It’s easy to take a cheap shot at women by criticizing how they look.
People you don’t even know feel comfortable commenting about your weight.
Devina Kaur has had enough.
In this week’s YBTV interview, #SexyBrilliant founder Devina tackles body image. Why do we feel less lovable because of our weight? Why is it harder to love ourselves when we feel we’ve put on weight? Why do complete strangers think it’s funny to make a rude comment about someone’s weight?
And even more importantly…
How can we stand up and combat the epidemic of fat shaming—not just for our sake, but for the sake of our children?
What You’ll Learn
Devina Kaur isn’t ashamed of admitting she’s fat.
“This is the fattest I’ve ever been in my life,” she says. “I’ve struggled with depression in the last year, and I had a death in the family, a business failure … but I’m the same person that I was when I was thinner.”
You might have already judged Devina instantly on the basis of that single word:
It’s not a comfortable word. It sounds like an insult. It certainly isn’t the kind of word most people would apply to themselves.
What is it about THAT word—as opposed to words like rude or short or old—that commands so much power?
Fat Shaming in Childhood
Devina grew up hearing the message, “Stop eating, because if you’re too fat, nobody is going to want to marry you.”
Her parents were conservative Indians who just wanted the best for their daughter, but Devina took their message to heart. She believed she was unworthy of love because of her weight.
Does a man ever hear, ‘You’re too fat. If you don’t lose weight, you’re not going to be worthy of love'”?
“Fat shaming starts at a young age,” Devina says.
Kids get hit with messages from their parents, gym teachers, doctors … everyone telling them to eat less so they won’t get fat. But they’re not being taught to love themselves exactly as they are.
That’s the message Devina could have used.
Instead, she turned to food to manage her emotions. Today, she’s a recovering bulimic. She wants to make sure that no one feels as if they have to hide because they take up too much space.
Devina will never know how her life would be different if her parents and teachers, instead of telling her she was fat, had helped her see she was “a divine creature who’s so blessed to be born as a human being.” But what she CAN do is make sure that her own daughter gets a different message.
She was shocked to find herself telling her daughter not to eat too much or she’ll put on weight. They were words she’d heard from her own parents many times.
“It takes a lot of mindfulness to get over that and not repeat the same mistakes that our parents repeated,” Devina says. Luckily, her daughter called her out on it.
Fat Shaming at Work
The fat-shaming Devina experienced as a girl hasn’t stopped. It’s just taken a different form.
On her popular LinkedIn profile, she’s had third-degree connections write comments on her posts like, “Lose weight,” or, “You’re too fat,” or, “Cover your breasts.”
She was taken aback. “Why are these men—particularly men—commenting about my size, my body, my way of dressing? Who are these people?”
When it happened again recently, she found it hard to brush off. She burst into tears. “I was upset about something else, and this just rattled me.”
She decided to take action. She made a social media post out of the rude comment and tagged everyone she knew. She blocked the names of the people who’d messaged her, so they wouldn’t gain any exposure from her post. Positive comments from friends flooded in.
When we’re shamed for our weight, it can be easy to believe our attackers. Perhaps they’re right. Perhaps we ARE too fat or need to lose weight.
But making those fat-shaming comments public changes the conversation.
It’s no longer about you. It’s about why we as a society continue to tolerate these kinds of attacks.
Why do people feel they have the right to make nasty comments about someone’s appearance? Why do they think those kinds of comments are clever or funny?
The haters haven’t stopped Devina. She still keeps putting gorgeous pictures of herself out on social media.
It’s taken her a lot of work to get here, to stop feeling unlovable because of her size, but now she knows our job is to “connect with the spiritual brilliance that we’re all gifted with, which says that we are ALL unique, beautiful souls, and we need to admire that about ourselves.”
The Sexy Brilliant Global Revolution
People will continue to judge us, but we must accept ourselves for who we are, and that means our size, our body image, our brilliance, our intelligence, our gifts.”
Devina knew she had to do something to help women overcome the voices telling them they’re too loud, too opinionated, too fat, too strong, too ambitious.
She’d been a people-pleaser all her life. “I did everything by the book. I was the perfect girl .. but on the inside I was very, very unhappy.”
After her marriage ended, she leaped back into the dating scene … only to find herself deep in a dating addiction. “I was struggling with wanting somebody to love me,” she said.
So when someone sent her a text message asking, “How are you?” Devina would reply, “Always sexy, always brilliant.”
It was a positive affirmation that eventually became the way she saw herself. She was sexy. She was brilliant. Her weight didn’t define her self-worth.
Now, she passes that message on to others via the Sexy Brilliant Global Revolution.
Both men and women “have this battle where we’re trying to fit in, trying to please other people, trying to [be] ‘normal,'” she says, but “we’re disconnecting from our authentic self.”
Empowerment is from the inside out. Empowerment is no matter what size we are, no matter what gender we are, no matter how much struggle we’ve all had … and beyond that we’re all sexy and we are all brilliant.”
How to Deal with Nasty Comments
If you’ve experienced a nasty comment about how you look, the first thing Devina recommends is to protect yourself.
If the comment occurred in a professional context, document it. Make sure everything is in writing. Then find someone—or several people, ideally—to talk to about it. Don’t just tell HR. Find confidantes you can trust.
“Do not be afraid to stand up for yourself,” Devina says. “Because what we women do is we are afraid to make a fuss. We’re afraid of losing our job, because we have mouths to feed; we have responsibilities.”
But that’s not a good reason to stay quiet.
“The thing is, we are also examples to our children, we are examples to our colleagues, we are examples to each other,” Devina says. “And if we women support each other, we can eradicate this problem.”
Jump to Topics of Interest
1:47 Fat shaming
3:50 How fat shaming affects kids
5:24 Fat shaming on LinkedIn
6:45 How Devina has come to a place of self-love
7:40 Radical self-acceptance
8:18 The Sexy Brilliant Global Revolution
11:10 Fat or thin, you’re still the same person
13:39 How to react to comments about your appearance
15:38 How Devina reacted when she was shamed on LinkedIn
18:00 Helping kids move from outer beauty to inner beauty
20:02 Starting the Sexy Brilliant global revolution in the next generation
22:54 Photo therapy
Devina is a fun-loving, flamboyant, straight-talking author, entrepreneur, filmmaker and inspirational speaker. After a lifetime of being told she was too fat, too loud and too ambitious, her world fell apart in her 30s when her arranged marriage ended. While looking for purpose and meaning, Devina embarked on a journey of self-discovery that led her to start the Sexy Brilliant Global Revolution.