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  • Renuka Barlingay

Navigating Body Comments and Diet Talks: A Comprehensive Guide


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Have you ever found yourself in a conversation about body or dieting and felt uncertain about how to respond? This is a common scenario, especially during Indian weddings and festivals, where discussions about weight and food often take center stage.


Understanding Body Comments and Diet Talks:

Body comments and diet talks focus on someone's physical appearance and what they eat. These often include remarks about a person's weight, shape, or size. Diet talks typically involve discussing things like calorie counting, specific eating habits, and opinions about what one should or shouldn't eat. Both types of conversations can make people feel judged or self-conscious about their bodies and eating choices.


Prevalence in India:

A 2019 survey by Fortis Healthcare, which included 1244 women between age 15 to 45 years across 20 cities in India, revealed that around 90% of women recognized that body shaming is a common behavior. Negative comments on their appearance, weight, skin tone, body shape, and hair contribute to their harassment in schools and workplaces. Further, 89% felt that social media sets unrealistic beauty standards that contribute to the prevalence of body shaming. 95% also believed that most people do not realize that they indulge in body shaming.


Celebrities Taking a Stand:

Indian celebrities like Vidya Balan, Sonakshi Sinha, and Priyanka Chopra have actively spoken out against body-shaming, advocating for self-acceptance. Internationally, Ariana Grande addressed concerns over her body in a viral TikTok video, garnering over 66 million views, emphasizing the importance of being gentle with one another.

“I was on a lot of antidepressants and drinking on them and eating poorly and at the lowest point of my life when I looked the way you consider me healthy,” shares Ariana Grande.


Impact of Body Comments and Diet Talks:

"Making comments about physical appearance has been so normalized in our society that it is hard for some to understand why this could be problematic and should be avoided. It can lead to issues such as negative body image, low self-esteem, body dissatisfaction," says Elizabeth Altunkara, Director of Education at the National Eating Disorders Association.

Diet talks can be distressing for individuals with disordered eating habits or diagnosed eating disorders, perpetuating feelings of guilt and shame around food and body image. It may also contribute to the harmful aspects of diet culture, which often equates thinness with societal acceptance and moral superiority.


How to Respond:

  • Set Boundaries: Express discomfort with body or diet-related topics. Statements like, "Let's talk about something else," can be effective​​.

  • Educate Others: Make others aware of the impact of their comments. Phrases like, "Comments about my body hurt my self-esteem," can be enlightening​​.

  • Redirect Conversation: Change the subject to more positive topics​​.

  • Limit Exposure: Engage with supportive people and follow body-positive social media accounts​​.

So, navigating body comments and diet talks involves assertiveness, education, and self-care. Learning from famous people and mental health experts can help you deal with these talks better and help create a society where everyone feels good about their bodies. This way of handling things can make us more understanding and kind to each other.

Remember, it's often more about them than you. Changing the subject or even leaving the conversation is okay. Prioritizing mental well-being is crucial, especially for those in recovery from toxic environments​​.

If you require additional support or resources, reach out to us or consult our directory!


Sources

  1. American Psychological Association (APA) - The burden of weight stigma

  2. University of California, San Diego - “Diet Culture” & Social Media

  3. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) - Associations between weight talk exposure and unhealthy weight control

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