Updated: Jul 19, 2021
“Wow, you look so good. Did you lose weight?”
“I wish I had your body. What's your workout routine?”
“You’re so tiny! What diet are you on?”
Many people might see nothing wrong with comments such as these. After all, they are compliments, right?
Comments related to people’s weight and bodies are more harmful than one might imagine. Even well meaning compliments like “Have you lost weight? You look great!’ or “Wow, look at her body. I wish I looked like that!” can oftentimes cause more harm than good.
These comments unintentionally reinforce the idea that in order to be healthy, worthy, and beautiful, we must be a smaller size. Compliments on weight loss and bodies can often put out a message that smaller bodies are better and that weight loss is what makes us beautiful. This is far from true.
Brittany, also known as @nofoodfears on Instagram, is a certified intuitive eating counselor and one of the hosts of Food Therapy Pod. Brittany helps women make peace with food and their bodies, as seen on her website. “When we comment on someone's body size, we are telling them they look better now that they are smaller and they should do everything they can to stay in that size body,” Brittany said.
It’s important to remember that it's normal for human bodies to change. You never know what someone could be going through. Whether it may be a physical illness, depression, stress, an eating disorder, or any other life struggle, you NEVER know what is going on in someone’s life. You don’t know the reasoning behind a person's weight loss or gain. In many cases when weight loss happens, it was not done in a healthy way.
Pointing out weight loss or an individual's body seems to be a natural comment we make. We do this without even stopping to think about what we are truly saying. These comments are thrown around frequently, both in person and on social media. When scrolling through social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, I see comment after comment on other people’s photos pointing out features of their body. How much weight they have lost, how small their waists are, people asking for diet and workout tips.
Hearing and seeing these comments day after day makes others and myself feel as if the only way we will receive compliments, praise, and acceptance is if we have a certain body type. Most people don’t think about the harm that could be behind their words.
“I truly think that people think they are doing a nice thing,” Brittany said.
How can we change this?
“We need to acknowledge that we have no idea why they lost weight. Was it intentional and done in a healthy way?” Brittany asked.
When pointing out and complimenting a person on their weight loss, it gives the message that they look good only at a lower weight, which can make them feel self conscious about their old appearance. Brittany talked about how moving away from physical compliments all together is important.
Let’s focus less on comments involving a person's weight, body, and physical appearance in general. It is important to show someone that you care and that you are there for them.
Brittany suggests that we instead ask each other “How are you?” or “How was your day?” Or just simply say, “I love being around you.”