From The Straits Times    |

Credit: 123rf

It is that time of year again – where you get a second chance at your resolutions. Welcome Chinese New Year!

Together with all the festivity of the season, we once again have to face family and relatives who feel they can have an opinion on everything, including you. It is a trying time for us who are overweight, single (or self-partnered, if you prefer), married and child-less, unemployed (even if you are an entrepreneur starting up), or anything really that can be faulted – the list goes on. 

Firstly, take a deep breath and exhale. There is no need to freak out. We will figure this out together and make it through this season of possible negativity. It may be 2020 but, clearly, people still need to be educated. 

Case in point – there is a hashtag on Twitter that started in 2017 where people shared their body shaming experiences. #theysaid shows (and it is still going till today) how cruel or thoughtless some people, especially family, can be when it comes to body size and how damaging it can be for those affected, even years later. This also applies to any comments about how you live your own life.

Your self-worth is not your appearance. Remember that. Your achievements, values and character make up your worth. How you look is not as important as how society places weight (pun intended) on it. The only thing that matters is how you feel about yourself. No one else.

So, here’s how to still love yourself, stand up for yourself, and throw back negativity from people who should know better:

1. How to deal with comments on your body size

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You will probably encounter that aunty who must give you a backhanded compliment, such as you look so good if you would only lose/gain weight. Or that uncle who offers unsolicited advice on why you should not be eating so much rice or noodles or pineapple tarts and have diet pills instead (opposite statements for those in the skinny region). 

Firstly, prepare yourself mentally for such encounters telling yourself that you are a beautiful person inside and out and you are above such words. Then, have comebacks such as “Aunty, I would appreciate my time with you more if you didn’t make comments about my body size. I look great in any size and so would you. Have a happy new year.”

Or to uncle, “Do you know these diet pills are mostly laxatives that damage your health more than just losing weight in an unhealthy manner? Maybe don’t dish out advice when it’s not asked for. I am healthy and happy. Thank you for your concern but it is not needed. Happy new year.”

If you don’t have the courage yet to say anything back, it’s OK. Just flash your best smile combined with a glare and walk away.

2. How to answer back on being single or married but with no children

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If you feel the need to tell someone to back off or to mind their own business, please do. You have to stand your ground and create boundaries on how family or friends can treat you. Just because someone knows you doesn’t mean they are allowed to say mean things to you. 

For the singletons, like myself, I either smile and back away when I don’t want confrontation, or I point out “I am very happy, balanced and living my best life, how about you?” Sarcasm works well in putting people in their place while maintaining a polite demeanour.

For those who don’t want or can’t have children, you are welcome to make the person feel uncomfortable. Some people need to learn that way. You don’t have to share anything you don’t want to, such as finding it difficult to conceive or having no desire to have any kids. It is nobody’s business. You live your life on your own terms.

To back people off, you can comeback with, “perhaps now is not our time. Would you like to be included in our schedule of consummation?” or “I am fulfilled in my life and don’t need anyone else to tell me otherwise.”

If this is too much for you, the smile and walk away tactic is always a good fall back. Or you could go to the extreme and hire a boyfriend or girlfriend (yes, it is a real thing) or maybe ask a friend to borrow their child? Now that would be comical. (Disclaimer: Advice taken at your own risk, please.)

3. How to deflect away from your situation

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The great thing about conversations is that people like to talk about themselves. If you are caught in a situation where someone is asking you something you do not want to talk about such as your employment status or your living conditions, deflect back to them.

When asked an uncomfortable or prying question, give a brief vague answer then ask them back their situation or change the subject. Most people will not notice the change of topic and will happily indulge in the sound of their own voice.

4. Have boundaries, love yourself

Credit: 123rf

Credit: 123rf

Take a leaf out of Meghan Markle’s book – leave the family if they are toxic to you. Stand your ground if you feel you are being treated badly and remove yourself from the situation. Honestly, it does not matter if they are family. Actually, even more if they are family – they should have your back and not be cruel to you. Cut them out, family or not, if you are surrounded by toxicity and negativity. It is difficult to do but you must put yourself first. 

Self-love is all about you. It is not selfish to maintain your mental health. It is not selfish to consider yourself first. You live with yourself every day. Make sure you love you the most.

If this means you have to avoid the whole family situation, so be it. Don’t go visiting or travel out of the country. Do what you need to do to make you feel good.

Have a good Chinese New Year.

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