Last night, I went out for part of my friend Amanda’s bachelorette festivities. She’s an excellent singer, so we went to a karaoke bar and had a great time dancing and singing along with everyone on stage. At one point in the night, though, someone commented on how she couldn’t take off her jacket because her arms weren’t “summer-ready”—she didn’t think they were toned enough. Another woman in our group who was wearing a sleeveless dress chimed in about how she had “hello-goodbye” arms. After she waved hello, she explained, her arm fat kept moving, waving goodbye. We all laughed—after all, body shaming often serves as a social lubricant for women, as Mean Girls so poignantly illustrated when it came out 10 years ago—but I didn’t like the direction the conversation was heading.
Normally, I would have just followed suit and talked about about how I’d gained a few pounds since the last time I’d worn the dress I’d chosen for the night—and how I felt like I had lumps in all the wrong places because of it. But this time I decided to try something different. I told everyone that, as someone who writes about self-esteem and body shaming on a regular basis, I felt obligated to say that I thought we shouldn’t be talking about what we hate about our bodies—that if we were going to talk about them, we should be focusing on what we appreciate about them, particularly since everyone in the group was (and is!) so beautiful.
I’m not quite sure how the other girls felt about my comment—but I can tell you that no one criticized their bodies aloud after that. And I, for one, felt proud of myself for stopping the cycle of body shaming, rather than using that moment as an opportunity to harp on my own figure (not to mention make the other women there feel like they should be harping on theirs).
Have you ever spoken out against body shaming among your friends? What did you say? And how did they react? And if you haven’t, I hope maybe you’ll at least think about saying something the next time you find yourself in the middle of a self-bashing fest. I can say from firsthand experience that it’s pretty liberating!
photo via Blisstree