I’m So…

By Shani Petroff

I’m so fat…said the friend many sizes smaller than me in regards to herself.

A friend who is within the proper weight range, according to health guidelines. A friend who is a size I would kill to be. A friend who tells me that I look great just the way I am.

She chides herself and her appearance and constantly says she wishes she could lose weight so she’d feel attractive. I’m a lot bigger than her. If she feels that way about herself, what does she really think of me? How am I supposed to respond to these comments? And should I?

I truly don’t believe she does this to be cruel. I don’t even think she equates how saying that about herself can be flipped to me.

She’s a close friend, one I see every week. I privately cringe when she says these things. I debate what and if I should say anything. I don’t want her to feel like she shouldn’t be able to speak freely, and if that’s what’s on her mind and what’s concerning her, she should be able to talk about it. Then again maybe there’s a better choice of whom she should be saying this to. You wouldn’t talk about the joys of pregnancy to someone struggling to conceive, or brag about all of the things you and your dad did the other day to someone who just lost his father. You need to know your audience.

In some ways, my friend probably thinks she’s relating to me — that we’re both struggling to make better choices. But it’s the wording. If it was about health and having a hard time saying no to the cupcakes at work, I can totally get into that conversation. But when she talks about how “fat and gross” she is, I feel like she is basically calling me an ogre.

Occasionally, I throw in a “how do you think I should feel?” Then she goes on and on about how I look great, and I am lucky with my curves. And how it’s different. But it’s not. I just bite my tongue and change the subject.

Because I realize, I’m not always much better.

Everything is relative.

There are days I complain about things (including my size) that others are working toward. And when I say those things, I’m not thinking about anyone else, I’m only thinking about myself. I truly believe people of all shapes and sizes are beautiful, yet when it comes to myself I am supercritical. I treat and judge myself worse than anyone else on the planet.

This whole situation has made me come to a few realizations:

We all have insecurities. We all have things we worry about. I need to appreciate and understand that everyone has issues they are dealing with, and what might not seem like a big deal to me, could be something huge to someone else. Everyone has a story with ups and downs.

Building confidence is key. If I was truly confident, the words of others wouldn’t bother me. Unfortunately, they still do. I’m trying to overcome my insecurities, and love myself the way I am. I’m still working toward my weight-loss goals, but I’m trying to be kind to myself in the process. And if I say something mean or negative about my appearance, I make myself apologize and compliment my body.

I need to watch my words. You never know how something you say could affect someone else, so I’m trying to be more positive in general. And I’m trying to be more sensitive to those around me as well. And it’s not just about weight, i.e. if I have work stresses, I’m not going to tell them to the friend who just lost her job.

Sometimes you must spell it out. If my friend’s complaints about her weight are messing with my self-confidence, I need to just bite the bullet and say it. I need to tell her how I have no issues with talking about the struggles, but when she tells me she looks horrible, even though it’s unintentional, it feels like she’s insulting me. She’s my friend, she should understand.

How do you deal with situations like this? You can find me on Connect @shani!

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