just the way you are. See my blog posts to learn who we are in Christ.
True, God wants us healthy and by His grace, power, and our self-control which is a gift of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians+5%3A22-23
We can lose weight and get healthy. The key, I think, is to not let food control us, but rather that we control food.
Don’t let negative talk stop you in your tracks. And for goodness sake, don’t talk negatively about yourself. When you look in the mirror, don’t run yourself down. Instead, be positive.
Often we fat people say to ourself, “I’ve got to lose weight!” Well, that kind of talk gets us nowhere. It’s better to say, “I’m going to do something about my excessive weight. I’m going to start eating healthy, avoid binging at night, and start walking. Then do it!
We all struggle with hard feelings toward ourself, but we can’t let those feelings cloud our thinking. There’s plenty of positive in each of us. Play up the positive. Play down the negative.
Stop seeing through the lens of rejection because you are fat. That only compounds the hurt and continues the downward spiral of emotional eating in an attempt to feel better. And remember, when we emotionally eat to kill our pain, the pain killer ALWAYS produces more pain. Always! You can’t eat away your unhappiness and depression.
Instead of allowing the negative feelings about your body define and label you, decide to focus on God and His promises of good things. “Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered in shame” (Psalm 34:5).
Remember too that our God is a merciful God. Mercy means He gives us good that we don’t deserve. This means that today’s disappointment and failure to eat properly is making room for tomorrow’s success. We need to stop beating ourselves up over failure. God doesn’t beat us up nor does He condemn us for our failures. He stands with us, lifting us up, forgiving us, and encouraging us to press on. Know that God in His mercy will give us His the gift of self-control. Ask Him for it.
Remember that God’s voice is not a condemning voice. It’s full of hope, strength, encouragement, and comfort (1 Corinthians 14:3).
Moreover, when we listen to God’s booming voice, it drowns out the shamers who are quick to point out our faults leaving us feeling condemned when we listen to their carping. God speaks love to us. Listen to His voice, and your whole negative perception about yourself will change to a perception of affirmation and acceptance.
When we think bad things about ourself and engage in negative self-talk, that determines what we believe about ourself instead of what God thinks about us.
For example, if you think you’re ugly, you’re ugly. If you think you’re no good and worthless, you are. If you think you’re hopelessly fat, you are.
Thinking affects our emotions. Shame and feeling condemned are emotions. Emotions lie. We must replace those lies with God’s truth.
Instead of feeling condemned because of stinking thinking, replace that with God’s truth that He accepts and loves us!
Lysa TerKeurst, best selling Christian author, confesses her battles with fat-shamers. She writes, “Being told that I should take smaller portions of food or having people assume that I was incapable of doing certain things because of my weight was not only rude, but it also took a huge toll on my self-esteem. What hurt even more was how some people, including my own friends, would use the word “fat” like it was an insult. It even got to a point where I started to believe that I looked unattractive because of my size. But thankfully, I eventually realized that someone’s size does not measure their beauty or their worth. I learned that, in spite of what society may think, you can be both fat and fabulous.
“It’s so unfortunate that most clothing stores mainly cater to people who are very thin.
I, as a life-long fat person, have been the target of weight stigma and fatphobia ever since I can remember, only I had no idea that what I was experiencing was a form of prejudice. I figured I deserved it, since I was fat and all. Then, a few years ago, I was introduced to the world of fat activism and body acceptance. That was when I learned about weight stigma and fatphobia, and it completely changed my world.
“Weight stigma in general refers to negative attitudes and behavior towards fat people. These type attitudes and behaviors mean fat people are not able to participate in every day society the same way that thinner people are. It is theoretically similar to gender stigmatisation affecting people of minority genders, except here it is happening to fat people.”
Those who allow fat-shamers to get to them have higher rates of depression, anxiety, and social isolation. They have a two to three times higher chance of engaging in suicidal thoughts and behaviors and higher rates of engaging in dangerous weight loss fads and binge eating behaviors.
So, how do you change your bad thinking about your body? How do you deal with fat-shamers?
1. As I’ve already discussed, listen to the voice of God instead of your negative self-talk.
2. Learn to appreciate your body. I know that this could very well sound ridiculous. Self-criticism comes from several causes. Our culture overemphasises physical appearances. It can put great pressure on us and nourishes the feeling of not being worthy enough if we allow it!
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to appreciate our body. The Scripture teaches that we are wonderfully made by God. If you have spent years and years hating your body, and have the additional issue of being fat-shamed, then learning to appreciate your body is going to take some time. But it can be done. Trust me.
3. Call out people and set boundaries. This is much easier said than done, but you need to stand your ground. You are, above all else, a human being created in the image of God. You deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. If somebody in your family or circle of friends says something cruel and mean about your obesity or being overweight, tell them about it. And when you do, practice self-control so that you respond and not react. That’s setting your boundary. Don’t let others invade your space!
You can simply say “Listen, saying that makes me uncomfortable. Please don’t do it again.” If they are good people and they respect you, they will stop their offensive behavior. If they don’t stop saying unkind words, feel free to remind them again and again. If they continue being disrespectful, you might want to consider my next point.
6. Cut disrespecting people out of your life. Try and surround yourself with safe people who accept and affirm you as a person. That’s not always possible especially if you work around toxic people or have toxic family members. But outside of work, you can choose your friends even though you can’t choose your family! You do have some control over who you surround yourself with.
7. Never compare yourself with others. Instead, celebrate what makes you, you.
This means to stop comparing yourself to somebody else’s body like a movie star’s body. The movie star bodies are not real. Many have had plastic surgery. The tummy tucks, breast implants, butt lifts, and air brushed images make them like look like a million dollars. Remember, in their profession, they have to look good, young, and sexual no matter what the cost is.
But, that’s not attainable for us. Have you ever read what these ladies eat? It’s barely enough to keep the cat alive as my grandmother used to say.
And what about the actors that have rock-hard abs and bulging biceps. Shoot, I’ve never had those and never will. My hair has turned loose. I’m a fat old bald-headed man. But, I’m still proud of my body and trying to shape it up a little by walking and swimming. I need to lose 50 pounds to reach my goal weight of 180 pounds. It’s going to take a lot longer than I thought, but I’m trudging along.
You can’t be anybody else. You are you. You can’t be them. So, you really just have to start embracing yourself and accepting your so-called flaws. It’s our body, our patchwork quilt. Love it!
No body is perfect. Stop with the comparisons. You are who you are, and your body is what it is. Be proud of who you are and your body that houses you.
Granted, I don’t know of too many people that couldn’t use some improvement. After all, the biggest room in the house is the room for improvement. True, your body might need some home improvement. It might need a makeover. But whatever is wrong with it, it’s nothing that can’t be fixed over time and effort.
I weigh every morning. That way, I can analyze why I gained some or lost some. For example, we recently went to Applebee’s with friends. I fell off the wagon. I gained 3.7 pounds from the previous morning. I stepped back and realized that their food was loaded with a truckload of salt and that I had ordered and eaten unhealthy food. But, I know this can be fixed with time and effort. It’s discouraging for sure, but I also know that I am so much more than that number on the scales. You are too!
That added weight doesn’t define who I am. It just tells me that I ate the wrong food and too much of it. It doesn’t represent who I am or who you are. It doesn’t have any bearing on our worth. The number might go up and it might go down, but that won’t have any bearing on who we are in Christ.
In fact, that number staring back at us from the scale is totally irrelevant to who we are if you think about it.
The way we look right now is temporary. We change in our appearance. I’ve changed from young and slim with a head of black hair to old and fat with no hair! We all change. Father time sees to that.
If you’re unhappy with what you see when you look in the mirror, there’s nothing stopping you from deciding to do some home improvement and and fix it. Of course, there are some things about our body we can’t fix. I won’t be growing a new head of hair any time soon!
Often, fat people think being skinny will miraculously solve all of our problems.
There might be a part of you that thinks if only I could lose 10, 20, or 50 pounds, everything would fall into place and my life would be awesome.
I hate to break it to you, but aside from looking better in skinny jeans, you won’t feel all that different because how you feel is 90% related to your thoughts and inner belief system.
Nobody has the power to make you feel unworthy or inferior unless you let them.
There will always be an endless amount of criticizers and haters just waiting to pick you apart and dampen your spirit. But, the truth is that no one’s opinions or judgements of you amount to a hill of beans.
It doesn’t matter. Life is too short to waste it worrying about what other people are thinking or saying about you.
What’s the first thing you see when you look in the mirror? Is it your FLAWS? We always see what is wrong, and the negative self-talk begins. Our flaws are usually what others see when they look at us too. It’s rare to see people’s assets and rare to see our assets. As Pogo said, “I have met the enemy, and he is us!
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