This year, I came across something truly disturbing in the Halloween aisle: diet pills.
There they were, sitting right next to the fake blood and vampire teeth. The advertisement showed a woman in a sweater with an elk on it patting her stomach while someone offered her a slice of pie.
Talk about a nightmare before Christmas.
A local city government has already started rolling out their "don't gain weight this holiday season" campaign, complete with rules on how large your slice of pumpkin pie should be.
The last thing anyone needs is some city official arbitrarily deciding how much pie we get! How dare they try to take my precious gigantic pie piece away!
WE MUST TAKE BACK THE PIE!
I get a little emotional when it comes to pumpkin pie, as it is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. Not only am I passionate about pie, but I'm also easily riled up when I see people shaming others under the pretense of helping them.
Putting diet pills next to large bags of candy and regulating the size of a stranger's slice of pie are just two of the hundreds of examples of body shaming that happens during the holidays. It's no wonder this is one of the hardest times of the year for people.
But fear not! It is my mission in life to help you overcome shame and learn to love, accept and respect your body as it is right now, so I'm here to help you combat holiday body shaming before it starts.
Here are some ways you can start now to prepare yourself to fight holiday body shaming.
Use neutral language when referring to food.
There is no "good," "bad," "guilty," or "clean" anymore in your food vocabulary. Food is a choice every individual gets to make for themselves, and you no longer judge yourself or others for what they choose to eat at any given moment.
When others judge food around you, it can be hard to know what to say. Try this phrase suggested by Bevin Branlandingham from a post she wrote for Jes Baker's body-positive blog TheMilitantBaker.com:
"Cultivating a culture of food enjoyment is really important to me. I would love to enjoy this delicious food instead of assigning value to it."
To learn more about using neutral language in reference to food, check out the links on my positive influence page.
Avoid fighting hate with more hate.
The answer to fat shaming isn't skinny shaming. All bodies are worthy of love and respect. Every body deals with its own insecurity issues and -- unfortunately -- no body is free from feeling shame.
Compliment your friends more.
Engage them in deep conversations about their worth. Ask what words they like to use to describe themselves. Hold space for their expansion. Encourage them to grow.
Talk openly about body shaming.
In the same way shame can make you feel vulnerable to and isolated from others, talking about shame can make you feel supported by and connected to those who have suffered similar shame as you have. When you start to feel shame, say so. Naming shame takes away its power.
When others say something shameful about their body, reassure them that it's okay to be insecure but you love them for who they are and how they look right now. Practicing reassuring others will help you reassure yourself when you get shamed and set a no-shaming standard for those around you.
With a few simple changes to your vocabulary and phrasing around bodies and food, you can make this holiday season a shame-free one for yourself and your loved ones.
This is part of a three week series I'm doing on preparing to fight holiday body shaming before it starts. Next week, I'll give you some tips for how to respond to the dreaded question, "are you sure you need that extra piece of pie?" Make sure you get the whole series by joining my mailing list or following me here on Huffington Post.
Lauren Marie Fleming takes the guilty out of pleasure. An audacious storyteller, she wrote the book Bawdy Love: 10 Steps to Profoundly Loving Your Body, hosts the Bawdy Love podcast, and leads the #BawdyLove revolution, a movement to banish shame and fill our lives with decadence, delight, and joy. For more from Lauren, visit LaurenMarieFleming.com.