‘Have you lost weight, you look amazing’
The above title is a common greeting that you might hear from friends, family or colleagues if you appear to have reduced your body shape or size (I don’t know when ‘hello’ became unpopular, but here we are)
For me, this statement is NOT a compliment (nor a greeting) and as a community that is becoming increasingly savvy to mental health and well-being, I think it might be time to start phasing out the ‘body commentary’ that has become a little too entrenched in how we choose to engage with people
It’s a tricky one because on the surface it seems like a compliment, but when we delve a bit deeper, what is this type of commentary really saying to the person on the receiving end?
That they weren’t amazing BEFORE they lost weight?
That their weight loss is the source of their amazingness?
That you are silently judging them when they haven’t lost weight?
That you place a high value on their weight status for some reason?
I’ve noticed it more and more in recent years and it makes me uncomfortable when I am on the receiving end of it, and even more uncomfortable when I see others on the receiving end of it
I try to coach my clients on this point with open and honest conversations about self esteem and body image flexibility, especially those who have come from a strongly weight focused background
We often come back to the same points as we endeavour to improve our own relationships with our bodies
- Your weight on the scales does not define you as a person
- Your size and shape does not define you as a person
- You get to decide what attributes you think are valuable to you (if body image is one of these, then that is a personal choice that is yours to make)
- Assuming that other people want to have their bodies judged, or commented on is a mistake and can be damaging (especially if you don’t know the person very well)
- There are a broad range of body shapes and sizes that can be healthy and comfortable
- Other people’s bodies are their own business (unless they choose to make it your business by asking you directly what you think)
- Weight loss or shape change can happen for a variety of reasons that may not be healthy or safe (injury, poor health, illness, mental ill-health, stress, eating disorders) and body image commentary in any of these situations could be damaging
There is a big movement at the moment towards body acceptance and body positivity, which you might be interested to look at if you’ve found yourself on the receiving end of unwelcome body image commentary, or just perhaps if you’re interested in learning a bit more about how to support the people close to you in your life
I have recently been listening to a really good podcast that discusses these issues amongst other interesting topics in the realm of body image health
This isn’t intended to be critical of anyone who is a ‘body commenter’ but more intended to provoke a bit of thought around the topic as we all strive to improve our health and well-being, so that we can be more aware of the impact that throwaway comments could be having on those we interact with