I always thought of myself as an emotionally and spiritually strong person, and full of self-love and self-worth.
Then I met someone who made me question myself.
This year, I decided to log into a dating site out of sheer boredom during COVID-19.
I met this so called spiritual and “woke” person.
It made me happy to find a kindred spirit to have deep conversations and soul-satisfying moments with.
It wasn’t at all what it seemed, though. That person turned out to be one of the most superficial people I know, and before I knew it, I was wading through knee-deep issues of body shame and self-hate toward my body.
I generally take everything as a lesson in life, as I have grown spiritually over the years, but I was surprised at the speed that I fell into this body validation trap with him and suffered while knowing at the back of my mind it was all wrong. I don’t know why I couldn’t pull myself out of it.
Then it made me remember incidents of my colleagues and friends in such relationships and almost judging them for putting up with it.
As the saying goes, you have to experience it to have real compassion about any issue. And after my experience, it became crystal clear to me how quickly we can become helpless in the middle of something like this and forget everything we know—even for a couple of moments.
And real damage can happen in those moments.
I would like to share some subtle signs and incidents by which you can determine the superficiality of such a person, because they are really sly and will give you sugarcoated insults, which may be difficult to see—especially if emotions are involved:
Here are four signs you’re in a relationship with a body-shamer:
1. Insults are paired with compliments.
Such as, “You have such a pretty face, but only if you were a tad bit fitter.” It is not okay for someone to say this, and it has nothing to do with fitness; they are just projecting their standards of beauty onto you. They’re also crossing your boundary of personal space and self-love.
2. They try to frame it as a benefit to you.
If you object to the body shaming they are doing, they might say, “You should also tell me what to improve in myself. I will do it too. I am only doing it because it is best for you. We should both become better versions of ourselves.”
At this point, you might agree with them, but if all the suggestions are about the flesh vehicle only, it’s not for your best. It is because they are obsessed with looks and are superficial. If you want that in life, great, but I wouldn’t like to keep such people around.
And you might never be perfect enough for them because they themselves aren’t even perfect enough for themselves.
3. They are always fishing for compliments.
They’re always looking for compliments about their looks or their body, or just compliments in general. It might look like they are seeking validation from you, and might make you happy in the short term, but it’s unhealthy and you might end up seeking validation from them too—and that is a dangerous zone where you lose your power. That is how you get roped in.
4. They are not sensitized to how you are feeling and they’re not really interested in you.
They might give you the attention, but it’s the wrong kind of attention. Do not fall for it. Look for genuine signs of interest; that person will want to know you beyond your physical features. This part may be difficult to judge because they might show interest, but it won’t be genuine.
I don’t know why I had this experience, but I deem it vital to share it. Although this experience was short, it was tough and it affected me. I started hating my body immediately. I started thinking less of myself and totally started ignoring the good genetics I have, like my skin and hair, and started obsessing over every little detail.
Did it help me become better ? No, it made me shut down myself and drown in self-pity.
I am blessed to have a great spiritual practice so it wasn’t long before I realized the wrongness of this whole situation, and put that person out of my life. But still, by the time I did it, I was eating worse and not working out. I put on 10 extra pounds and had to go through the process of self-love, and self-acceptance, and lots of self-care again—which I could have avoided.
I decided to delve deeper into my self-love, and then asked myself how or why I could have allowed this to happen to myself—because I loved myself, genuinely.
I realized I had family patterns of the “thin is beautiful” ideal running for generations, and there were still some family or ancestral beliefs in my system, which I hadn’t worked on.
This brief but tormenting experience lead me to those patterns and to writing this article.
I’d been body-shamed before, but I shelved it—but no longer.
Any spiritual and emotional journey has layers, and hopefully this was the last layer.
Even if someone loves you, cares for you, or is your family—don’t allow them to cross your boundaries of self-love. This is your body and it is ultimately a channel of spiritual growth, and even if you don’t believe that, it is a means to enjoy this world.
If you love your body, it always loves you back.
Care for it, love it, and feed it good food and good thoughts so that you can enjoy your material and spiritual journey.
Remember, it’s a vehicle, so take care of it, love it, and do not get unhealthily attached to it.