Sigh… the holidays are well underway. And, for some of us in the plus universe, that means uncomfortable holiday conversations with family. I must say, my father and I have been having some incredible learning moments about politics, social class, economics, crime and poverty, and of course plus sizes. Without his permission, I’d rather not share the particulars. But, like anyone of that generation, he’s curious about the outward appearance of a lot of the women on our sites and at our events, about my growing comfort with women of size (it’s been snowballing for years, but I would say 2016 was definitely a pivotal year with 2018 being quite a growth year for me), and what Bold Media means and how it’s going to grow.
You may have some similar issues with your family. We’ve done some polls of our readers and a large percentage of plus women have varied discomfort with conversations that range from:
- Why are you single? (this is an “all women” problem, in fact an “all person” problem)
- Have you thought about making a lifestyle change? (weight, eating, fitness, etc.)
- Are you going to eat that? (or stop eating, etc.)
- Or the ever so popular condescending look when you’re getting seconds…
As an overweight young man, I had some of these fears. But, I also grew up in an overweight family. So many of my conversations weren;t about my eating. Later in life, conversations with friends and family have revolved around (at various times, not all at once):
- Your significant other has such a pretty face, have you discussed a healthier lifestyle?
- Why do you feel you need to date big women? You’re not a big man.
- Do you think it’s a good idea that you encourage their eating habits?
These are normal parts of my life, not looking for a medal or trophy (wink wink, haters.. read the articles, send an email, don’t be so silly…) . Lately, it’s been curbed. When it did happen, usually, I’ve just shrugged those conversations off. Over the past few years I’ve been much more vocal and taken some stances, which is empowering. But, this post isn’t about me. It’s about navigating tough conversations with your family. Jes Baker, one of my favorite humans, has an incredible way of chatting with people when she wants them to mind their damn business. She says (basically):
“These are my underpants. They are under my under my care. I’m not snooping around your underpants. So, let’s keep these conversations to ourselves.”
Love love love this! What she’s basically saying is “Look, I know what I’m doing and I’m caring for myself. You do the same.”
What are some other ways you can navigate these difficult conversations? Here are a few ideas:
- The most common thing we tend to do is ignore them. Shrug off. Is it perfect? No. But, it’s an option and it will allow you to move forward through dinner
- Sarah Sapora said during her Body + Love Workshop that you can simply excuse yourself when you’re no longer interested in the conversation. Doing this enough times, in my opinion, will send someone a clear message that those conversations are not to be had.
- Some of us like to make jokes. This is one way of handling it. Sometimes, it’s not helpful in the long run, but it all depends on your mindset!
- You can absolutely address it. It’s your right to do it. Perhaps at the dinner table to engage in a meaningful conversation? Or, in private, like “Hey, what did you mean by this? Just trying to be sure so I can address it with you, properly.”
- Some folks actually choose to spend less time with family and see their friends for the holidays, whom they know will not be judging their size or lifestyle.
There are an infinite amount of responses. But, we’re going to keep it to five that many of our friends and readers have liked. How do you prepare for these conversations and what are some of the common themes? Let us know in the comments!