I have heard several comments lately about people opening their mouths and saying whatever they want about a person's body, without considering their feelings. In this episode I'm looking at typical things people say to complement people in bigger bodies that aren't really compliments, what words you can use to describe a fat person (for example are words like fat and obesity ok to use?), how we can start changing the verbal environments we are in, and what we can say to compliment people without referring to their body.
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Please note, this podcast is intended to be general information for entertainment purposes only. Please see a registered professional before adopting significant dietary or other lifestyle changes.
It's a Friday night. I'm sat here talking to you with a little bit of peace and quiet a little glass of wine. It's just lovely. It's that kind of weather where it's been hot and the sun has gone down, but you still got the doors and windows open so there's a nice little breeze coming through. Just chilled. My husband has gone out to a comedy night for his friend's birthday. There's nobody else around. Oh, it's just lovely.
Do you want an update on my clothes that I was talking about last week? You know, I went clothes shopping. So turns out I tried to the clothes on that I'd bought from the shop that didn't have changing rooms or any clothes to fit me and I ended up actually keeping a couple of pairs of trousers. So that's good. This week, I also ordered some clothes. I'm going to sing their praises. From yours clothing. I ordered a stack of stuff and it arrived all nice and neatly packaged. And then when I tried it on it's all fit. It's amazing. It all fit. So now, now I have the opposite problem. Cause I ordered a lot of stuff. Can I afford to keep it all? I don't really know.
I've got some blouses for work. Because I needed some new stuff for work, and I've got some trousers, and they've got some just nice casual summary tops and things. Now I have to decide whether to send any of it back.
It's like, It's like a pendulum. How does it go from one extreme to the other? How have I gone from having nothing to where to this big choice of clothing, which I now have to decide whether I'm going to keep or not, because do I pay for it or not is basically what it means.
Hm. They're really nice though. I'm really pleased with them. Yours clothing. You've done a brilliant job. Thank you. Thank you very much. A really good range, really good sizes. True fit. Oh, I'm really pleased with it.
Nothing else is really happening this week. Nothing to really tell you about anyway.
Tonight. Let me tell you before I started recording this, I was watching a bit of TV. And there was an advert. I've never seen this advert before, but this advert started with a dog bouncing up and down on some bathroom scales. And he's jumping on the scales and jumping on the scales and jumping on the scales and then the narrator says that they can't make dieting any easier, but they can make straightening your teeth easier. Now tell me. Since when has teeth had anything to do with weight? Why would a company who is promoting a gloriously white and straight to smile link that to dieting.
Why. We can't make dieting any easier. But we can make straightening your teeth easier. I'm actually disgusted by the advert of all the things in the world they could have picked on. As something they couldn't make easier. That's what they chose. We can't make repairing your car at the roadside any easier, but we can make straightening your teeth easy.
See, see how easy it is to come up with an alternative. I literally just thought of that.
So there we go. Another example of diet culture in our lives where it's not welcome.
Okay. This week I have a question for you. What if we all spoke our minds? What if we all said the things that are going round in our heads. I mean, we all do that thing. Don't we. We're all annoyed by somebody. And we all think bad things about that person. But we don't dare say it out loud.
On the whole. There are people though in life. That will go ahead and say whatever they feel like saying without a second thought for how the other person will feel.
On the whole, we do all kind of keep our mouths in check don't we. But there's always the people that just can't manage that and even the people who are trying to keep their mouths in check. Sometimes don't say the right thing. And without meaning to offend us they have done.
Sometimes it's seen as a compliment, but I guess it depends what stage of your life you're at, what you're trying to achieve at that time, what the compliment is aimed at, you know, that sort of thing. Once upon a time, I was at a barbecue and I'd lost quite a significant amount of weight. I was probably at the lowest I've ever been and I'm saw somebody at this barbecue that I hadn't seen for a very long time and he said all right Terri, how are you? Oh, oh, You look ummm, you look, you look great. And, and off you went. And then somebody said, what it means is you've lost a lot of weight and you look fit.
And you know, that was worth a chuckle but he didn't quite know what to say. He was trying to acknowledge that I'd lost this weight and he didn't really know what to say about it. So he just ended up saying, you look great. Which is fine. That genuinely is a fine compliment. Hadn't seen me for a while. Hello. How are you? You look great. How are you doing kind of a thing? Perfectly acceptable. But, there are other people who can't quite manage that.
I've heard a few different things lately. About situations. About comments.
About things that have happened that are just actually not okay and it's about time that people address this and started to learn what is okay, and what is not okay to say. For example, I know somebody who had seen somebody that they hadn't seen for awhile and she was already self-conscious about her size, and the changes that had happened in her body over lockdown, and through not doing the usual kind of training and not living the lifestyle that she usually lives. And she was greeted by this person who openly commented on it. And I won't say the actual comments, because I think that give away who it is to some people so I won't go that far, but there were comments about the possible amount of food that she might've eaten.
Comments like that.are enough to take anybody back aren't they.
When you're not expecting it you don't know what to say in return. When somebody just quite openly, out of nowhere, says about your weight and how you look like you might've eaten an awful lot of food that's quite something to try and digest in the moment and to try and come up with a response for.
That comment's not okay anyway, as a starting point, let's just say that that's not okay. And nobody should have to be prepared for that. But that person clearly doesn't have a filter and would never have intended to mean any harm by it, would never have intended to upset anybody, but clearly didn't know where the line was and didn't know that that was not an acceptable thing to say. Then there's is story of somebody whose in-laws, about as subtle as a brick about the way they feel about the daughter's weight, and the children of the daughter's weight , and the grandchildren's weight. Little comments about how maybe one person in the family is the only person who doesn't have to watch what they eat, or the basket tin will go round. And it will conveniently skip one person. Every single time that they visit.
And it's actions like that that again are probably not intended to harm. They're probably not intended to upset anybody.
But actions like that, especially when children are involved. Oh, just not. Regardless of what size these people might be. What is wrong with them having a biscuit? If this is a family social setting why would you want to exclude somebody like that? Who's to say that that family does not have an amazingly balanced diet outside of a setting where there are biscuits being handed around.
It makes me sad to think that there's children in that room that will be picking up on words and actions of adults. And it's all very subtle on the part of the adults, but kids are very susceptible to these things. They're like little sponges kids, they just absorb and absorb and absorb. I'm sure if you're a person who's been through dieting and you have issues with food or you have issues with food, I should say that there's some family history there, there's some history from when you were younger. I know that myself I've got food issues that stem from when I was young, parents and grandparents never set out to, you know, engrain, bad behaviors around food, bad habits around food, they just do what they think they're doing for the best, but, but actually it has quite the opposite effect. It's about time we started raising awareness of this it's about time that people started talking about what it is and what isn't acceptable and making it okay to just have biscuits and not allowing it to be okay for somebody to say something about the amount of food they might or might not have eaten over lockdown. There were so many compliments that are flung around as well that aren't really compliments.
Things like. Oh, she's such a bubbly person. Oh, don't you have a beautiful face. Oh, you're so funny. You've got such a pretty smile. All these things that on the face of it, they seem like just nice positive comments but when you look at the person that's receiving these comments is it a bit of a backhanded compliment?
For example, would you call somebody who was thin bubbly. You might just say they were funny or lively or something like that, but bubbly tends to be attributed it to larger people. And then you get comments like oh, you have such a pretty face. Giving a compliment, but detracting away from the body. Because that wouldn't necessarily be given to somebody who is thinner. I mean, it's not impossible. Of course, somebody might say that somebody who was thinner has a pretty face. On the whole, when you compliment somebody on their pretty face or their smile or something like that, your trying to detract away from the body. You're trying to give a compliment and move it away from the body.
Then there's direct body compliments. Things like, oh, you carry your weight so well. Oh, I would never have guessed you were that weight. Or complimenting womanly curves. What about saying. I could never do that if I was your enter word here. Shape size weight.
I don't know. Or what about this? Once upon a time they would have painted women. Like you. Because we know that historically paintings of beautiful naked women were not what we now consider the stereotypical thin, beautiful woman. They were more voluptuous. They were curvy. They had a bit of body weight to them. You could see, they were carrying a little bit of fat.
But they were considered beautiful.
And so I understand what the compliment behind that is, but to say once upon a time they would have painted a woman like you. Once upon a time. Why not now
What about when people comment on the amount of food that somebody can eat? Oh, I can't believe how much you can put away. Look how much food you can eat.
I don't even know why that seemed to be a compliment.
I don't get it. Is it a compliment? Is it a joke? Is it a jibe? I don't know.
But again, if you comment like that to towards a larger body person, If you say to them, look how much food you can eat that's bound to be interpreted differently, to say a thin person who can put away a whole pack of donuts in one setting. Do you know what I mean? You wouldn't think anything of it? It would just be a joke if it was the thinner person.
The bigger person there's bound to be somewhere, somebody that is making that comment based on their body weight. Here's another one. You know, when you're walking down the street and you see somebody that you haven't seen for years and years, maybe it's a school friend. Maybe it's an old school friend.
Maybe it's somebody you just know from an old job or something. Maybe it's somebody you've seen from an old diet club and your thought is, oh, why hasn't she changed? Doesn't she look different? She's put weight on. Oh, she's lost a lot of weight. And especially when he's a diet club person as well, or somebody, you know, from a diet club group, a slimming world group, a weight Watchers group. Somebody, that was always that person that was their weekend week out for the whole length of time you were there and you see them and your first thought is, she's put on all the weight that she lost.
Or the other way round. Oh, look. Oh, God, she's lost so much weight. Since the last time I saw her. And I know it's natural. I know it's human nature to discuss things like that and to think about things like that but isn't it mad that that's one of the first things that comes to mind. One of the first things we see. One of the first things we think about when we see a friend or an old acquaintance is we consider what their body looks like. We don't even think oh, her hair. Gosh, that looks amazing. It wasn't like that last time I saw it.
Or. Oh, she didn't have red hair last time we saw her. That looks great. That's never the first thing we see. So we have to reframe these things. We have got too much of our own pressure to be adding this pressure. We have too much pressure from sources around us, from advertising, from friends, from family, from all these different sources that are putting the pressure on us to look better to look different, to lose weight, to look more beautiful. We don't need that pressure and it's time that we start talking to people and putting them straight when they say these things. We have our own internal food police.
This is an intuitive eating term and it's all the chatter in your mind. It's all a criticism that you give yourself based on what you've eaten, what you're thinking about eating. It's all the voices around in the advertising, in the people in the office in your family. It's all the people around that are giving you negative feedback. On your body and your food that you're eating. We've got enough of that so we need to start putting people straight on this stuff.
I don't really know why people think it's okay to talk about people like this, either.
I think the way we also have to think about this is to consider whether or not you would say it's your nearest and dearest.
Would you walk up to one of your children? Or your partner? And make some really derogatory comments to them about their weight, their size, the way they look.
I don't think hand on heart you would do that if you really loved them and cared for them.
And would you be happy to say something to your grandma about how disgusting her body looks. No, of course you wouldn't because you wouldn't want to upset her. You love her for what she is.
I know we joke about things sometimes but, but you wouldn't intentionally set out to hurt people with your words, would you.
Indirectly that's what's happening when you're commenting on people's bodies. They might not hear what you say but you're still passing that judgment on them. And if you wouldn't say it to your nearest and dearest It's not an acceptable thing to say.
The underlying message. In all of this is that all bodies are good bodies. All bodies are good bodies. Now that doesn't mean that all bodies function as they should. It's a line that is interpreted differently by different people. So in this industry, in the intuitive eating and the health at every size industry people will have a different interpretation of this. Some might say no, all bodies are not good bodies because you have bodies that have disabilities and food, intolerances and allergies and things like that but for me, All bodies are good bodies is valid because all bodies are worthy of being treated equally. All bodies should be seen as good bodies. There may be disabilities. There may be illness. There may be allergies, intolerances things that we have to work around. But that doesn't mean that that body is any less good. Just means it functions differently.
So we need to be representatives for body diversity. It does not matter what shape you are, what size you are, what you weigh, what you look like. It doesn't matter. We should all be representatives for our body types and body diversity. If you are in a bigger body then you need to be a spokesperson for people in bigger bodies.
If you are living with a disability, then you're likely to be a person that speaks up for people with disabilities and people living in bigger bodies, they don't seem to do that as much as people with disabilities. It's because it's not one of those things that has seemed to be socially acceptable.
Disabilities are seen as socially acceptable because these people can't help it. It's something they have to live with. We make adaptations for them. That sort of thing.
But people in bigger bodies don't get that tolerance from the public. They're often. Look down on or criticized for what is perceived to be their lifestyle. So we need to start sticking up for ourselves. We need to start speaking out being advocates for our body types. If you're not in a marginalized body type then I would ask you to start speaking out for those people. The more people that have an understanding of weight, stigma and fat phobia the better.
There are a few things we can do. There is an odd feeling around the word fat. Some people are comfortable with it. Some people are not. Some people are happy to be referred to you as fat. They are happy to call themselves fat. They are happy to say I am a fat person. Because it's a descriptor.
It doesn't bear any relevance on them as a person. But it is a fact. That they are a fat person. However, not everybody is comfortable with that. So you have to gauge what the person is happy with when you talk to somebody about this subject. I for example, I am not yet happy to be referred to as fat.
I don't openly easily say to people that I am in a fat body.
But I do like the term bigger body. And that's respectful. That's a good term to use if you're not sure what term to use about people that are fat or bigger bodies. It's a comfortable, safe term to use. I think it doesn't belittle anybody. It doesn't make it sound like it's anything to be ashamed of. It's just ,I live in a bigger body. Obesity is really a no-go term. The history of obese is that it translates in its originality as over eaten.
So when people are referred to as obese, they are being referred to people who have overeaten, which isn't a fair representation of everybody in a bigger body, and it's not a nice term to use. So that's something also to be aware of, if you're new to talking about these things. It's not something that any professional in this industry will use.
You will find podcasts that actively bleep out that word. You'll find people, professionals, that will apologize for the use of that word
Unfortunately the medical profession does like that word and it gets bandied around left. Right. And flip-flop.
It's on the BMI scale. It's used to refer to people above a certain weight. It is used in medical terms to relate to causes of illnesses. Doctors medics full stop. Have no problem with using the word obese and obesity.
As you may have noticed neither do the government
It's all over their advertising campaigns. It's everywhere. It is in public policy that we will reduce obesity and it really has an understanding of what that word means. They don't have the insights to be able to apply that to real life and to replace it with terms that are actually better and more understanding and compassionate words.
It's all around us. You can see that it is everywhere. You can't escape it unfortunately. But what we can do is now be proactive. Let's be proactive and let's start changing the way that people behave around us. Let's call them out. You've always got somebody in the office that thinks they're funny when the spouting explicitives all over the place. But nobody wants to be known to be actually offensive.
We can start by changing the environments around us. We can change the way that our family talks about these things. We can encourage them. To talk about things in a more compassionate manner. We can have conversation across the dinner table. We can have conversation about experiences in our day when we're talking to my family. It doesn't need to be a lecture when you talk about these things you can just drop it into conversation.
When you're at work don't let people crack jokes about people's body shapes and sizes. Even their own, don't let them do that. Self-deprecation is actually a lot of people's ways of covering up their insecurities . Again, you don't have to have this confrontational conversation with somebody, you can just have a conversation. So if somebody says about the amount of weight maybe that a colleague has put on, you can say, well, maybe they've got a lot going on in their lives. It doesn't really matter what their weight is like. It doesn't really matter what size they are. It doesn't matter what their weight is.
And then you go from there and you start discussing the fact that actually people have been through a lot of stress with COVID for example. And you never know what's going on at home. And you don't know what their financial status is like. And you don't know what their medical situation is.
There's a lot of reasons why somebody's weight might change. Yet, what we do is automatically go, they've put a load of weight on. They must be eating more. So it's about having conversations with people around you to try and correct this behavior that we seem to have, where we think it's okay to comment on other people and their bodies.
I think it's time we stop allowing it. We start speaking up and we stop allowing it. And then what happens is people's points of view will shift. If there is an advocate for people in bigger bodies, if there is an advocate for people in different bodies then it just takes that one person to have a knock on effect onto another person in the room. And then that person starts talking positively. And before you know it this has snowballed and more people are talking positively and more people know that it's not okay to make these negative comments anymore.
We also need to stop complimenting people on weight loss. There are several reasons why we should be aware of this. You don't know what situation those people are in. You don't know the reason behind the weight loss. For some people it's intentional dieting. For some people, it is stress. For some people, it has lack of access to food. For some people it's poor health.
For some people, it is an eating disorder. There are many reasons. Those are just some of them, but there are many reasons why someone might be losing weight.
I was asked by somebody how you can compliment somebody without commenting on their body. So, for example, if you're aware that somebody has some eating issues, you're aware that they have some kind of eating disorder, maybe. Or you notice that they're losing weight very quickly and you're a bit concerned about them you don't want to be complementing their weight loss. So you need some other things to compliment them on instead. You need to make them feel good without commenting on their bodies.
So here are some ideas. You can compliment best strength of character. They've been through a tough time. So you compliment their resilience. Their strength.
You might compliment them on artistic ability. Maybe they're a talented painter or drawer. Drawer? Is that a word? Artists anyway. You might compliment them on their ability to write beautifully. Oh, I envy people who can write in a calligraphy style or they just have a beautiful handwriting.
Maybe you will compliment them on their energy, their personality. Maybe they just light up a room when they walk in. Maybe they ooze positivity. Maybe everybody just wants to be around them. Maybe you compliment their humor. Are they always funny? Are they the kind of person that can bring up any low situation? In a room full of unhappy people can they be the person that picks you all up.
Maybe you comment on their friendship and you thank them for being such a great friend for, for their loyalty.
Or maybe you compliment them on their passion for what they're doing.
Do they love their work. Do they love helping people. Do they love and put everything they have into their hobbies.
Oh, are they a dancer? Gosh, I love watching people dance. Are they a dancer and they just need to be praised for the way they draw you in and give you joy when you watch them.
Maybe you'll praise them on their work ethic. Maybe you don't know them that well that you can compliment them personally. But you can compliment them on their work ethic. On how much they bring to their team. On how great a job they do.
There are some things that you can compliment on a physical level. So you could say. Oh, your hair looks amazing. Oh, I really love what you've done with your nails. I love what you're wearing today. That looks incredible on you.
So you can see, there are lots of different ways to compliment somebody without being personal about their body type. And that's what we're aiming for. That's what we want the future to be people complimenting people on things that matter. Not on what their bodies look like. Oh, I'd love to hear what conversations you have now after you've listened to this, please, please message me.
Tell me what conversations you have with people after this. Tell me about conversations that you've turned around after reframing a conversation that is a bit too negative, a bit too body orientated. Tell me message me. I really want to hear it.
So I hope that's been food for thought. I hope it's been interesting and I hope that it has a positive effect on conversations around you now. I only ever want these episodes to be useful and interesting and, and have a positive impact so I hope this has been useful for you.
Let me tell you about the great food debate for this week.
There isn't one. I'm sorry.
Oh, it's just life got in the way and if I'm going to be totally honest about this, I forgot to post it. I forgot to ask the question. So I am genuinely, sorry. I will sort myself out and there will be normal service resumed next week. I just completely forgot. I think the bank holiday threw me and I completely forgot to put the debate out for people to comment on and then I went to record and I was like, oh no,
I completely forgot about it so I'm sorry about that but I will get that going for next week so look out for the posts on social media. If you've got as well, a suggestion for the great food debate, let me know because there's going to come a point where my mind goes blank and I cannot think of anything to debate so, let me know if you come up with anything that you would like me to put to the general public. And We'll put some food stuff straight.
That is it for this week I think. I've got some great guests lined up. I've got some interviews lined up with people. We're going to have some interesting conversation on some other topics. Like. No, I'm not going to tell you what, like actually you just have to wait and see. So there's some great guests signed up.
Some professional people with some really good insights into completely different ways of approaching the way we look after ourselves and the way we see ourselves. So I'm really excited to bring those to you.
In the meantime, have you signed up for the newsletter?
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Until next week. I love you and leave you. Take care of yourself. Be kind to yourself. And I'll speak to you soon