10 Tips for Dealing with Weight Stigma and Bullying

weight stigma and bullying drawing of a woman in a multi colored 2 piece bathing suit with her eyes down, brown hair flowing, and smiling

Bullying has been the cause of emotional distress for many, young and old. Weight is just one of the topics that, sometimes inadvertently, becomes the cause of unwanted pressure and uncomfortable attention. Sadly many people experience weight stigma and bullying.

Here are 10 tips to deal with weight stigma and bullying:

1. Become educated about weight stigma and learn to identify it

Like any form of stereotyping or stigma, a comment may even seem well intentioned. To begin eliminating the negativity of weight stigma, the first step is  to identify it and talk about it.

2. Be a critic of media and television when it comes to weight stigma

The media and television often present unrealistic characteristics as ideal and shame normal figures. Talk back to the media, saying to yourself: “That’s not real!” or “It’s not cool to shame someone for having a body.

3. Remember that weight and size are not an indicator of health. 

Research does not support the myth that weight determines health. Likewise, BMI is not a determinant of health. 

4. Distinguish between language about health and weight stigma

Weight loss or healthy eating is very different than weight bias and stigmatizing someone for how they look.

5. Enforce the ways in which you are valuable that have nothing to do with appearance.

Make a list of your strengths and carry a small copy with you as a reminder.

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6. Surround yourself with positive reinforcement.

Affirmations can be helpful too. “Your body is absolutely valuable, right this minute, without change of any kind, simply because it is your home. It is always doing its best for you, no matter what.”

7. Find healthy role models who demonstrate body positive standards.

These role models can be in your personal life, or in the media, or online. There are many inspiring accounts on instagram.

8. Stand up for yourself if you feel compelled to

Whether dealing with weight stigma from health providers or fitness gurus, don’t be afraid to confront them directly. You can use your voice to let them know their comments are hurtful.

9. Recognize that you might not be able to change someone else’s point of view

How someone else acts and believes is out of your control. You can choose to carry yourself with integrity. Remember, you do not have to engage with anyone that feels unsafe and you can excuse yourself from any conversation. Your time and energy is precious and you choose where to spend it.

10.Consider the source

Weight bullying is a form of insecurity itself. We are all living in a culture steeped in judgement of bodies. People who bully are likely struggling with something inside themselves. Compassion goes over a lot better and makes you a stronger person.

Although it’s never easy to face weight stigma or bullying, being prepared and ready to respond can be the biggest empowerment to cope with how people treat you.

Image Source: Pinterest

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