Dealing with Pushback When Setting Boundaries Around Fatphobia – Dances With Fat

Image text: When I say “It’s OK to talk about my weight or food, if it continues I’ll be gone”
I am not trying to control what people think, I am clearly stating what behavior I will tolerate and what I will not, and what I will do if they continue with the behavior I find intolerable.

People sometimes worry that if they set limits, such as saying “It’s not okay for you to be ashamed of me or I’m leaving” other people will think they “can’t handle the truth” and “They are trying to control what I think.”

People may think or say these things. If there’s anything I’ve learned from trolls, it’s that people will go out of their way to justify their bias to themselves and anyone who will listen. We cannot control what people think of us, and we cannot control their behaviour. For me in these situations, I am less concerned with what people think, and more concerned about the way they treat me in my presence.

So when I say “It’s OK to talk about my weight or food intake. If anyone says anything else about it, I’ll leave.” I’m not trying to control what people think – they can think of anything the hell they want, I’m making clear what behavior I will and will not tolerate, and what I will do if they continue with behavior that I find intolerable.

If they keep discussing my weight or eating and I leave, it’s not for control of what they think – it’s to get myself out of the situation, keep myself safe and healthy, and make it clear that I’m serious about my limits.

People who want to ignore and break our boundaries will use all kinds of tactics, including suggesting that we are trying to control them, that we are creating the problem and so on.

If people want to spend time with me, they have to treat me a certain way, which includes not body shaming or food watching over me. So while they are allowed to think about what they want about me, my body and my food choices, they are, at the very least, 100% responsible for keeping those thoughts to themselves if they want to talk to me.

It’s not that I “can’t handle” what they think is the truth, it’s not that I don’t have to, and therefore I won’t.

Upcoming online workshop:

Dealing with vatophobia in holidays

Between in-person and online family gatherings, work parties, New Year’s Eve parties, New Year’s resolution, numerous diet announcements… the holiday season can be a perfect storm of fat phobia. Plus all the talk this year about body changes linked to COVID adds another layer of nonsense, all this food culture can really put you down. In this workshop, we’ll talk about tips, tricks, and techniques to help us manage and have a happy holiday season on our own terms – whether we celebrate a holiday or not.

Full details and registration:
* This workshop is free for DancesWithFat members – login information is on the members page
Become a member here!

Did you miss one of the monthly workshops? You can still get the video here!

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Book me! I’d like to talk to your organization (and I can do it remotely!) I talk to healthcare audiences, colleges, companies, and the general public on topics including weight science, weight stigma, and the health model at every size. You can get more info here or just email me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org

Posted by Ragin Chastain

Hi, I’m Ragan Chastain. Speaker, writer, dancer, choreographer, marathoner, soon-to-be iron distance athlete, activist, fat person. View all posts by Ragini Chastain

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