Negative comments really can have major consequences—in fact, body shaming can actually lead to a higher mortality risk “As a clinician who treats people with severe eating disorders, I can say that it’s quite common for patients to say that their eating disorder started after someone made a negative weight-related comment,” says Dr. Jennifer Mills an associate professor of psychology at York University in Canada. “That’s not to say that the comment caused the eating disorder—there may be other risk factors present and there were probably other factors at play—but a negative weight-related comment, even just one, can be very damaging, especially to people who are vulnerable.” With so much pressure and negativity coming from so many fronts, it’s important to make sure that you are happy with how you look and feel. And if someone does put you down, don’t let it sink in. Try these strategies to keep your self-confidence in top form.
Don’t let body shamers win. “If it seems appropriate and you’re comfortable doing it, actually speak up and say ‘ouch, that’s harsh. That’s really not nice to say that to other people about their bodies,'” says Mills. The offender might apologise, which can help you feel better off the bat. Plus, there’s a long-term benefit: “The thinking is that by doing this, we can start to collectively change the culture around us so that we’re not allowing people to make negative, hurtful comments,” says Mills. And if someone mocks you repeatedly, consider the possibility that you may need to distance yourself from the relationship.