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Emergency Broadcast – Stop Social Bullying in WLS Community

DssButton2FBEhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh – We interrupt your normally scheduled program for an Emergency Broadcast.

Important Message: #StopSocialBullying in the #WLS Community.

So I’m going to weigh in on this in a fashion I usually don’t. Mostly because I have to be true to myself and my message to this community. I stand up in this community and I tell people, “I will fight for you,” If they try to knock you down I will be in your corner. I will fight against weight bias, weight shamming, weight stigma, bullying and obesity. If you’re a part of #TeamSlenderSeekers I’m in your corner.

When I have been the target of bullying in this community I have done what my Father and Kenny Rodgers taught me, I have turned the other cheek and understood that sometimes I didn’t have to fight. But as that Kenny Rodgers song says “There’s someone for everyone and Tommy’s love was Becky,” my love, my passion and my heart really lays with those who are affected by obesity. And right now, I’m going to prove my word is good… I will stand up and fight against the bullying that I am seeing taking place….

This is going to be long, I am going to tell it like it is, that’s what most of you read my blog for because you know I will always shoot straight with you. Here we go….

These are people I want to help take back control of their lives and often times, the people who are affected by obesity, also deal with issues that deal with body image, lack of self-confidence and lack the courage to stand up for themselves. I’ve always said when I was big; I was really good at being the biggest invisible person in the room.

The transformation that occurs as we start to regain our self-confidence through weight loss is very evident if you go back through the archives of my blog. There was a time I wouldn’t post pictures of myself at all, just little gingerbread type figure pictures that started out big and progressively got smaller with me.

This transformation occurs in our minds as well. We start to gain back that self-confidence, we start to think we’re worthy again; this is evident in how many of us pull away from relationships that we once settled in because we didn’t think we could do any better.

The transformation that occurs in how vocal we are about our feelings is a good thing and is also very evident. For so long so many of us stuffed our feeling down with food and avoided feeling them.  Once food is removed from our tool box as an emotional outlet, we are forced to find other coping skills and that opens up the door for us to also learn to communicate our feelings more.

Now let’s talk about Bullying for a moment.  According to StopBullying.Gov Bullying is defined as: Unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves real or perceived power imbalances. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated over time.  They go on to define “Social Bullying” as: relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. The behaviors they list include: Teasing, Name-Calling, Inappropriate Sexual Comments, Taunting, Threatening to cause harm, leaving someone out on purpose, telling others not to be friends with someone, Spreading rumors about someone and embarrassing someone in public.

Now let me say, I’ve been a part of this community since I attended the OAC #YWM2012 Convention and I have witnessed these sorts of behaviors first hand ever since I attended a became involved with the #WLS Community on Facebook. This issue has been the purple elephant in the room that most people were afraid to talk about. Afraid is a very big word there, people were afraid; they were scared that if they stood up against the behaviors they were seeing they would become the next target.

And I was one of them. I was in the process of a complete career change, trying to start my own business as a Weight Loss Coach and Personal Trainer, I had aspirations to help others fight obesity, the last thing I needed was a lynch mob after me because I had upset the wrong person.

But it happened none the less. Strangely enough the first instance was right after it had been announced that I had received the Sponsorship for the first “How do you Celebrate Success” contest and was giving away to one of my readers a trip to Disneyland to run a Half Marathon that included airfare, hotel accommodations, park tickets and race registration fees.  Just a few days after that the OAC invited me to speak at the #YWM2013 Convention on a panel regarding reconstructive plastic surgery after massive weight loss. This was right around the time that I had been generously gifted by my godfather with the money needed to go forward with another round of reconstructive plastic surgery to assist in my own struggle with body image issues. As these things happened, guess what else happened, I was targeted. Suddenly the topic of “Plastic Surgery as a Transfer Addiction” was what all the cool kids in the community were talking about. My inbox was flooded with “concerned” folks who had read about this in their Facebook Group and felt the need to let me know that they felt I was a prime example of what was being discussed and that perhaps I shouldn’t be accepting my godfather’s gift, or that I needed to be more honest with the OAC because I probably wasn’t a good selection as a speaker on this topic.

The next time I was targeted strangely enough came right after the announcement of the sponsorship of the next “How do You Celebrate Success” contest, where one of my readers had the chance to win a trip to Walt Disney World. The prize again included all of the expenses involved other than food and souvenirs.  I had also just moved all the way across country and taken a brand new job following my dreams and had just been hired by a women’s only gym facility to design their weight loss and wellness program. Dreams I had been working towards for the better part of three years were coming true because of my courage to pursue them and suddenly, a post that I made on Facebook that mentioned no names and said“You can’t tell your coach you are adhering to a program and then post pictures of pizza, beer and cheesecake on Facebook.” was twisted and presented to the public in a post intended to incite them that read…

“I promise you – if my personal trainer publically shamed my fitness, body shape or eating habits of Facebook – I would publically shame them in a very different way.”

The first comment was by the poster herself “Unemployment checks” was all it said, though it hinted encouragement that if it were up to them I’d be fired. Guess what happened next? My employer was getting messages on Facebook along the lines of “It is highly ethical for a Trainer to be discussing their clients on their Facebook page; you should be more careful who you choose to represent your company.”

When my employer got the message, doing what a good employer does they researched it and they next day when I came in they talked to me about it. However when they didn’t respond to the message, the author, a member of the WLS Community, took it to the next level, they published a review of the gym, a gym they are not a member of on Facebook where my employer can’t use administrative rights to remove it, but can only respond to it. The review reported the incident drastically different from what actually happened.

“It’s highly unethical for a trainer to be posting on her FB about her clients! Social Media is not an appropriate place for someone to publicly shame a paying customer while announcing they are a representative of your company on their same page. #pandorawilliams #slenderseekers”

Luckily for me my employer understood the situation and what was happening and their response to the review wasn’t to fire me, but to post that they didn’t agree with the assessment of the situation as shared in the review.

Later that same day another member of the WLS Community wrote in about it too. The sentiment was the same;

“It’s disgusting that you would support a trainer who publicly shames a customer on a social media site. The hope is that this post spreads and it has an adverse effect. Maybe then, you will find it unethical and immoral to support this type of behavior.”

The bullying that has been going on in this community for the last few years; the behaviors where you get unfriended by people you thought liked you because you commented on something or responded in a way they didn’t approve of, attended an event they didn’t want you to go to, we’re friends with someone they don’t like. That is high school drama and if you choose to participate in it you do yourself a disservice. But really, other than a few hurt feelings, well, everyone shows their true colors eventually and the only person you really hurt in the end is yourself.

The problem is, things tend to escalate when it comes to this type of behavior and pretty soon it’s not petty little things like being unfriended on Facebook, now it’s using the power of a group of people who you have influence over to encourage interference in people’s lives. I’ve used an example of how it happened to me above to illustrate this for you.

Forget about the name calling folks, that’s high school too, but when we start seeing posts where people are trying to get someone fired over a post on Facebook, threatening law suits because the name or initials of a group are similar, threatening to call the police to report someone for drunk driving days after you heard it might have happened, sticking your nose in other people’s financial affairs, contacting other bloggers and implying that you’ve lost sponsors because they under sold you on advertisement; is it any wonder that you are losing friends, supporters, sponsors and people willing to fight in your corner? And whether you are actually the one saying these things or not only protects you from libel and slander, it doesn’t change the fact that you are the source of where it is coming from. People get wise to that behavior really quick.

With the recent drama that has flared up in this community, one of the women who felt bullied in this fashion finally stood up for herself and said something. She took what was behind closed doors bullying and brought it to the forefront so that people couldn’t turn a blind eye and ignore it and you know what, good for her. Because we should not be ignoring it, we should not be tolerating it, and we should not be supporting it.

This community should be about supporting each other, not tearing each other down. Many of the people in it have been torn down and torn apart, abused, bullied and picked on for a large majority of their lives; those are some of the very things that lead them to unhealthy weights, unhealthy relationships with food and unhealthy habits. You all have so much in common that there really is no reason to have to focus so much on thing things you don’t and there is certainly no reason to exhibit behaviors that could so negatively impact people’s lives.

If we continue to let this sort of behavior go on behind closed doors and we don’t do what this brave woman did and shine a light on the dark little crevice as a community we stand to lose some of the wonderful people who would be so damaged by this behavior that they’d give up and no longer try to do all the good that they do because they don’t want to be target.

I encourage each and every one of you in this community, the next time you see that vague little post that is meant to incite you and stir the pot and get you react, think for a moment about how manipulative that is and ask yourself, do you want to be that person whose name is out there in the public because you fired a verbal bullet at someone who had the potential to seriously hurt their lives? Do you want to be a part of the social bullying? What you put out there can’t be taken back you know. People might be able to delete posts and hide comments and try to make things go away, but you can’t ever take back the damage you’ve done.

In my circumstance, the woman who shot that bullet when her friend incited her, her name is still there on our Gyms Facebook review page for the entire world to see. And while she was ready to tear me apart over something I didn’t do, she sure wasn’t very vocal about saying thank you for the free registrations I had gifted her and her friends with for a fitness event just a few months earlier. Strange how certain sects of the community only want to talk about what they perceive you do wrong.

So I encourage you not to let it happen in private, public or any fashion. #StopSocialBullying in the WLS Community in its tracks before it takes something really tragic to show you that it’s gotten out of hand. Don’t participate in these sorts of threads. Don’t encourage them. Don’t like them. Don’t comment on them. Don’t be a part of Social Bully in the WLS Community.

This has been a message from your neighborhood Pandora.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

DSSPostSig

Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.

Ten Things to Do When You’ve Got the Body Image Blues

20140511_172453B“I wish you could see yourself through my eyes.”

That’s what someone said to me the other night while I was out and comparing myself to each and every woman in the room and felt like I didn’t measure up. Did you know that often times those mirror shot selfies you see me take are because it helps me see myself a little thinner when I look at a picture of my reflection instead of my reflection itself? Tricks of the body image trade right there folks.  There is a ton of them you don’t see me post, like the ones featured in this article, because I saw some flaw in myself I didn’t want to share with the world.

When I was a teenager I used to babysit for a couple that for one reason or another in my mind were the paradigm of what life should be like. When I imagined myself in my forties they were what I envisioned life would be like. She was beautiful, not exceptionally thin; she had curves and long curly blond hair which is what to this day I still find most attractive when looking at other women.

In their home above their bed there was a photo of her that was taken on her thirty-eighth birthday. Her husband Chris had it taken by a friend of theirs that was a photographer because he knew that she was struggling with the fact that she was getting close to forty and he wanted her to see how beautiful she was and let her know that no matter where they went in life, that time of their lives was a moment he felt she was more beautiful than ever and was how he would always see her.

She was nude in the photo, positioned just right to cover anything that would be crass and allow for the portrait to be artistic, and when the print had come in, he had it framed and hung it above their bed. The first time I babysat for them and saw the photo Diane had told me the story behind and Chris, the type of guy that makes a joke out of everything said “When the print came in I framed it and hung it right away, that way every day when she gets ready she knows how beautiful she is and that way, every day when I get ready, I get to see her naked.”

20140511_172453I’ve always wanted someone to love me like that.  I’ve always wanted someone to want me like that. I always thought when I lost weight that sort of thing would come easy. I always thought that if I lost weight people would be hitting on me constantly, flirting with me all the time, and that someone would want me with sort that kind of sexual hunger.

I’ve struggled with body image issues a lot after my weight loss. I’ve gone through four rounds of serious reconstructive plastic surgery as well as one small procedure and two not so evasive procedures in an effort to get my body to a place where I’m happy with it. After all of that, to this day, setbacks in this area are an easy pitfall for me. I have to tread very carefully.

Let me share a little secret with you Slender Seekers, not feeling loved, and always feeling like I wasn’t good enough were the very issues that drove me to wanting someone to want me. Then when that didn’t work, and those I wanted to want me like that threw me away, those emotions lead me to relationships with food instead of human beings.

We all have demons that we deal with. We all have a past that we cope with. Very few of us are free from “issues” some of us just deal with them in healthier ways than others.  That is one of key’s to keeping the weight off. You have to recognize the real issues and address them before they lead you to unhealthy behaviors.

I own my body image issues every day. I know they are there, and almost every day I have to chase off that little voice inside me that taunts me with negative thoughts. I have to remind myself that I am loved, that I do good things, that I am a good person, that I help people, that I have accomplished some amazing goals. I have to stand in front of the mirror and combat those negative thoughts with positive affirmations so that I don’t let myself drag me down into those dark crevices of insecurity.

For those of you who have days like me; Day where my body image issues start to really wear on me, I have an arsenal of things I do to make myself feel better and I’m going to share some of them with you.


 

  1. Do something for yourself that makes you feel pretty. – Whether it’s a manicure and pedicure, a haircut, getting your eyebrows shaped or even a spa day at home with a mud mask and some cucumbers or that recipe for an all-natural hair conditioner, take them time to do something that makes you feel pretty.

  2. Step away from the pain. – Whatever the source, whether it’s the mirror or the scale or someone who tends to fuel your emotions; walk away.  If you’re having one of those days where you’re spending time standing in front of the mirror analyzing every little thing wrong with your body, go spend that time doing something else rather than fueling the negative emotions that you’re experiencing. Spending more time in front of the mirror or the scale isn’t going to help, nothing is going to suddenly change and make you feel better, so go find something to do that might.

  3. Recall where you came from. – Sometimes this means going back and looking at a picture of myself before I lost the weight, sometimes it’s going back and looking at photos of before my reconstructive surgeries. Sometimes it’s going back and looking at my old run times. But it helps me appreciate where I am and what I have a lot more when I go back and remind myself where I was. Sometimes I’ll snap a new photo and put together a new before and after photo to really send that message home.

  4. Think about who you are. – What do you do? What are you passionate about? What do you love? What motivates you? Think about these things and give yourself self some credit for who you are. When we think about it, most of us want to be loved for who we are, not what we look like.

  5. Work on a project. – Surely there is something you’ve wanted to do? Refocus on something you’ve been wanting, Clean off the patio to make room for some summer sunbathing, put together a scrapbook, bust out the knitting needles and get started on a new scarf with your favorite colors in it. Work on something that you’ve wanted to do for yourself and haven’t gotten around too yet.

  6. Get Moving – Whether you walk, jog, run, swim, bike, movement and momentum motivates us. Do something that moves your body and just enjoy the motion of going forward. It’s amazing how just moving in a forward direction instead of standing still and wallowing in an unpleasant place can help get you back on track.

  7. Do that thing you want someone else to do for you. – If you’re anything like me you’ve got a list of things you wish a certain someone would think about doing for you. Whether you wish they’d bring home a dozen roses or you wish they’d find a photographer to take a half-naked picture of you to hang in the bedroom, stop waiting on them and do it for yourself.

  8. Make a Bucket List, Wish List or To Do List – Don’t stand in front of the mirror making a mental list of everything you wish you could fix about yourself. Instead, go make a real list of all the things you want to do now that you’ve lost weight. Make a wish list of things you’d buy for yourself today if you had an extra $50-$100 lying around.  Make a “to do” list of things you really want to get done around the house. If you’re going to make lists, make them ones that are going to be fun and productive not depressing and self-sabotaging.  You’ll have a go to list of things that just might help improve your mood next time you end up in a bad emotional space as a bonus.

  9. Get Outdoors – I’m not sure what it is about being outside, but whenever I am having a rough day being outdoors helps. Even if I’m stuck at home waiting on the repair man to come fix the air conditioner. Making a cup of hot tea or a glass of lemonade and spending some time sitting on the deck just seems to make things better. Even a quick drive to the market for some fresh lemons with the windows down seems to help improve my state of mind.

  10. Pay it Forward – Guess what, you’re probably not the only one you know that struggles with body image issues or gets self-conscious.  If you’re having a rough day someone else might be too, so why not spend a little time helping someone else get through their rough day. Find a song that lifts you up that you can post on Facebook, pick a flower and give it to someone to remind them that they are beautiful. The things I do for others always helps me feel better.


 

Of course I wouldn’t be a very good Weight Loss or Wellness Coach if I didn’t remind you that exercise is a great stress relief, very rarely do I still feel out of shape and overweight after a good workout and even  if I do, the workout has made me feel like I am working on my goals about it.

So many women suffer from body image issues. It’s not just those of us that are effective by obesity or lost massive amounts of weight or had huge weight loss transformations, its women in general; you’d be shocked at some of the beautiful women you know who have struggled with their body image from years. I think it’s important to know that you are not alone in this struggle.

For those of you that have friends like I do, that care about what you are going through and really wish that you could see yourself through their eyes, do yourself a favor, give them a package of post it notes and a pen and ask them to write down some things about how they see you. Stick those notes on the sides of your mirror and remind yourself when you are looking into it to not to be your own worst enemy or your own worst critic. Use them as a reminder to be kind to yourself and to treat yourself the way you want others to treat you. You deserve it.

DSSPostSig

Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.
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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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