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In the Media | How to Deal With a Partner Who Body Shames You

Written by: Lexi Inks
Published by: Bustle

If you’re in a relationship, have there been instances where your partner has negatively commented on your weight? Do they occasionally (or more than occasionally) insult you in regard to your size or shape? Have they made jokes to you or others that are based on the appearance of your body? All of these scenarios fall under the definition of “body shaming.” According to Samantha DeCaro, PsyD, the director of clinical outreach and education at eating disorder treatment facility The Renfrew Center, any comment that implies that your body needs to be “fixed” counts as body shaming, and this type of behavior can actually be classified as emotional abuse.

While everyone’s experience is different, body image is typically a very sensitive and personal topic. Societal expectations, the pressure to be seen as “attractive,” unrealistic beauty standards, and patriarchal elements all contribute to the ways in which people often view themselves and their bodies. Especially when it comes to women, the pervasive messages and expectations around their body size, shape, and overall appearance can influence their lifestyle choices — and even their well-being. So if your S.O. regularly criticizes your body or says things like, “You’d look so much better if you lost a few pounds,” your mental health is likely to be impacted. Read on for intel on body shaming in a relationship and how to deal if it’s happening to you.

Why Does My Partner Body Shame? 

Although your partner might not intend to hurt your feelings, those behaviors are often rooted in negative experiences from someone’s childhood. “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,” says Dani Bryant, a clinical mental health counselor and body liberationist.

A partner can sometimes believe that they just care about your health, and justify their body shaming behavior as their way of nudging you to alter your lifestyle. But, as DeCaro explains, focusing on weight isn’t an accurate way to gauge someone’s health. “If you are truly concerned for your partner’s health, do not focus on weight,” she says. “There are many ways to improve health and engage in health-promoting behaviors without intentionally manipulating the shape or size of the body.”

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