DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm a member of an intramural volleyball team, and recently I've been facing some disrespectful comments from one of my teammates. They have been body-shaming me for my weight and making remarks about my appearance that have started to affect my confidence on and off the court. I love playing volleyball and being part of the team, but these comments are making it difficult for me to enjoy the experience. I believe everyone should be supportive and encouraging in a team environment, but I'm not sure how to address this situation without causing more tension. What advice do you have for handling body-shaming within a sports team? How can I navigate this issue and maintain a positive team dynamic? -- Body Shamed
DEAR BODY SHAMED: If at all possible, confront this player and ask them to stop. You can say, “OK, you’ve had enough fun at my expense. Can we get back to the game?” You can also speak to your coach. But in sports, it’s often best for you to be able to shrug off such comments and stand your ground.
In sports, as in life, it’s all about strategy. The ones who get in your head gain control. It is your job not to let that happen. So instead of beginning to believe the negative things this person (or anybody else) has to say to you, create personal affirmations of your own that you repeat to yourself each day -- and especially when you are being degraded. Remind yourself of how great you are, of your worthiness to be loved, of your gratitude that you can play volleyball in your own body. Shower yourself with loving thoughts, and surround yourself with people who care about you. That will help this one person’s negativity diminish.