OPEN THREAD: I’m getting body shamed by anti-body shamers

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Cat Mayer Studio Weddings-133
I believe every bride should make body-related choices for themselves. I commend the brides that love their curves. I really am proud of them, but sometimes they make me feel bad for having made my own different choice…

I am getting married this year and, while I love my curves, I want to feel comfortable in my strapless dress — having never showed that much skin in my life. So I made the personal choice to join a gym and eat better. Now I now find myself the recipient of passive aggressive comments from self-proclaimed anti-shamers.

It started with comments like, “You should be proud of your body.” And quickly turned to, “Don't let your mother get to you.” I'm now experiencing quips like, “Well, I love who I am.”

I don't feel like I'm getting support for my choices from the people I need it the most: my fellow curvy brides. How do I express to them that I feel like they are actually shaming me? -ShyBride

What are your favorite ways to let those who mean well know that they're actually making you feel body shamed?

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Comments on OPEN THREAD: I’m getting body shamed by anti-body shamers

  1. It’s always hard when you make a choice that goes against what your “tribe” is currently into. Making a decision to change (or not change) your body is 100% your own decision. The difference between true body positivity and what you are experiencing, is that those who really believe in body positivity believe that your body is your choice. They support and love no matter what you choose. Your body is beautiful and amazing, and if you want to make some changes that is completely up to you. What you are experiencing is body shaming masquerading as body positivity. Phrases like “men want a little cushion” or “only dogs like bones” are not what this body love movement is about.

    You are the best person to make decisions for your own body, and I think you should make that clear. If you aren’t into confrontation (Like me!!) you can say something like “Body Positivity is about love and choice, not shaming others for their choices.” Or… stop talking about your weight loss goals around them at all. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life!

    • It’s always hard when you make a choice that goes against what your “tribe” is currently into.

      Totally that! I’m reminded of this post:
      When your culture is counter-culture: Lovingly explaining your more traditional wedding choices

    • Just ignore them! These kind of people can never appreciate the efforts one takes to improve oneself!

      • Not really loving the use of ‘improve’ here. ‘Change’, yes, ‘reach a point where you are comfortable with and love your body’, yes, but ‘improve’ implies that skinnier is better. Why does everyone always have to take sides on this issue? Why can’t we all just accept that we get to choose how we like our own bodies?

  2. Be firm,letting them know that you’re making these choices for you and no one else. I went crazy trying to lose weight for my wedding, because I was afraid of being a fat bride. I was being supported for the wrong reasons,and gained all the weight back after. I wish I had ignored them, I would have been way less stressed!! There’s nothing wrong with being a fat bride,thin bride,fit bride, etc. You should keep doing what makes you feel good, and reach whatever goals you set for yourself. It’s YOUR wedding, not theirs.

  3. Polite answer: “It might not be the choice you’d go for but it’s the right choice for me. My decisions are just as valid as yours.”

    Less polite answer: “Why do you feel the need to shame my decisions that have no affect on you? Maybe you should think about that.”

  4. I think that this is a really hard internal battle, even without bringing other people into it!
    Passive aggressive behaviour is absolutely the worst, and you shouldn’t have to take any of it. Alas, with weddings, everyone has something to say!

    Good on you for simultaneously wanting to rock your curves and feel good doing it! I think when people hear someone say they want to go to the gym and eat a little better, they instantly think “oh, she’s off to try and lose 20 pounds, BUT WHAT ABOUT HER SHAPELY FIGURE! SHE WON’T LOOK LIKE HERSELF” and go into these weird spirals about information that has zero effect on them. I’m sure their heart is (most of the time..) in the right place, or they might not want to feel abandoned in curvy bride territory and are lashing out. But in the end, you need to do what is write for you and your body, and your wedding. Maybe you do want to shed weight, maybe you’re doing it to clear up your skin, maybe you just want to FEEL healthy and great in your skin, etc. in the end, it’s not their business and don’t let their opinions influence your decision. Not to mention, going to the gym, weight loss or not, is great for boosting confidence!

    You can try stating that you want to build the confidence to rock your shape, or that you’re 98% ready but just want to give yourself that little nudge to be the best version of you. Try to avoid defensive language, you don’t have to defend yourself to anybody for your choices.

    Either way, I bet you’ll look like a goddess!
    (and sorry for my long reply!)

    • So… I recently (like, since last July) lost about 40 pounds. I still look like me! I absolutely hate it when people say that if you lose weight (or change your hair or dress in a different style or put on muscle, or, or, or), you suddenly won’t look like you. Of course you’ll look like you. You ARE you, at any size, and no one has the right to take that away.

  5. I’ve been the entire spectrum of sizes in my adult life. At my heaviest, I was 275 pounds. I decided to lose it and ended up at 120. Along the way, I learned that no matter what size you are, someone will have something to say about it. Heavy? Fat cow. Middling weight? “You would be so hot if you just lost like 10 pounds.” Current weight? “I’m worried you have an eating disorder.” “One cupcake is NOT going to kill you.” *dramatic eyerolls* etc. etc.

    I want to be clear: I love food. I love food so damn much. My passion is baking. I also love running and lifting weights and I keep a relatively firm grip on my eating habits, making sure I eat nutrient-rich greens twice a day and the proper amount of protein to fuel my muscles. My doctor was thrilled with my results and my last bloodwork numbers. My BMI is right smack in the middle of healthy range for my height and build. And yet the comments from friends and family suggesting I had an eating disorder or that I needed to indulge more often because they were really stung and made me question myself and my body.

    My point is, no matter what weight you are, people out there will try to shame you. It can be especially hurtful coming from people you thought had your back. Just keep your chin up and try to remember that they aren’t commenting because you’re doing anything wrong, they’re commenting because they’re insecure that they ARE doing something wrong because you are deviating from their norm. Shaking up routine makes people uncomfortable, especially if they weren’t the ones to initiate it. Their comments are a reflection of their own internal issues. Do what feels right for your body and be proud.

    If someone gives you push-back about it, just calmly lay it out for them: “I’m doing this _because_ I love my body. I could really use your support of my choices rather than undermining them.”

  6. I started taking better care of myself prior to my wedding as well and although I didn’t get too many negative comments from other people for trying to lose some weight I did struggle with myself a little because I didn’t want to be one of “those brides” who starves themselves for their wedding. But really, I wasn’t doing it FOR my wedding, I was doing it because big changes in your life highlight other things you’d like to change. Ever since I got over the self conscious teenager years, I’ve always had a pretty positive body image. However I definitely got to a point where I was being too sedentary and the wedding was a good motivator to change that. You can be happy with and proud of your body and still want it to be stronger or healthier. This is all sounding like justification, and you don’t need to justify yourself to anyway so I’m sorry, I’m getting off track.

    You could say something like “I am proud of my curves, but I’m still making some changes and that’s my decision. I don’t judge your choices, and I’d appreciate you not judging mine. If you can’t support my efforts, then please don’t broach the subject at all.”

    • This! I also started working out before my wedding. But that’s because my upcoming nuptials made me realize that I had gained way more weight than I was comfortable with just because I hadn’t been very active for YEARS! It essentially just kickstarted me into a more active lifestyle again. (and I started lifting weights, which was something I had always wanted to do, but was intimidated by because of the association with “bros”)

    • Yes! I completely stopped running after college, where I had been on the track team competing in the 5k. Going from 40+ miles a week to none had the predictable results on my body, but more importantly I didn’t feel like myself when I wasn’t running. Now I’ve gotten back up to 25ish miles a week. I look basically the same as before, but I feel so much better and more confident knowing that I can run far again. I don’t usually talk about running and wedding cramp in the same conversations though because I don’t want to tie those two together in people’s minds and risk weird body commentary.

  7. Congrats on making some healthy choices! that is REALLY hard. If people give you crap, just say, maybe it was motivated by feeling good in a strapless dress, but ultimately you are committing to your health for a long and vibrant life with your future spouse. I think the idea of fat-shaming or skinny-shaming comes from a place of insecurity on both ends of the spectrum. If you are truly confident on your body, you don’t really care what other people do with theirs.

  8. I wonder if your friends are worried you’ve fallen prey to the whole ‘brides should be skinny’ mantra that is pretty widespread in wedding literature. It might be worth sitting down & having a heart-to-heart with one or two friends that you really just want to be healthier (just that sometimes that also causes weight loss). I also started working out a lot more seriously after I got engaged, I’ve had a couple people mention ‘weight’ but I try to change the conversation to something physical I’ve accomplished instead like ‘Yep, I can do a full handstand now!’ or ‘Yesterday I climbed a rope!’.
    But also maybe practice saying things like ‘Well thanks! I love who I am too!’ or ‘Thank you I am proud of my body!’ or ‘Thanks for the concern, I will not let my mother get to me!’ A simple sentence to show you heard them, and then change the subject to something completely different. ‘Did you see *local sports team* play last week’, ‘Where do you want to eat dinner tonight?’, ‘Want to see a movie on Friday?’ or ‘Wanna see me do a handstand?’

    • Yes. I like to derail commentary on my body’s appearance by reframing the conversation around what it can do and what my goals are. “My millage is back up, so now I’m hoping to speed up my pace to X minutes per mile!”

      • Yes! I think it’s really helpful to make these conversations about health and fitness rather than weight or appearance.
        I come from a weird place on this one. I had some seriously unhealthy eating habits that bordered on a disorder in my younger years. I have a traditional and slightly weight obsessed family, so I spent a lot of my wedding planning days begging dress shops, vendors, and family to SHUT UP about the weight loss. This still makes me weird when other people mention their weight loss. I have a hard time hearing about diets or calorie counting, even the person in question is being healthy and making good choices for them.
        That being said: that is about me and my insecurity. I’ve learned (a little too slowly) to just say “It’s awesome that you’re healthier. I’m really proud of you. Would you mind cutting out the weight loss talk around me. It’s a problem I have and shouldn’t reflect on you at all.”
        Sometimes when people skinny shame, it’s a backlash from all the fat shaming that we’ve had to go through. It can help to really kindly call them on it and just agree not to discuss weight around them. Focus on how healthy you are and how much you both love your bodies 🙂

    • THIS! Said exactly what I was thinking. The mentality that brides “need” to lose weight for their weddings is incredibly ingrained. I went to a wedding fair and it was 30% gyms and personal trainers. I signed up for a gym membership while I was engaged (I was recovering from a running injury and needed equipment to help get strength back) and everyone there couldn’t believe I was not trying to lose weight for my wedding. This is the only website where I’ve seen all bodies celebrated for weddings (you’re the best offbeat!) so your friends are just so used to fighting back against those views. Not that it is okay AT ALL for them to shame you! I agree that a heart to heart is a great way to connect with these friends, so they know you’re doing it for health reasons, not falling into those terrible views, or being pressured into it. After the heart to heart if they continue to shame you, don’t involve them in that aspect of your life, if at all.

      • Not that there’s anything wrong with wanting to lose weight for a wedding, I just don’t like how it’s often framed as NEED to lose weight.

  9. Two things I’ve learned from drastically altering my body:

    1) No one should put any individual down for something as complex and personal as body changes. That’s *just rude*, not to mention presumptuous and unproductive.

    2) Those of us who do change are bodies should be thoughtful about how we talk about it to others. It’s one thing to want to spill to my nearest and dearest about some intense new weight loss regimen/hair straightening/surgery I’m undergoing. It’s another thing to fish for compliments on my new appearance with wide audiences. Because that very easily can – in an unintentional way – amount to pressure on those who haven’t made the same choice. And if I allow marginalizing comments about the old way I looked to go unchallenged, then I am allowing body-shaming to go unchallenged.

    When it comes to body image, shame is only avoided when both sides are open to considering the other’s perspective.

  10. I would say just be straight. In almost every body, there are insecurities found, even if they are brief and fleeting. Tell them that they are making you feel body-shamed.

    Body-shaming can go a lot of ways, maybe these people do not understand it. Six years ago, I was 110lbs at 5’4, now I am 150lbs at 5’4. Then, I was asked if I had been starving myself. Now, I get asked by the same people if my working out has the ultimate goal of getting thin again. No to both. It took me telling these people (finally, lately) that their comments made me feel bad. They never realized what they said could come across that way.

  11. While I fully Support everyones individual choices about their bodies, I’m going to voice a not so popular angle. Now, I obviously don’t know what triggered the other persons reactions and I don’t know how open or vocal you are about your decisions concerning your Body Change.
    As a fat bride, I react really badly to anyone who keeps telling me about their decisions to Change. It makes me feel weak and unworthy, because I don’t do the same. This would trigger exactly that Kind of answers from me as described in the opening thread. I understand that this is obviously my Problem, but I also want to Point out that it’s a terrible cycle of Body shaming that is very hard to break.
    Like I said – I do not know you or your circumstances, I just wanted to Point out the other side.
    It’s a tough Topic and Body shaming – both ways! – is a Problem that’s really hard to tackle.

    • I made this same conclusion, too, but perhaps with different advice results.
      It sounds as though your friends may be projecting. The older I get, the more I recognize that people do this about everything: my marriage, my divorce, my choices about kids, my job – people most often project their own fears and insecurities in the guise of unsolicited advice/comments about my own life. Knowing why they’re doing this is actually a huge help because who doesn’t struggle with slight (or major) insecurities? So to me – it sounds as though some of your friends are NOT fully comfortable with their own weight, but are fighting the good fight to be so in this harsh thin-obsessed society. If they were truly 100% fat or body positive (a process that can take years), whatever you did with your own body wouldn’t affect them in the slightest. I find this knowledge useful and a door to being compassionate. The next time you get a comment of “Well, iiiiii’m comfortable in my own body, ” realize: it’s probably not 100% true, or that person wouldn’t have felt the need to say it to you in response to something about YOUR own body. It may be 98% true, but you saying you’re changing triggered that defensive 2% that needed to get out and reassert that person’s values. In short, it’s their issue, not yours. If you find the need to say anything, I would simply ask, “Why did you just say that?” and see what they say. (Sometimes a “why” question is enough to make people realize what they’re doing.) Then perhaps follow up with “I’m fully aware of the societal pressures to lose weight and I disapprove of them. This is different, and I’d like your support even if you can’t fully accept my decisions.”

      • I have also dealt with this issue and I think positive reinforcement always works wonders. I agree with all reasoning above so I won’t reiterate but I will say I have had a lot of success with always reassuring someone that they are great however they want to be. If they do the fun, “well I’m perfectly fine being big” I personally choose the encouraging “And you should be! You look freaking fantastic no matter what, this is just something I want to do for me”
        We all feel judged and ridiculed so often I don’t like to “toss the judgement back” by making them feel bad for what they’ve said to me, but rather reassure them that their choices are just as valid as mine and they have no reason to feel insecure.

  12. It seems like they’re stance is one of “you’re doing this because of external pressures”. To convince them this is something YOU are doing, by solitary choice, not reflective of self-hate, or anything, I’d recommend taking the focus off weight loss and putting it on strength training. Things like “I want to be fit enough to hurtle my bouquet 30 yards” or “We’re planning to dance all night, and I want to have the constitution to do it without breathing heavy”, that focus on a gain (of strength) tend to be more supported. You may be surrounded by gals who don’t want to lose weight, but who wouldn’t want to be able to dance for 3 hours straight on the best day of their coupledom?

  13. Why do you need their approval again? They are not your support system they are haters. Seek support from people you actually love. Internet people can suck it. If you truly feel you need an online support system join some fitness or weightloss groups and leave curvy bride groups. Bye bye bitches.

  14. I don’t know enough about your situation, but I think they could maybe (just maybe) question your motivation.
    I think it’s a good choice to live healthier, but this should not be about your wedding, this should be about your life. I would also also ask (stupid) questions about your weight loss, if I doubt why you’re doing it.
    Maybe instead of saying “I want to feel comfortable in my strapless dress” start saying “I want to feel comfortable in myself and everything I wear.”.
    I’m currently trying to eat healthier and work out more. But I want it to be a permanent change. It’s a commitment for life. And guess what? I already feel better with myself.

  15. To the other commenters: it sounds like part of the problem for this bride is that for her it’s actually NOT about fitness or health. She says it’s about feeling comfortable on her wedding day showing some skin in a strapless dress. She is still happy to be relatively curvy, but she wants to change that curviness in some way that has to do with appearance.

    So all of the commenters who are saying that she should make clear that it’s really about fitness and health and the “good” reasons for wanting to join a gym or change one’s diet are actually inadvertently joining in on the shaming just a little bit. They’re implying that the reason she actually gives in the post – the “bad” reason of wanting to look a certain way for your wedding – needs to be hidden.

    To the bride: But you know what? It’s okay to want to look a certain way for your wedding! It’s okay to decide that for this day, it’s more important to you that you get to relax because you feel like you look extra good, rather than fighting against all of complex emotions about unjust social definitions of “looking good.” It’s hard and stressful sometimes to work on feeling happy in the skin you have right now. If the decision to change how you look a little bit is right for you, then you should go for it and be happy and proud of it – even if it has NOTHING to do with health and fitness! It’s okay!

    That said, when you make this decision, you are subscribing to some social ideas that self-proclaimed “fat advocates” are working very hard to refuse and dismantle. Your sense that you would be more comfortable in a strapless dress if you go to a gym and change some eating habits is a result of the subtle shaming that happens in society all the time, and online communities are for many people a place where they can explicitly reject that shaming. Those communities are also where they can commiserate about how HARD it is to stand up to social pressure all the time, and how hard it is to try to love yourself exactly as you are in the face of a world that tells you that you shouldn’t. When you say that you want to go to the gym and eat better to look better in a strapless dress, you are saying that for your wedding day, standing up to that pressure is too hard, so you’d rather conform. And that’s really okay for you to do, but it’s not super supportive to the people who have committed to work very hard to stand up to it all the time.

    So I guess I’m saying that if your curvy friends in real life are making snarky comments, you could explain that they’re shaming you. But if you’re going into online fat-activism or fat-support communities – or if you’re already active in those communities – and you’re saying that you want them to support you in your weight loss for your wedding day, you’re (and I say this as gently as possible here) in the wrong. The purpose of those communities is explicitly opposite to your goals, and if they being less than sensitive to you it is only in an attempt to protect their safe space. They are rejecting the standards that you are using, and if you feel that this means they are rejecting you, it is an unfortunate side effect of a choice you are making – it’s not them shaming you.

  16. For me, I know that working out makes me feel awesome, and feel like I look awesome – even if there has been *zero* change in appearance. It sounds like ShyBride is working out for the same reason, as she never once mentions losing weight or even changing appearance – just wanting to feel comfortable.

    It’s sad that focusing on our health gets met with assumptions that it’s all about losing weight. In my opinion, true body positivity should absolutely celebrate going to the gym and eating better, as this bride is doing. Hello – my body is AWESOME… look at the weights it can lift! Look at how I’m loving it by feeding it real healthy fuel! Look at how it’s responding to the challenges I’m giving it! Look how freaking strong I am! These things should be celebrated, not criticized.

    Much love to ShyBride – you do you, girl, and rock that sexy, hardworking, strong and gloriously curvy bod on your wedding day <3

  17. I didn’t choose to diet for my wedding last year. That was great for me.
    My brother in law recently got engaged and his fiance is choosing to diet. Her diet is super strict… I don’t think I’d be able to do it. But she’s done it before and she isn’t starving herself. It’s early and she says she’s going to wait to look for her dress because she doesn’t know what size she’ll end up. It doesn’t seem to be something she’s stressed about. Truthfully, I don’t think I would discourage her from her diet (it does suck when she misses out on yummy treats) but if she does stress about it, I hope I can encourage her to make the right choice for herself.
    Really, she’s going to be georeous on her wedding day no matter what size she ends up because she’ll be super happy. 🙂

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