How to react to criticism about your appearance (weight, clothing, etc.)?

Unless you are a great sage, remarks about our weight, our age, our physique or the way we dress, often have trouble passing. But then what to do and what to retort?

Haven’t you gained a few pounds lately?”,” I didn’t remember that dress hugged you so much ”,“ You have to eat a lot of fast food ”…“ Hearing this kind of remarks can cause a feeling of intrusion sometimes terrible because it means that the person observes our body attentively, analyzes Ariane Calvo. In addition, it implies that we let ourselves go while other factors can come into play: stress, hormonal imbalances, advanced age … It is all the more hurtful if we do a lot. of unsuccessful efforts. ”

What to do ?

If it is a relative (family, friends, spouse): just ask the person what their intention is when they tell us this, for example “What are you trying to tell me?”. “To leave him the possibility of explaining himself thus allows to open the dialogue and to see what is really behind his remark. Ariana Calvo explains. If that person really cares about us (our health, our social life …), but recognizes his awkwardness : this answer is soothing because it defuses the fear of no longer being loved and / or of being judged as someone weak. These are very recurring fears when we are attacked on our weight.

If she thinks that we are neglecting ourselves: ” We must then question the nature of the relationship with this person, the esteem and love that he has for us. “Even if it means asking the question frankly:” In your eyes, am I less well, less beautiful, with a few extra pounds? ” And tell him that she drew hasty conclusions about this weight gain, and that she missed out on the other reasons: stress, menopause … “But if we feel that it is not worth the trouble, it is sometimes important to put some distance, because a relationship with a loved one who is not benevolent is not possible. »Recalls Ariane Calvo.

If it’s at work (colleague, supervisor …): ” It’s important to immediately and firmly set limits, at the risk of entering into a relationship of denigration, paternalism or motherhood, ”insists Dr. Jean-Christophe Seznec. Saying for example: “My weight is my concern, please don’t tell me again.” Same thing if it is about a person whom one knows little, like a neighbor or a distant acquaintance.

A comment on our size or that of our chest, our saddlebags, the shape of our nose, our deepening wrinkles … can be very painful, especially since nothing can be changed.

What to do ?

If we are in a relationship of affection and trust with the person: we can then allow ourselves to express our emotion by telling her that it hurts us that she notes such or such detail of our physique. ” If the person is kind, they will regret and apologize », Says Ariane Calvo. Otherwise, we can To ask questions : “Why are you pointing this out?”, “What are you trying to tell me? Do you find it ugly? ” “It puts the other face to face with what they are doing and sets a limit: in a relationship of affection, it is not allowed to hurt. ”

If you feel comfortable with self-mockery: we gently nail his beak! “ Do tons of it laughing yourself where it hurts can allow both to let off steam and turn the situation against the other. “He throws us for example a spade on the shape of our nose? We reply: “You’re right, and I’m going to become a truffle pig and put my pockets in my pockets with this nose that you find so ugly!” A variant that can also throw off: retort, especially if the other finds a physical sign of our advancement in age (a new wrinkle, hair that is whitening …): “Maybe, but I also have a brain, a heart, a great job, golden friends, lots of projects … ”.

If we feel that there is a rivalry behind: “By a defense mechanism and without necessarily being perverse, some people who have a fairly degraded idea of ​​themselves need, to feel better, to point out the flaws in others », Explains Ariane Calvo. Trying to make him aware of it in him asking open-ended questions can invite reflection. It can also initiate the other to a change in behavior: “Do you realize that you are denigrating me? Is it to feel good? Is it possible that we are both good people? ”.

If we have the impression that there is a desire to degrade us: if the other, be it a parent, a friend, a colleague, allows themselves to use our vulnerabilities to hurt us, “then the relationship is not healthy, and you really have to keep the person away, see them less, if not at all. ».

” It’s important to contextualize the situation », Advises Dr Jean-Christophe Seznec. There are situations where a criticism of our outfit can be justified.

What to do ?

If it’s at work: it is necessary accept criticism if it is justified. For example : ” If we are in contact with customers and / or suppliers, and that the way we dress does not match the image of the company we are supposed to wear. ” However, it should not be tolerated if you work in an office without contact with the outside. : “We must therefore not hesitate to answer with a question which often will throw the person off the hook. For example: “How does my appearance interfere with the effectiveness of my work?” “.

If it comes from the family: “In the private and intimate sphere, no one has the right to judge our clothing choices. »In the face of criticism, react with the question : “What bothers you in my outfit?” Is sometimes enough to cut the discussion short. “But if the person insists, it is better to use the cat technique: take a distance, change rooms when they approach. Or even use silence, which can be a very good weapon, ”advises the psychiatrist. We look at the person without saying anything, implying: “Do you have something more interesting to say?”.

In all cases : “If the criticism affects our privacy, immediately set a limit to defuse verbal aggression. »A remark on our short skirt, our neckline? It is advisable to reply, for example: “What you say bothers me, I ask you to keep your opinion to yourself.” If we don’t feel capable of it, we can also go from rooster to donkey: “What is your car insurance?”, “When are you going on vacation?”.

3 tips that work in all situations

1. Try to stay calm: reacting with anger, aggression or counterattack does not solve anything and even risks making the situation worse. “It also shows the other that he hit where it hurts, information that he could then use to hurt us again,” adds Ariane Calvo.

2. Postpone the answer: if you don’t know how to react at the time, you can drop a simple “I’ll get back to you later” and give yourself time to think about a strategy suited to the situation.

3. Avoid justifying yourself: this puts us in a position of inferiority vis-à-vis the other and / or exposes us to a counter-argument, therefore to a new criticism.

Strengthening your self-esteem: why is it important?

It is important to have self-confidence ” Because there is a very strong correlation link between the way we see ourselves, positive or negative, and our level of sensitivity to comments that are made to us: the more calm we are with who we are, internally and externally, the less impact what others think of us has ”, says Ariane Calvo.

Knowing yourself well is already a first step in improving your self-esteem : that is to say, questioning what pleases us, makes us feel good and really relies on our strong aspirations, our skills and our resources. “By learning to know all these aspects of oneself, we are more solid in the way others look at us. “.

For further : Knowing how to be silent, knowing how to speak, Jean-Christophe Seznec and Laurent Carouana, InterÉditions, € 18.90. Self-defense manual against psychological violence, Ariane Calvo, First Éditions, € 16.95.

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How to react to criticism about your appearance (weight, clothing, etc.)?

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