real life

'This year I've gained weight. I'm already dreading the comments from my family at Christmas.'

Christmas is literally just around the corner, shopping centres are playing Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You,’ on repeat. 

My mother has called me at least five times to discuss what meat we are eating on Christmas Day, (so far it’s pork and ham) and my body is beginning to fill with a mix of anxiety and excitement at seeing family members after such a long and rigorous year apart - particularly because this year I’ve gained weight. 

Yes, I have gained weight and no I don’t want to talk about it. If you do want to talk to me about it - I suggest chugging some wine down your throat instead and leaving me alone.

Watch: How to improve your daughter's body image. Post continues below.


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Why? Because it actually just doesn’t matter.

I promise you the size of my jeans is the least interesting thing about me and quite frankly I still look great and I’m still me. 

The same Mary from last year that started a conversation with this clanger, “I heard you just lost your soccer final?” 

I promise my weight gain will not make me a better or worse conversationalist, so why does it matter? Yet it will still become a talking point and I’m stuck trying to mentally prepare for it. 

To brace myself for the casual commentary that still has the potential to ruin my Christmas cheer but honestly never my Christmas appetite. (My mother is an excellent cook.) 

In a perfect world I’d be beyond these comments and they’d roll off my back like a rogue mini bread roll on a crammed Christmas table - but you know what? 

I’m human and a 'compliments only' policy would be appreciated - let’s face it, we all seek approval from our families. 

I want to make it clear that gaining weight isn’t actually a bad thing at all. 

It’s been one of those years where thanks to lockdowns, I’ve spent the majority of my time stuck inside my tiny inner city house and I’ve been discovered things like chilli cheese pasta and Banoffee Tim Tams -and because of these excellent finds I have gained weight. 

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This isn’t good or bad, it just IS and I am fine with it. I still feel good, attractive, healthy, even sexy but I know to some members of my family it will be seen as a failure and a shortcoming. 

Having to face their disapproval, no matter how meaningless I know it is, isn’t fun. 

Ever since I was a child, Christmas has been synonymous with my weight. 

From when family members would discuss my “puppy fat” as if I wasn’t in the room, to being told when I was still playing with Barbies that after Christmas I should focus on “losing weight.” 

Or being advised not to eat too much pavlova on Christmas Day because I don’t “need” it. 

My body has always been a topic of conversation around the festive season and it has often killed my festive spirit. 

It’s hard to look forward to eggnog when you know your body will be torn apart via a casual comment from a relative. 

It also gets under my skin that men in my family are exempt from these comments. Men are allowed to expand and women are only allowed to shrink. 

In some ways Christmas Day has felt like my yearly weight assessment. That one day of the year where various family members gawk at my body and tell me what is wrong with it - and there was always something wrong with it. 

I never passed the test because honestly I’ve never been thin and therefore that has meant my body is up for debate and feedback. 

Diets are suggested, criticisms are given and backhanded compliments are offered - forget pass the roasted vegetables, I’m usually hit with pass the internalised fat phobia. 

It’s unoriginal, and it’s tiring. Sometimes I know it serves only to make them feel better about themselves. Perhaps they’ve had a hard year but they can take the crown because they are still smaller than me.

Sometimes it’s about the times they grew up in - where being thin was the only option for women so my presence just irks them, it doesn’t feel right and they need me to be smaller. 

Sometimes I think it’s purely because they think they are being helpful. But I’ll tell you this for free. 

If you find yourself commenting on anyone’s weight during Christmas, no matter the context - you are being an arsehole. 

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Stop! Go fill up your plate again and mind your own business. 

I’ve always been fascinated by my family’s interest in my body. Mainly because I’ve never cared what anyone else weighs or looks like. It’s not because I was born a Body Positive angel it’s because I’m inherently self-centred. 

I’ve only ever been concerned with what I look like and how my body feels. Why on earth would I care if some family member has gained five kilos? It simply doesn’t register with me. 

Yet people in my family seem very invested in what I weigh and I often wonder why? Maybe because people can often feel self righteous about weight, being thin makes people feel they are superior. That they are in a position to give commentary because look how great they look, but the truth is if you were truly happy you wouldn’t feel the need to put others down. 

All I know is the older I get, and the more aware I am of the weight of my words, all I want to do around the silly season is make people feel good about themselves. 

So before you open your mouth this Christmas, even if you think it’s just helpful advice, ask yourself, “Will this make this person feel good?” 

If the answer is no, just keep your mouth shut. 

I promise you that same advice has probably already been said to them in a thousand different ways. 

Instead, go and actually be useful and peel a prawn. 

Honestly, it has been a year and despite all my concerns, I feel incredibly lucky that soon I will get to gather with the people that mean the most to me. 

That we will get to sit around the table and argue about politics and pop culture and that my nan will insist we have Christmas pudding for dessert even though she’s the only one who eats it. 

At some point, my mother will disappear because she’s having a hot flush and my father will pass out on the lounge shirtless. 

I will be reunited with my sister, meet her new puppy, and all will be jolly. But what I most want for Christmas is less critique and more joy that we made it. 

We are all together. We are all healthy, and there’s a whole lot of love to sit back and savour. (Not to mention that pork crackling!) 

And if you feel the urge to comment on anyone's weight, stop yourself. Go fill up your plate and be merry!

Feature Image: Supplied.