Today in “Am I the Asshole,” a woman was kicked out of a body acceptance support group for attending meetings to seemingly receive compliments—and the woman who kicked her out is wondering if she did the right thing.
This is a complicated situation because there are plenty of reasons why a person might need support for body acceptance despite appearing “fine,” including body dysmorphia. However, abusing a space intended for healing to feed your ego is also problematic.
Reddit user throwawayladyduck shared the scenario, explaining that she runs a free body acceptance support group at a community center specifically for people with deformities or disfigurations.
“We make it clear that our support group is made strictly for people with body deformities, amputations, severe scarring, disfigurations of some sort… It is not for people who struggle with self esteem and need a boost,” she says.
“At our first August meeting, a girl showed up whom we’ll call Ashley. There wasn’t anything visibly ‘wrong’ with Ashley, but we didn’t give it much thought since in some cases the scarring or whatever else can be hidden underneath clothes. (In my case, a long sleeved shirt hides nearly all of my upper body burn scarring). However, whenever Ashley spoke, she would never mention what she was struggling with just that she was disgusted with her body.”
At the third meeting, Ashley showed up wearing “a crop top and very short shorts.” She avoided answering throwawayluckyduck’s questions about why she was here.
“Other members asked me what the deal with her was since she went on an other tangent about how disgusting her body was when it was her turn to speak without talking about what her physical defect was exactly or how it was impacting her day to day life.”
So the moderator confronted Ashley during the next meeting and asked why she was there.
“Ashley responded saying we weren’t very ‘nice’, and that whenever she would speak up negatively about her body and such, we would never counter her with a compliment, we would just stay silent or tell her some ‘mumbojumbo’ about how it takes time to come to terms with it.”
At this point, throwawayluckyduck lost her patience and asked Ashley to leave. Ashley contacted the co-organizer and complained about her treatment, saying she “shouldn’t turn away anyone or kick them out because of the way they grieve or deal with trauma.”
“When I tried to explain that I doubted she had any physical defects to begin with, he shut it down saying I’m being an asshole for judging someone as not ‘disabled enough.’ Am I the asshole for kicking her out?”
Reddit users shared their opinion of the conflict, bringing up some good points to consider—and tons of Fight Club references (Marla Singer forever).
“So…if I’m getting this straight you’ve got someone coming into a support group for people who have suffered injuries or body defining illnesses, without any. Talks about feeling gross about her body and then says you’re mean for not complimenting her? Uh…yeah going to say NTA if this is true. That’s someone using a therapy group for validation. She could just as easily post to facebook or some sub-reddits wherever if she wants to fish for compliments,” said user Wanzer-Reznaw.
“OPs actions were tactless. Maybe she is fishing for compliments. But she might have underboob scars and want compliments. She might only see her issues when she’s naked but they may totally wreck her self image, and she might not be comfortable talking about it,” countered user AlexHatch.
JerseyGirlontheGo brought up a potential reason why Ashley might not have looked like she needed real help from the group when she actually did—but just a different kind of support.
“She likely has body dysmorphia, which is a real and debilitating mental illness, but not the target audience for your group. If your other group members have very obvious disabilities or disfigurations, listening to someone who does not have any visible issues may be triggering or traumatizing for them. You’re not required to expose other group members to a harmful experience to boost her self esteem.”
What do you think? Is the poster an asshole for kicking Ashley out of the support group?