What is the best way to comment on someone’s body?
Not saying anything at all.
You have no idea what is going on in that person’s mind, or what they are going through in regards to their body image and relationship with food/movement. Even if you are close to them, they may carry a secret battle within that is difficult for them to share.
Comments from others about your body can fuel body shame and feelings of pressure to change your body in order to feel accepted or noticed.
Receiving comments about your body size or shape can be triggering for someone who has recovered from disordered eating/exercise/body image, or can worsen feelings and behaviors for someone currently struggling. You can be standing on the side of victory over disordered eating and exercise behaviors, then body comments can bring up old feelings, old temptations, and old ways of thinking.
You never know what someone may be dealing with if you make a comment about their body, whether good or bad. You cannot assume someone in a smaller body has never had body image struggles. You cannot assume someone in a larger body does not struggle with restrictive eating. You really cannot assume anything based on appearance alone.
If someone only receives compliments about their body when they lose weight, especially comments about how much “better they look” compared to before, it can create anxiety about keeping the weight off in order maintain the “ideal,” or make them feel like they did not measure up before. If someone is insecure about their weight, and then they receive a negative comment about their body, it can drive disordered eating and exercise behaviors in order to achieve this “ideal.” This can then prompt the feeling of “doing whatever it takes” by pursuing weight loss through extreme measures. If you talk about someone else’s body to someone, they may compare their body to the one you are speaking about and this can lead to similar negative feelings. You really do not know how it would be received, so it is best not to say anything at all to anyone about their body or other people’s bodies.
Why are we evaluated by the way we look? Why do people make assumptions about you because of the way you look? If you are in a smaller body, people accuse you of not eating or having an eating disorder. If you are in a larger body, people assume you overeat. Let’s just stop making assumptions about people. It’s harmful.
We are so much more than our bodies anyway. Our bodies do so much for us, and it is amazing, but there is so much more to us than our bodies. Can we lift people up for how they bless our lives? Can we praise others’ inner beauty—their love, their dedication, their joyful spirit, their kind words? Can we stop the body talk? Can we stop evaluating bodies, and just love people for who they are, not making appearance based assumptions?
I know not every single person would be negatively affected by a body comment, but many are. So many people are affected. I see it all the time. Can we err on the side of “do no harm” and just not comment about each other’s bodies?
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