With summer fast approaching, a lot of people I know are stressing about their bodies. Maybe they want to be “bikini ready” (whatever that means), or are going home for the summer and seeing friends or family for the first time in months or more. Or, I would argue, maybe their friends are doing some major body snarking.
Body snarking is any negative body talk about one’s own body or someone else’s, whether about weight, beauty marks, facial features, etc. Facebook has become rich with body snarking, with negative and even mocking comments about how people’s bodies look in pictures. As some of you may already have experienced, body snarking is contagious. If you’re around people who are constantly criticizing their own or another person’s body, you’re naturally going to direct your attention in the same negative light concerning your own bod.
So, here’s a radical thought: maybe you don’t need to lose a few pounds, or that beauty or stretch mark, or pay $30 for new lip plumping cream.
Maybe what you need is some new friends.
Having a conversation with your friends about their body-negativity is not an easy thing. If you feel that it’s changing your perception of your own body though, you have every right to speak up. Explain that you’d like to see a change in the way you talk about your bodies, and see if they’d be interested in making a communal effort to knock out the body snarking. If they keep up their body-hating around you instead of respecting your wishes, take notice of common times when their comments are at an all-time high so you can avoid those situations. You have the right to do your own thing and meet them at the bar or party on a Friday night instead of getting ready with them and spending 20 minutes trying to convince them they do not look fat in those pants.
It’s also possible that some objects in your life are body snarking. Magazines with monthly articles about getting rid of wrinkles before they start, or heightening both your butt and hair 2 inches apiece have the same body negative infiltrating power as body snarking friends. That clothing item in your closet that last fit a few months or years ago that you refuse to donate or throw away? Every time you open your closet, that thing of your past blasts you with body snarking.
There’s good news though! A healthy perspective of body positivity and healthy lifestyles are also contagious. Friends can be amazing supports whether you’re looking for a buddy to start a workout routine with to gain some strength, trying to cut back on your caffeine intake, or trying to learn to cook more than boxed mac & cheese. (Don’t get me wrong, mac & cheese is delicious-but unfortunately not so full of nutrients. When they make a vitamin-infused version suggested for thrice weekly consumption, I’ll be the first to let you know.) As for items that are guilty of some serious body snarking, live in the present! Ditch the what-ifs and keep your clothing options to things that fit well and that you feel awesome in for much more body-positive interactions with your closet.
If you’re all about ending body snarking among your friends, check out the campaign Stamp Out Body Snarking, Delta Delta Delta’s sponsored national Fat Talk Free Week campaign and pledge anyone can sign, and read actress Ashley Judd’s awesome response to body snarking about a recent picture of her in the media