What bigger blow is there to our self image than when our significant other makes a comment like “I can’t believe you ate all that.” Well, maybe there can be bigger blows, but in the heat of the moment, it sure doesn’t feel like it. In honor of the National Eating Disorders Awareness Week theme “Be Comfortable in Your Genes,” here’s my suggestion for how to take charge of these situations. Educate, educate, educate. We need to teach our loved ones how their often innocent and well-meaning comments can wreak havoc on our feelings of self-worth.
Therapist Lydia Hanich in her new book Honey, Does This Make My Butt Look Big? takes on this task with a good dose of humor, which, of course, can be a valuable tool when dealing with a thorny issue like this. The book presents typical questions or statements that can raise hackles and gives ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ answers to each. Hanich also explains why the questions or statements are loaded, to help readers begin to really understand the whys and hows of the situation.
The book also advises loved ones how to react to loaded questions that we may ask. This excerpt from the introduction explains:
“Does this make me look fat?”
You hear these words and freeze in your tracks. You get a sinking feeling in your stomach. What to do? How to answer? Do you lie? Tell the truth? Pretend you didn’t hear? Try to distract her? Your instincts tell you to run. It’s fight or flight, and you’d much rather flee because you’ve stayed for the fight before, and you know you can’t win. With a seemingly simple question, your honey has catapulted you into a complete quandary and rendered you utterly defenseless. You’re cornered, trapped. You’d rather gnaw off a foot than answer that question. Talk about a loaded question! You HATE that question! There’s only one place it has ever led you to: trouble. And there’s been no way out of the trap…until now.
Although Hanich promotes the book for couples, it clearly has utility for anyone with a mother, daughter, sister, friend who struggles with appearance, weight, food or eating. Sadly, at that rate, Hanich has a potential bestseller on her hands.
For a good read to immediately help you with more supportive self-talk (what we say to ourselves has a much bigger impact on us than anything anyone else could say to us), check out our FitBriefing on size and self-acceptance.