I’ll Be Home for the Holidays

The holiday season is known for its good times and good cheer. The quality family time. The good, traditional food of Thanksgiving and Christmas. In the case of my family, Grandma’s famous 7-layer, straight-from-scratch, made 2 nights before so the flavor can set in chocolate cake and the sweetest honey baked ham. But for a community often operating under the radar, the holidays can be quite the opposite of a good time and good cheer. The holidays can be an even more stressful time of year for people living with eating and body image concerns.

On any given day, living with eating and body image concerns can be akin to living with an evil elf. The negative thoughts and sneaky dialogue about what to wear, what to eat, how much to eat, and about what others might think can run rampant and consume a lot of physical and mental energy. Add the “Girl you done put on a lil weight since the last time I seen you” or the side comments about what’s on your plate to the internal conversations you already have, and here we are Bah-hum-buggin’. The holly ain’t meeting the jolly and staying away from the festivities seems like the way to go.

smiling black woman reading book and drinking hot coffee
Photo by Any Lane on Pexels.com

If you are someone who struggles during the holiday season, know that you are not alone. Although eating disorders are uncommon[1] and Black women are least likely to be diagnosed with an eating disorder[2], about 28.8 million people are affected by an eating disorder[3]. This does not take into account the number of people who struggle with body image concerns. Nonetheless, this holiday season doesn’t have to be like the nightmare before Christmas.

Go into this holiday season with a plan. One that can help you cope with your thoughts about yourself, comments from family members, and your love-hate relationship with food and body. Check out our Coping Through The Holidays webinar to gather your holiday gear to help you make it through this holiday season. Learn strategies that can make going home for the holidays one to remember for all the better reasons.

[1] Streigel-Moore, R.H., Dohm, F.A., Kraemer, H.C., Taylor, C.B., Daniels, S., Crawford, P.B., & Schreiber, G.B. (2003). Eating disorders in white and black men. American Journal of Psychiatry, 160(7), 1326-1331.

[2] https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/people-color-and-eating-disorders

[3] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/striped/report-economic-costs-of-eating-disorders/

Body Image & When It Is Okay To Comment On It

body image; black woman; monochrome photography of woman wearing swimsuit
Photo by Jennifer Enujiugha on Pexels.com

The best time to comment on someone’s body image is umm … NEVER.

That’s it. That’s the time. However, we live in a society where people feel a little entitled to be able to do so. In fact, it’s so common for people to comment on the body image of others that it can either be blatantly out in the open or under the guise of concern from family members, doctors, strangers, and Lord knows who else.

If you’re the person who does this …. STOP IT! Especially if you’re feigning care.

Moving along.

Black Folks Have Poor Eating & Body Image Too!

Addressing the overall topic of mental health is still very taboo in Black communities. And, much like having conversations about one’s overall mental health is still pretty fresh in our communities, having conversations about the impact that body image concerns & disordered relationships with food have on the soul are pretty non-existent as well. In fact, many people still believe that these are White folks problems, when in fact Black women and men have eating disorders and body image concerns as well.

Sticks & Stones May Break My Bones But Words Are Sure To Hurt Me (If You’re Not Careful)

Black folks are notorious for using humor in ALL the situations, appropriate or not. I’m even guilty of using humor in the most inappropriate ways at times myself. Humor has been one of our most important saving graces, developed from years of turmoil experienced in this USofA. I ain’t mad at it. As I’ve gotten older, & since working with women who have significant body image issues, I have learned, however, that there is value of being mindful of the words being used to offer compliments or criticism to others. Be it now or later, hearing someone make disparaging comments about your body, in humor or in an effort to “show you they care”, can have long term effects.

Prime example. I have always been in a body crazy, curvy, wavy, not so itty bitty waisted body. One day, while in middle school, a guy walked by & mentioned how my bra was too big for my boobs in front of the whole class. Talk about somebody was SHAME. I’m almost 2 decades removed from middle school and can still remember what was said and how I felt. Now the emotions definitely aren’t the same now, and my confidence has grown significantly over time. It goes to show true what the late great Dr. Maya Angelou once said about people may not remember exactly what you said but they damn sure will remember how you make them feel.

And words, helpful or harmful, definitely lead to feels.

Maybe It’s More Than Meets the Eye

Lastly, we never truly know what people are going through that may be contributing to any change they experience, including with their bodies. Maybe its an underlying health condition, or a long history of body image struggles that may perpetuate other maladaptive behaviors; or, God thought to wrap them in different gift paper than you. YOU DON’T KNOW.

So, in the essence of truly learning to MYOB – MIND YOUR OWN BODY – let’s normalize not making comments on bodies that don’t belong to us. HMMMK!