How to Love Your Body on Thanksgiving

Tips for navigating the biggest food holiday of the year, while still loving your body and staying confident.
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Tips for navigating the biggest food holiday of the year, while still loving your body and staying confident.

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?

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!