Tuesday, November 21, 2017

How Can We Eliminate Fat Chat Forever?

I’ve wondered about this since I was in eighth grade. I stood in the lunchroom after school waiting for the bus by myself. None of my few friends were on a late bus so I was alone. Carla* sauntered up with Kerri*, who had the same birthday as me. I was wearing my brand new flowered shorts from The Gap, back when long shorts were popular. I really liked these shorts and had been excited to wear them to school, like most others I wanted to fit in and look like I belonged. Kerri had the same shorts on and I thought, Wow, we like the same clothes. And felt happy this cool girl might be a little bit like me. Carla said, “Nice shorts. Yours must be size ten and Kerri’s are size four.” She laughed at me. Kerri had the grace to look uncomfortable but she said nothing. Of course, I felt horrible.

Courtesy of http://www.heyugly.org/CelebritiesWhoHaveBeenBullied.php

Courtesy of http://www.heyugly.org/CelebritiesWhoHaveBeenBullied.php

Untitled design-1 Later in high school, I learned that Carla came from a pretty troubled home and I was able to imagine that her mean attitude was learned. Anyone who has ever been the butt of fat chat knows, it hurts. Why do people talk about others unkindly? I wondered about this for a long time, from childhood on. And especially why do people feel it is okay to judge someone by how they look? Maybe, it helps them feel less inferior. To feel superior can be a powerful panacea against feelings of unworthiness and even self loathing. It is often those who don’t feel good about themselves that belittle others, to their faces or behind their backs. Perhaps, some people are socialized to be snarky and judgmental in their family culture. In Carla’s case, I later learned that was just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll never know the motivation Carla felt to try and cut me down. I only know now that I had the power to not allow it to dictate how I felt about myself. I had to take control of my own self esteem. I may not have had the tools then, but I learned them.

Courtesy of http://www.heyugly.org/CelebritiesWhoHaveBeenBullied.php

Courtesy of http://www.heyugly.org/CelebritiesWhoHaveBeenBullied.php

And what could Kerri have done as she looked on, if she had wanted to lessen the hurt her friend’s words may have caused? I learned from Christine Kobie, violence prevention educator and victim advocate about the three Ds of Active Bystandership. These are tactics Kerri or I could have applied to deal with the situation. 1. DIRECT – Step in and interrupt the problem situation by talking about it. Say something like, “That’s not funny.” Or, “What you said isn’t cool.” And talk directly to the people involved. Don’t join in or laugh. Instead stand next to the person being spoken to unkindly so they don’t feel as alone. And, even if it is after the fact, tell them that they were mistreated and you are sorry it happened. Speaking up, even if you have to do it later, goes a long way to sharing kindness in the face of someone’s tough moment. It would have taken a lot of courage on Kerri’s part to step in and tell Carla to stop. It would have eliminated any uncomfortable feelings of guilt or shame she felt afterwards though for not saying anything. And later in high school and college I knew Kerri to be a kind person so she may have been more affected than she let on by the situation. 2. DISTRACT – If you aren’t comfortable being direct in the moment another thing you can do is distract the person who is bullying. You could ask them a question about something unrelated or ask them to show you where the restroom is located. Get the focus of the person experiencing the fat chat or other bullying. If Kerri was too intimidated by Carla to speak up directly she could have tried to distract her. Sometimes, we freeze up in the moment but if she’d known about this she could have tried distraction to diffuse the moment. 3. DELEGATE – If you are not able to diffuse the situation alone you can always call in reinforcements. Ask friends nearby a question and draw them in to help distract or bring them over and involve them. Kerri could have called over one of her kinder friends and said how much she loved my recent project in science class and started an entirely new conversation. Untitled design-3 To really eliminate fat chat we need a world that comes from the heart. When we see others with our hearts appearance doesn’t matter. What matters is people caring for people.  To promote living from the heart, run your actions and words through a kindness filter. Ask yourself: Is what I am about to do or say kind to me, the people involved, and the world? If the answer is yes, proceed. Promote kindness and heart centered living and be your amazing, fabulous self. We are all healthy and beautiful at every size! *names have been changed

Courtesy of http://www.heyugly.org/CelebritiesWhoHaveBeenBullied.php

Courtesy of http://www.heyugly.org/CelebritiesWhoHaveBeenBullied.php

AmyLeighMercree.com Amy Leigh Mercree is an author, media personality, and expert dating, relationship, & wellness coach who has been practicing for fifteen years.  Mercree speaks internationally and brings groups on adventure vacations around the world focusing on kindness, joy, and wellness.  She teaches workshops around the country. Mrs. Mercree’s book The Spiritual Girl’s Guide to Dating: Your Enlightened Path to Love, Sex, and Soul Mates is THE empowered dater’s toolkit.  She blogs at AmyLeighMercree.com and her many media credits are available there on the Media Lounge page including: contributor to The Huffington Post, columnist for Elevated Existence Magazine, WeAreTheRealDeal.com, Care2.com, YourTango.com, Singular Magazine, Cupid’s Pulse, Modern Sage, AOL Latina, and many more. Mercree is fast becoming one of the most quoted women on the web with quotes featured in the book 101 Positive Thinking Quotes, on numerous sites, and shared all over Twitter. Follow her @AmyLeighMercree on Twitter.

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