Comment on someone’s weight? WAIT!
“Wow, you have packed on the pounds!” Excuse me? What? Really? This is what a man said to me the other day after he looked me up and down with a silly grin on his face. You see, I needed to gain weight because as I was malnourished just a few months before, but his comment stuck with me, and I ruminated over and over these words in my brain. My “people pleasing” mind told me that he didn’t mean it in a bad way because he is older… He just doesn’t know how to give a compliment. Or maybe I just need to learn to give grace to those who “don’t understand.” In the heat of the moment, my eating disorder mind took it as a slap in the face- I wanted to use behaviors to “fix” that weight gain fact that he had pointed out to me. Well, my wise mind had other plans. It told me that is was a highly inappropriate comment that should have never come out of his mouth. Guess which mind won out? Hint- I have worked hard on my recovery…here are a few things that I want to provide thoughts on regarding those who want to talk without thinking:
1. It is never okay to comment on someone’s weight. Ever.
I am going to make a bold statement- It is never okay to comment on someone’s weight, good or bad, ever. I firmly believe this statement. There is a lie that society tells the world that if you achieve ________ weight (or X size) then you will be happy. Then you will be beautiful. Then you will be whole. Well, guess what? Weight does not determine those three factors. I was what society/media deemed as the “perfect weight/size” for all of my teen and adult years, and I was miserable. I was empty. I was burnt out and lost. I didn’t feel beautiful. I didn’t feel worthy. I was a shell of a woman with only a body to place my worth in, and that body was failing me. It was not until I turned away from perfecting my body that I was able to live in it.
2. Any comment on weight can be detrimental
As I struggled with the comment from the man about me “packing on the pounds”, I got a sad message from my neighbor. She struggles with overeating and has recently worked hard to get back to a weight that for her was healthy, and she told me that the comments on the other end of the spectrum are just as hard. She says that when people say “Wow! You look great!” or “You have lost weight, you look fantastic!” that all it makes her feel is like she was not beautiful before when she was a different weight. That those comments make her feel pressured to continue to lose/maintain, even if she feels good how she is. When is enough, enough? I will tell you…
3. When we put value in our inside (character/morals/dreams), You are enough.
For those who think that the statement of you should never comment on someone’s weight is severe, here is my argument. I worked HARD to “pack on” those pounds. I gave up my everyday life to go to treatment, I left my family, and I made it my J-O-B to recover. That takes guts. That takes grit. That takes courage. Instead of commenting on how good I look or how much weight I have gained, tell me you respect my determination. Tell me you are proud of my progress. Tell me you look up to my decision to better myself and create a better life for my children. Tell me I look joyful. Tell me you are so glad I am present and connected…. Tell me all those things that have ZERO to do with my weight.
For the drug addict who gained weight in treatment- instead of telling him “Whoa, you got fat!”, tell him, “Man, I am glad you are alive.” For the woman who lost weight to better he health- don’t tell her “Wow, you look so good!”, tell her “Gosh, I can see the joy all over your face. I am glad you are feeling good about yourself!” To the bulimic that has fought hard to kick her purging habits, don’t tell her “Your face looks amazing now!”, tell her “I am so glad that you are able to be here and present with us at the table. I love your company!” There is always a way to compliment someone without commenting on looks or weight- and I promise you, the character and love comments connected with who a person truly is on the inside will stick a lot longer than the comments connected with how they look on the outside.
Best compliment I ever received? “Brooke, you are a Bad Ass.” – Liz Colman
I do see myself as a Bad Ass. I love that.