In the last two years our bodies have been through a lot… Everything from illness, grief and losses caused by the pandemic, to feeling of rejoicing and relief. There is a feeling as if we have all been through a great defeat and we have not yet come out of this state.
In this process, our bodies were our constant companions. Maybe they have changed form, with or without our control. It is natural and expected that our attitude towards our body may change. During the pandemic, some of us began to accept more of our body and concentrate on feeling better in our own skin. Having time away from the outside world allowed us to have a stronger connection with ourselves, but, on the other hand, we might get tired of being alone.
It can be that during the holidays, the emotions we experience about our body become more intense. For example, when you visit family and relatives, meet old friends, or just go to a service party, it will be difficult to avoid comments from others about your body size, as well as gender expression, comments about what you eat, how you dress and so on. Because of the above factors, getting back into an environment we are used to because of a pandemic can be especially difficult this year.
Developing some good and clever strategies will be a great help to avoid such unpleasant moments. Reflection, proper understanding of the situation and setting clear boundaries – these are the tools that play an important role. Offer expert opinions and advice that will help you increase your self-confidence, avoid unwanted tension and maintain a good mood during the holidays, no matter how it develops.
Work on accepting yourself
How we connect with our bodies can be very similar to any other relationship – sometimes pleasant, sometimes frustrating, or imperfect – in any case, it’s all perfectly normal. Accepting your body requires a lot of effort, one of the first steps is creating a space for yourself.
“It’s important to let friends and family know when we feel insecure about our bodies so they can support us. Of course, there are people who are not empathetic and will try to dismiss this. We may have emotions that go against our values, for example, if you are happy with your body, naturally comments about it will affect you more. We can learn to control our emotions.” said Sonale Rashatwari, co-founder of the Radical Therapy Center and a licensed social worker.
Be prepared to respond and set boundaries
There are circumstances when our body gets more attention than usual. Holidays with family can be one of such circumstances. Queer blogger, Alice Dalesandro Santiago writes that people will definitely try to comment, so be prepared to respond. There are a number of potential strategies for it, it comes down to what is comfortable for you, as well as what the context is and who the people involved are.
When communicating with family, humor is especially helpful. “It will make people laugh and help them remember that there are better ways to say something. Also, we can tell them directly that we do not like it when people talk about our body and gender, but we love it when people tell us that they miss us. We need to have a supply of answers that we can use in the right situations,” Rashatvari said. It may also be helpful to make it clear that we are not going to engage in a conversation in which we may be insulted.
Don’t take it personally
Sometimes when we are frightened by our own vulnerability, it can help to remember we are not alone. No one thinks more about you than about themselves. ” – says Santiago.
People are programmed to comment on appearance. It has absolutely nothing to do with us as individuals. Why do we think people tell us things that do not concern our bodies? This is a kind of stereotype in society – people make unnecessary comments about others’ appearance. When someone comments on your body, nutrition and gender expression, it often reflects on how they relate it to themselves.
Listen to your body, understand what it wants
The most important thing is to keep in touch with our bodies and not what others say about it. During the holidays, food can be moralized, which is definitely a big challenge, especially for those who are struggling with eating disorders.
Food can be associated with love. Dining with family, especially during the holidays, can bring us a lot of associations. Food has no moral value – we should not force ourselves to eat what we do not want, just because we do not want to offend any of our family members, and we should not give up food because they might make uncomfortable comments about it. Finally, communication on this topic should take place only with yourself, the participation of family members in it is not mandatory.
Do not cut off communication with your supporters
It is easy to feel isolated when it comes to criticizing our body. If you don’t have someone around to support you, try to find a supportive family member. Also, it is possible to send a short text message to a friend about what is happening to you in a particular situation, so that you do not feel excluded and alone.
It is necessary for friends to know what you need, when you feel good, or vice versa. You should not hide when they hurt your feelings nor say what they said or did was okay.
While we try to get used to the old way of life, at the end of the day we still have to return home with ourselves. Finally, making peace with our bodies, caring for them and devoting time to them – this is the best gift we can give ourselves.