The Holidays Can Be Hostile to Plus Size Folks— Here’s How I Survive


November, the official start of the holiday season, is usually a time filled with joy, celebration, and family. For me and many of my plus size counterparts, it can bring about the opposite types of emotions: self-doubt, anxiety, and isolation– all due to societal expectations and body image concerns. This article is to empower my plus size people who struggle with acceptance during the holidays and equip them with tips to overcome that seasonal consternation.

Growing up in a Jamaican household, getting together for family functions was a prime source of uneasiness because, somehow, my weight always became the main focus. The “concern” for my weight created an atmosphere where I wasn’t even comfortable enough to eat at these functions. For many years, I loathed the time of year when the holidays would approach. My only wish was that the season would end as soon as it arrived. 

Factors That Contribute to Uncomfortable Holiday Moments as a Plus Size Person

The holiday season didn’t just become an uncomfortable time of year for plus size folks. There are several factors that contribute to the vibes: unrealistic beauty standards, media exclusion, and society’s weird obsession with assigning morality to food.

Society often promotes unrealistic beauty standards, which can make holiday gatherings feel intimidating and judgmental. We deal with that year-round. Then, when you look to media like Hallmark movies (which are a great source of joy this time of year), they show the holiday season as a time for slender bodies, reinforcing the idea that only certain body types are acceptable during this time of year. The lack of representation can make plus-size individuals feel excluded and discouraged from embracing the festivities. 

Additionally, certain foods are often labeled as “sinful” or “guilt-inducing,” leading to feelings of shame or guilt when indulging in holiday treats. These factors are just that– factors. Now that we’ve identified and acknowledged things that may cause us to feel a bit on edge during the holiday season, let’s get into my 3 ways to survive (and maybe even enjoy) the holiday season.

3 Ways to Survive the Holidays as a Plus Size Person

  1. Practice Self-Love

Learning to love yourself and see your body in a positive light is the most crucial part of overcoming the holiday season, especially when dealing with a family who can be insensitive to your self-image. Remind yourself that your worth isn’t only tied to your appearance, but also do the work on truly loving your body. Start with exploring your body and finding parts you adore. Praise your body and express gratitude for its strength and resilience. 

2.  Find a Supportive Community

Surround yourself with people who will support and uplift you. It’s always helpful to have a positive community of supportive friends when faced with negativity. These are the people who will stand up for you and affirm that you are perfect just the way you are! 

Pro tip: Search for plus size events that are happening around the holiday season and attend them. Participating in events where the focus is positivity around bigger bodies will lift your spirits and prepare you for the family time you may be dreading. 

3. Speak Up 

It’s okay to speak out and establish boundaries with your loved ones! Establishing boundaries allows you to focus on your well-being and be more present during the holidays. When comments are made that don’t align with your views, address those triggering statements right away. 

Explain to family and friends that statements pertaining to your body make you feel uncomfortable and don’t align with your views. Use your voice to promote inclusivity. Encourage your loved ones to embrace different body types and challenge them to question societal standards of beauty. 

Prioritize Yourself This Holiday Season

As a fellow plus size girlie, I know that even though the holidays should be filled with cherished memories, that is not the reality for many of us. Prioritizing yourself, setting boundaries, and defending your voice can make your holiday season much more bearable. Remember, the joy of the holiday season is not dependent on your size, but on the connections and love we share with others.

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