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How to Love Your Body on Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving Body Positivity
Photo Credit

I’m going to reveal an unpopular opinion: Thanksgiving is one of my least favorite holidays. (I know, what?) Maybe it’s that I’m not a fan of cranberry sauce. Maybe it just feels anticlimactic, being wedged between my two absolute favorite holidays (Halloween and Christmas).

One thing I’m sure of: Thanksgiving is a really hard time to love your body.

For one thing, is there a single holiday with a greater emphasis on food? Not that I’m aware of. Now, I love food, but when I feel like the entire purpose of the holiday is to eat an uncomfortably large meal, it can kind of warp my mindset on the whole thing.

Also, ever since I’ve gone to college, random members of my extended family have decided it’s acceptable to comment on my body whenever they see me. I guess they decided the “freshman fifteen” (and whether my cousins and I have been affected by it) is a great topic of conversation. It’s really not, and I know my family isn’t the only one that does this. Blame the constant objectification of young female bodies across society, I guess. Anyway, if I want to know if I’ve gained weight, I’ll step on a scale or talk to a doctor, not ask Aunt Sandy what she thinks of my ‘figure’.

I’m always tempted to make some rude comment about her recent eye job, but far be it from me to start drama at the dinner table.

So, here we are, surrounded by food that we’re expected to (over)eat, and also surrounded by people who seem to think it’s okay to comment on our bodies. What’s a girl to do?

Thanksgiving table
Photo Credit

These tips help me feel good about my body over Thanksgiving break:

1. No pressure.

If you aren’t in the mood for stuffing, you really don’t have to eat it (even if Aunt Sandy is going to give you the side-eye). Don’t let anybody tell you what you have to eat! If you’re full, you’re full.

And this goes the other way, too. If you decide at the end of dinner that you want a slice of pumpkin pie and a slice of pecan, go for it. Why not? The only person who gets to decide what you’re going to eat is you. Also, pie is awesome.

2. Know your boundaries.

If the conversation moves into weird and negative territory, you can direct it elsewhere! You have the power! I usually start by changing the subject to something like classes or summer plans, but don’t be afraid to speak up if someone is truly making you uncomfortable. Societal change starts with you!

I promise: It’s not that hard to calmly say, “I’d rather we not talk about my body right now, or, like, ever, thanks,” and it’s so worth it.

3. Don’t you have a paper to write? You probably have a paper to write.

One of the other hard things about Thanksgiving break is that, if you go to school far away, it’s probably your first time going home since the start of the school year. Suddenly you’re back in your old bedroom surrounded by the photos you decided not to bring with you and you feel fifteen all over again.

It’s hard to excuse yourself during family bonding time, but if you bring some work with you, you have an excellent excuse to go hang out at Starbucks for a few hours. Taking a breather from all the hubbub is nice, and even better, you might actually get ahead on school work!

4. Do what feels good to you.

Make a list of things that make you feel good about your body and/or make you forget about it entirely (e.g. going hiking, taking a bath, hanging out with friends, whatever). Keep the list in your pocket. Then, if you’re feeling down, go do those things!

If exercise pumps you up, go for a run or something! If you hate exercise, don’t exercise! If you want to wear a bunch of giant sweaters, do that! If you’d like to wear nothing but spandex all week, go for it. Just find something that makes you feel awesome and do it. My personal list? Watching Law and Order, sitting on the floor of my local bookstore trying to read magazines without buying them, and walking around with my dog.

What do you think?

How are you going to keep your head on straight this Thanksgiving? How do you respond to unnecessary comments about your body by well-meaning relatives? What do you do to love your body? Tell us your survival strategies by leaving a comment!

Posted on on November 18, 2012 / Filed Under: College Life / Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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19 Responses to “How to Love Your Body on Thanksgiving”

  1. 1
    November 18th, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Wow what a great post seriously this is so body-positive! Everybody read this and take it to heart!

  2. 2
    November 18th, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Really, really good advice.

  3. 3
    November 18th, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Love it, and especially needed during the holiday season. Body positivity all the way!

  4. 4
    November 18th, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Such a wonderful post! As a young woman who has suffered from bulimia for 5 years, (now recovered yippe!), family holiday meals are always the hardest!
    Thankyou for making such a great post! :)

  5. 5
    November 18th, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    I agree! I use to enjoy the enormous amounts of food, but now when I overeat I feel guilty and gross – it’s nice to see a topic about NOT stuffing yourself crazy-full during the holiday.

  6. 6
    November 18th, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    This is an amazing post with great advice. It’s refreshing to hear truly body-positive advice and not the kind of “advice” that just adds to the guilt, as many magazine have. I love my family, but sometimes starbucks escapes are the best! And I’m def going to do #4! Thanks so much!

  7. 7
    November 18th, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    Awesome advice! Accept any talk about weight usually goes like this: Grandma: Did you lose weight!? Me: No, actually I gained 5lbs (shameful look) Grandma: Only 5lbs! Oh my goodness at this rate you are never going to get married to a good man, you need to gain at least 20lbs! Men don’t like skinny women you know! Here, have some more. – Love my Grandma, but it get’s kinda old and a bit awkward. For context, my Grandma lived through the Depression and the Second World War were fat ‘healthy’ women were the ideal, thinner women were the ones that were quite literally starving.

  8. 8
    November 18th, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    I hate thanksgiving, I hate that the entire point is a feast to celebrate an event that helped eradicate the Native American’s entire civilization.

  9. 9
    November 18th, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    So I’m really glad that you posted something like this

  10. 10
    November 18th, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    (not the entire civilization, but you know what I mean)

  11. 11
    November 18th, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    Great body positive post!

  12. 12
    November 19th, 2012 at 1:27 am

    Great post! The whole talk about body weight always occur outside of Thanksgiving too, so advice like making a list of things I like about my own body, speaking up, changing topic, etc are helpful. Thanks!

  13. 13
    November 19th, 2012 at 11:43 am

    thanks so much for this post! im glad to hear that im not the only one that goes through this every time i see my family. they all say it in a light hearted manner, and i know that so I dont take it too hard, but after hearing it constantly from a lot of fmaily and friends it gets to me, but next time it happens im just going to tell them to stop commenting on my body!

  14. 14
    November 20th, 2012 at 2:27 am

    So I’m not the only one! There are a few members of my family who make nasty comments about my weight every chance they get. It’s awkward and just ruins the fun of getting together.

    I really appreciate that you mentioned dealing with OTHER people’s opinions. I get tired of seeing “tips” for the holidays that are really more like diets. It’s important to be healthy, but it’s tough when other people criticize your body (especially family).

  15. 15
    November 20th, 2012 at 6:22 am

    Thanks so much for putting this :) Having just spent my first few days at home since I moved to uni, I’m dreading seeing them at Christmas! Thanks a lot :)

  16. 16
    December 2nd, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    So perfect!! I read this after Thanksgiving, but seriously, this is good advice throughout the holidays and really, for any family meal. My family will generally avoid commenting on my actual physique, but they love to talk about what’s on my plate, as well as the weight loss/gain of any female relatives not present. Thanks so much for posting this!! <3

  17. 17
    December 19th, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Great great great post :) I know that society always is pressuring us to look PERFECT. I have to keep reminding myself that there is no such definition. Ugh- it’s literally disgusting how much mental stress we endure because of these societal ideals that are virtually impossible (nor sustainable) to achieve.

    I love the whole idea of being positive and just doing that makes you happy!! :)

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