Christmas is one of those times that can turn up the volume of our emotions. That’s great if we’re feeling happy, excited and loved up, but not so great if we are single and feeling a bit blurgh about life changes or ourselves in general.
I’m not saying every single fat person dreads Christmas – far from it (I adore Christmas but certainly have my moments where its tough to be single, I’m not so worried about being overweight and have the tools to deal with any shaming).
Maintaining a body positive life takes work. Being happy takes work. You are in charge of how you feel and react. It’s your life and none of anyones business how you choose to live it.
Whether it’s meeting up with old friends who are now in relationships, or negotiating nosy family members who ask, ‘Haven’t found anyone yet then?’or offer lectures on what products has the least amount of sugar that I can consume (eyeroll), being single and overweight during the festive season can feel more like a fight for survival and judgement day than a joyful time.
But, rather than crawling in a hole and missing out on all the fun, here are a few tips for tackling December with confidence.
Us single fat babes really need to do is laugh at it all and try to keep a fresh perspective.
Look on the bright side
There are actually lots of bonuses to being single at Christmas – no agonising over presents for your partner, no stress over whose house to eat Christmas dinner at, being able to go to any party you want…the list goes on.
Also remember that there is life after Christmas – after all, it is just a week and it’ll soon be January.
Rude comments made towards you have more to do with the person’s internalized fat-phobia than any hurtful intent.
We’ve all been taught to varying degrees and at different stages in our lives to talk and think negatively about our bodies and view fatness and being single as something that is undesirable.
When family members say things like, “Your Auntie Jean lost 30kgs with weight watchers you should give it a go,” or, “That top isn’t the most flattering thing on you,” oftentimes they’re not trying to cause your pain.
When someone says anything that has a body shaming flavor to it, I try to stop and remember where it’s coming from. I know that a lot of what they say comes from their own deeply rooted body negativity. My sympathy for my their own struggle with self love often outweighs some of the things she says to me, since I am in a point of my life where I’m relatively at peace with my body.
Pick your battles
Some comments (and members of your family) are simply not worth your time. If you have a senile grandparent or uncle who you never have to see any other day of the year but Christmas Eve and who loves asking you, “Do you really think you should be eating a second serve?” or, “It’s such a shame you haven’t met anyone yet, you’d be a great Mum,” it’s easier to just disengage and try to ignore the statements entirely.
I know from experience that trying to correct certain people in my family is more traumatizing than the fat shaming itself. Not everybody is open to understanding body positivity or making the effort to respect your own journey and beliefs. They don’t know me well enough to know that I’m considering paying $7,000 to have my eggs harvested and frozen due to reproductive issues. Or that I’ve dated someone this year who ended up secretly having children already and didn’t think to tell me!
It’s massively frustrating, but sometimes there’s simply nothing to be said.
Take the chance to educate people or let them know what they’ve said is hurtful
However, if you feel safe enough, you should explain what the body positivity movement is all about or why you are happy being single, as well as what it means to you on a personal level.
There’s a good chance that whoever you discuss this with — especially after a comment is made — can greatly benefit from a little body positivity in their lives. Even if they seem opposed to the ideas you’re putting forth, whatever does resonate with them might incite a shift in how they feel about themselves and talk to others.
Lean on your support network
One year I had a family member pull a plate of biscuits away from me in front of everyone and told me that I’d had enough. Everyone saw. It was awkward. I left the room discretly and cried. Called one of my body positive friends who made me feel a million times better.
Bowing out of the room when you feel particularly overwhelmed is healthy, and throwing yourself into body pos activities can make a substantial difference in how you’re feeling. Reaching out to your support system, reading through your favorite size acceptance blogs, or giving yourself some compliments in the mirror can help support and strengthen your body pos foundation, preparing you for the rest of your visit or interaction.
Come up with a few good comebacks
If there’s one thing to guarantee you regressing to being a sulky child, it’s a nosy relative inquiring about your love life or weight.
Yes it’s petty, but the fact is that when your smug distant cousin and his new wife are bearing down on you at a family gathering you’ll do well to have some stock answers to their potentially prying questions. This can range from the genuine (I just haven’t found the right person yet) to the flippant (I’m actually seeing quite a few people, one for each day of the week and I have a very busy and active sex life. Oh and hows yours?) – whatever you’re comfortable with, just be prepared.
I also like to tell people that I’m practising making babies. Which I find rather hilarious. You can use that line if you want. You’re welcome!
This is the cardinal rule for surviving Christmas single – and in fact, the whole year round. If you wallow in your feelings of misery, you’ll enter into a downward spiral. Misery breeds misery, and it pushes people away. How often have you walked into a party and thought, ‘ooh, I’ll talk to that miserable person over there’? We’re guessing never.
You’re single. Your fat. NO BIG DEAL. It’s seriously NO ONES BUSINESS and you do NOT NEED TO JUSTIFY YOURSELF
We know that it’s often easier said than done to banish those feelings of sadness – especially if you find yourself remembering last Christmas when things were better for you – but do try. As soon as you feel your mind wandering, distract yourself. Volunteer to do some cooking, call up a friend: just get your mind off that subject.
The fact is that people are paying far less attention to you than you think they are. Simply try to enjoy the company of friends and family you don’t often see; after all, what’s funnier than Aunt Margaret after a few too many ports?