How To Deal With Body Shamers Like an Adult
Body shaming stories are very popular. The usual narrative is: Person A gets body shamed on social media by random person; Person A strikes back on social media with a "message to the haters" which isn't really a message but some sort of inspirational/self-promoting monologue. (Another option Person A has to strike back at the random body shamer is to get petty and equally cheap shots.) Person A's post gets retweeted and reposted throughout social and digital media. Repeat.
Plus size model Kate Eckman's approach to dealing with body shamers was different.
Eckman was part of a Facebook Live segment where she, a size 12, stood next to another model who was a size 2, in swimsuits to show how swimsuit styles work on different body types. The Facebook live feed was watched by more than 50,000 viewers, and with mostly positive feedback from viewers. Naturally, there were a few bad apples in the bunch. Namely, the man who asked if Eckman had a gym membership and another man (all the negative comments came from men, BTW) who wrote "no fat chicks" on the page.
Last week on HuffPo, Eckman pointed out some hard truths with compassion:
"What people say about you has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them. Case in point: The man who said, “No fat chicks,” weighs no less than 400 pounds. Yes, I clicked on his comment and looked at his Facebook page.
I have compassion for this man. He was probably talking to himself. His self-hatred could be SO DEEP that he took the time to make a mean comment about a woman he does not know. A comment attacking a woman’s body.
I send this man love. He is in pain. He does not know me. He doesn’t know I have “big thighs” because I am built like my 6’5″ athletic father. He doesn’t know I swam competitively for 17 years and can leg press 245 pounds.
He doesn’t know I recently lost two dear friends to suicide, and sometimes when the pain is too great, I deal with it by over-eating, something it seems he can relate to."
This wasn't shade or tea. Eckman, who was scrutinized by a stranger, held up a mirror to not only show the stranger what she saw, but how she could relate to it. Eckman wasn't painting a pious picture of herself, but a very real one, flaws and all. And that's more relatable than all the self-promoting inspiration posts floating around online.