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Mind Your Own Business

Somehow the inappropriate, insensitive things people say still shock me sometimes.

Maybe I’m too sensitive about eating disorder and mental health-related comments, maybe others are too insensitive about what they say, and maybe it’s a combination of the two.  Either way, my blood boils at some of the comments that have come my way.

When is it okay to defend yourself and call them out, and when do you have to do an awkward smile and nod in the name of being polite?

Sure, some people are completely oblivious, and I have to somewhat excuse them for careless remarks.  A casual acquaintance might say something like “gosh, I wish I was as tiny as you!”, and I kind of have to shrug it off.  I know it’d be out of line to make an issue of it about every time something like that was said to me.  That doesn’t, however, make it okay for people to comment on my, or anyone else’s, size.

I used to work at the mall, at a clothing store, and my boss would constantly point out how small I was.  Of course, there was no way for her to know I was only thin because of an eating disorder.  How would she know it was a sensitive topic?

Even after I quit (for unrelated reasons), whenever I’d enter the store, she’d still make comments about how all the clothes were big on me, how I hadn’t put on any weight, how I was just so skinny!  Nothing was said in a malicious way, but obviously I didn’t exactly take it as a compliment, either.  After a while I just avoided that store, not wanting to put myself in such an uncomfortable position.  Lately, it’s not so much awkwardness that keeps me away; I’m more afraid that she’ll say something and I’ll explode with rage.

Do you realize I’ve been dealing with an eating disorder for the past ten years??  Do you think I’m not incredibly aware of how big or small I am??  Did you not consider for a moment, that my size is NONE of your business?!?

With my ex-boss, I’ve managed to restrain myself from responding the way my reflexes want to.  I find it an awful lot harder to keep my cool when it’s someone who knows better making the comments.

Tuesday of this week was a holiday for Remembrance Day, and Wednesday, like always, I spent the day at the outpatient treatment center, Hope.  So yes, I was off work two days this week, but everyone in my office knows where I am on Wednesdays, and why.  That didn’t stop a coworker from greeting me Thursday morning, “Well you’ve had a nice long holiday!”  I didn’t even try to hold back a sarcastic, “yeah, nine hours of therapy is quite a holiday!”

Maybe I should have been nicer, but I know her attitude about my situation.  She’s asked me several times now how much longer I think “this will be an issue”, and it’s very clear how seriously she doesn’t take mental health and its treatment.  But does she seriously think I’m taking a fun day off every Wednesday?  Let me tell you, more times than not, those days at Hope are a full-on mental struggle, and tears are involved pretty often.  Yep, what a holiday!

I wish I could say that these two are rarities, and that most people know when to shut up.  But it seems like everyone, or the majority of people, feels the need to voice their opinions and unnecessary comments.  Whether it’s an innocent-enough remark gone bad, an insensitive joke, or a subtle jab from my own grandmother, I’ve held my tongue more times than I can count.

I know I’ve written about ignorance and insensitivity regarding mental health before, but clearly it’s an issue that sparks my temper.  I wish people would learn to mind their own business, but I know that’s an unrealistic wish.  In any event, I should probably direct my frustration and rage into blogs like this, instead of releasing it onto the people who cause it.  Stay tuned for more anger-fueled blog posts, I guess!

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3 thoughts on “Mind Your Own Business

  1. My thoughts exactly. There will be day when I’ll wake up proud of my body, proud of the weight I’ve gained, proud of the fact that I’ll let myself eat whatever I want. Then someone will comment, “You’re so small! I can’t get over how tiny you are.” or “I wish I could eat as healthy as you!” Sometimes, we say things that we don’t realize will hurt somebody else. I think that’s why we need to move our comments from ones about body size or food to ones that praise intelligence, strength, and our inner characteristics. You never know what battle someone might be fighting every day.

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  2. Emma – those comments that people make cut me to the quick. When I’m having a good day, I try to take a breath and respond in a manner my higher power would want me to respond. Yes, I’d love to scream out that I disappear every Thursday because that’s the only day my dietician can see me, and so it’s not a “day off” – it’s as real as if I had to go for any other chronic flare-up of a medical condition.

    The next time people comment about your size, kill ’em with kindness. “Oh, aren’t you sweet! I just worry sometimes that talking about it may make someone feel uncomfortable about their size. But I appreciate your intentions and your openness.”

    Someone did a study recently that found that women co-workers complimented each other on appearance, while male co-workers complimented each other on accomplishments. Maybe that’s the way to turn it around. “I’ve worked really hard to be healthy and balanced, and I’m glad you think I’ve been successful at it.”

    But it’s also a good thing just to rant, isn’t it? I think you’re a fabulously strong woman who is working hard to take care of herself. But because I’m a woman, I’m going to add – and you’re a beautiful woman too 🙂

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