About 25 years ago, Linda Bacon brought her partner home for the holidays. Her parents did not approve of the female guest’s masculine look – and told her so. “[My partner] just stood up and walked out,” recalls Bacon, who’s still in a relationship with the woman today. “To me, that was amazing. I had always experienced that same body checking for so long, and I just thought you had to endure it.”
Now Bacon, a San Francisco-based researcher, psychotherapist and author of “Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight,” knows no one has to endure comments about their appearance, although many people are subject to it – especially around the holidays, and especially from loved ones.
“It’s the No. 1 topic that comes up in psychotherapy – people’s fear of the holidays,” Bacon says, due to discussions about dieting, body size and other appearance-related topics. “The family members feel like they’re doing it out of love and concern – they don’t get how problematic it is.”
But it can be. Consider, for example, a mom who reminisces about her son’s slimmer college years or the uncle who pokes fun of his nieces’ generous portion sizes. “Often, that can lead people down a disordered path,” says Christy Harrison, a registered dietitian and intuitive eating counselor in New York City who hosts “Food Psych Podcast,” a weekly show dedicated to helping people make peace with food and their bodies.