Here's How To Handle Body Shaming From Your Significant Other

Even though body positivity has been on the rise now for quite a while, and bodies of all sizes and shapes are being accepted more than ever, body shaming still exists. The stigma surrounding weight, especially those on the heavier side, persists, and not only is it psychologically damaging, but it creates internalized fatphobia.


Body shaming, particularly for those who are heavy, can make people physically sick and lead to more weight gain because it causes stress, according to a 2019 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). When people are stressed, cortisol in the body increases, self-control decreases, and so the risk of binge eating becomes a real concern. The issue can also lead to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, low self-esteem, emotional stress, and self-harm. "This is a systemic issue we need to be addressing," professor of health promotion at Dalhousie University Sara Kirk tells the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

But while the effects of body shaming are well documented, it doesn't stop people from being unnecessarily cruel when it comes to those who don't have the body that society has agreed upon as perfect. Although we may expect such nastiness from strangers — the internet and social media are cesspools of such things — we certainly don't expect it to come from someone we love and trust. Yet, it sometimes does.


Realize it's not about you

When people shame others, it's less about the person they're shaming and more about their own internalized issues. It's a form of deflection from their own problems and hang-ups, as well as a projection of those problems and hang-ups onto someone else. "Body-shaming comments that a partner might make are often a reenactment of a similar comment that they have received in other chapters of their life," licensed clinical mental health counselor and body liberationist, Dani Bryant, tells Bustle.


Perhaps your partner was bullied for their weight by family or friends as a kid or is currently being shamed by coworkers in the office, so for them to lash out and insult you is their way of dealing with their own issues. Although this doesn't make their behavior okay, it can make the understanding that the comments are coming from someplace else easier to digest.

However, your partner's body shaming could also come from a place of concern about your health, but because they lack the communication skills to talk to you about it, they resort to shaming. Again, it isn't about you. It's about a person who doesn't know how to communicate in a clear, constructive, and mature way.

Talk to your partner

It's not to suggest that your partner is clueless about what they're doing, but sometimes people aren't really aware of the damage their words are causing, especially if you're in the habit of laughing it off because it's sometimes easier to laugh than cry. Since this could possibly be the case, it's best to talk to your partner about it.


In fact, experts, like body image therapist Sarah Herstich, told Insider, that getting to the bottom of the issue is necessary. "If you don't, then resentment builds and ultimately it can ruin the relationship. So in those instances I definitely think that it's worth digging into. Let people know how their words are really impacting you," explains Herstich.

If your partner can't understand that they're hurting you or, even worse, acts like they don't care, then it's time to re-evaluate the relationship. Life is hard enough as it is and strangers already corner the market on body shaming. You don't need those issues coming from home too.