It seems natural, automatic to compliment a friend/relative/colleague or anyone we know on their weight loss. We do not think twice about this as we see it as a good thing to compliment others on weight loss right? It is with the intention of making them happy, to make them feel good.
Complimenting weight loss can actually cause a lot of harm
Have you ever stopped to think what these sort of compliments actually mean and the repercussions of it? Complimenting weight loss can actually cause a lot of harm. It can confirm that their perception of weight loss is a positive thing and can fuel them to continue to lose weight, with the continued mentality that smaller/thinner is better. Comments such as “you look great”, “how did you do it?”, “you look so much better”. These comments can confirm to them that they did not look good enough before, that their struggles and insecurities with any part of their body was in actual fact true, as they are now being recognised for their changed appearance. Of course some people may need to lose weight for medical reasons in which case then yes they should if they have been advised by a medical professional, but I am talking about appearance based on weight loss.
We are constantly striving to fit society’s expectations
Why do we put so much value on weight loss and having a smaller body? Do you ever hear anyone compliment someone for gaining weight? I think hardly ever, or never. If you compliment someone on their weight loss, they may later gain weight. How will that then make them feel, to no longer receive the compliments and validation that they once received when they were in a smaller body? Feeling that they were only validated when they lost weight.
Some of us strive off these compliments for validation, but why do we not compliment them as a person, their personality, their kindness, their achievements? Give them a new sense of perspective that body image is not what makes us, that we are more than a number on a scale, more than a certain clothes size, more than our appearance. We are so caught up in society’s ideal, that the person giving the compliments and the person receiving the compliments both usually see it as a positive thing, so usually there is no issue. If you think about it, you can probably see that this is how we have been hard wired into thinking, believing that this is how it should be, this is the reality of what society deems as acceptable, but it really isn’t and it shouldn’t be.
Constant compliments on appearance devalues them as a person, looks should not matter
People can lose weight for various reasons, it could be through something negative like an illness, medical condition or trauma, then to be complimented on their weight loss can put a different meaning on their negative experience, that those negative experiences was a good thing because they have lost weight through it. It does not sound right does it? It can also fuel someone with an eating disorder, validating that they look better in a thinner body, so they will continue to keep that up, giving sufferers more fear that if they gain weight they will not feel worthy anymore, not feel validated as they only received the compliments when they lost weight. This can be so dangerous.
I think we need to think twice before commenting/complimenting someone on their physical appearance, because it does not matter what they look like. I know it is hard not to when the world that we live in automatically wants to say something nice, which is usually directed to someone’s looks, but why do we have more compliments on our appearance than on our worth? When was the last time you told someone they were kind or talented for example? Constant compliments on appearance devalues them as a person, looks should not matter. If you see someone you haven’t seen for a while, try not to be drawn towards commenting on their appearance, try a new approach.
We put so much value on the way we look, always trying to keep up to the distorted standards that society has placed upon us, with weight being high on the list to live up to and when we do live up to it, we feel more accepted, and we are praised. We live in a world where we are constantly battling to achieve these standards. Please know that you are unique because you are you, we do not need to fit any standards, there is no rule, it is just the mentality that we have learned and had to live with which has become our ‘normal’ way of life.
Be the one to make the change
We are constantly striving to fit society’s expectations of having to look a certain way, to feel accepted and worthy, not giving value to the fact that we are already worthy, each and everyone of us as individuals has so much to offer and that makes us enough just the way we are, just being us. We do not need to keep striving to achieve a certain look to fit society’s standards. We are all good enough whatever our weight is. Let’s stop talking about appearance and giving it so much focus and value, and start focusing more on people as individuals, what they have to offer, what they contribute to society. How about we ask how they have been, find out what they have been doing, get to know more of the person they are, their values, compliment their shoes or piece of jewellery they are wearing? Let’s try and break out of the norm (which may I add is not by any fault of our own) which can be so damaging.
I believe we need to stop contributing to this harmful ideal – be the one to make the change.
And remember, you are good enough the way you are because you are you.
Please let me know what you think, has this got you thinking in anyway? Does it make you feel any differently about complimenting weight loss? Please let me know your thoughts.