“So is the weight loss healthy or unhealthy?” a friend asked Mr. Sexy as he entered the room. “Well, I’m also swimming 4-5 days a week,” Mr. Sexy said with a chuckle. “Oh, so you’re getting a swimmer’s body then,” the friend replied. My question is this:
Why do we feel the need to comment on someone’s outward appearance like their weight loss? What is the actual intent behind these types of comments?
For the most part I am sure it is innocent or just uneducated on best ways to start conversations. It’s all forgivable and not the end of the world. Yet those comments tend to stick with us causing us to look at our bodies from an outward perspective rather than one of love and understanding.
The first question Mr. Sexy was asked walking into counseling: So is the weight loss healthy or unhealthy?
This is completely appropriate for their relationship. In fact this question caught Mr. Sexy off guard because he is very proud not to be over weight anymore. In his mind, he is doing well managing his diet and exercise and stress. But in the privacy of this room with the safety of his counselor, Mr. Sexy was able to take a good look at what is actually happening to his body.
The difference between these two people who asked about his weight loss is the relationship they have.
Truth be told, Mr. Sexy does not have a friend with the authority to make such personal comments. Well, I can think of one but I don’t think he would ever make that comment to Mr. Sexy’s face. In my experience, commenting on someone’s weight is for the most part always uncomfortable and just inappropriate.
Through-out my entire life people have had something to say about my body, just like I’m sure you have had similar experiences. When I would lose weight, the compliments would pour in from all over and everyone:
You look so great!
Have you loot weight?
You’re looking thin!
Are you sure you’re eating enough?
Be careful, the weight comes back quick!
And yes, compliments feel great. It’s awesome to be celebrated and cheered for. So when I would start to gain the weight back, the compliments stopped and the self-loathing set in.
These compliments about weight loss rarely truly encourage the individual receiving the message.
Instead, what is reinforced is the idea that we need to look a certain way to be accepted. Or is that we are so uncomfortable with our bodies that we have no idea how to talk about them other than weight loss?
Instead of naively commenting on someone’s weight, pick something else. There are so many ways to compliment your friends and help them through hard times. The key is your relationship. So, if you don’t know someone very well, zip it. Make a comment about his nice shirt, instead. Don’t ask about his weight or work out regime unless you are genuinely interested or looking for some new ideas for yourself. If you see a friend going through something and it’s showing up outwardly, build a relationship before making off-hand, damaging comments.
Instead of saying: Is the weight lose healthy are on healthy?
Ask: How are you doing physically, mentally and spiritually?
Instead of saying: Wow you’ve lost weight! You look great!
Say: You look so happy! Whatever you’re doing keep doing it!
Instead of saying: You look sexy as hell!
Say: You are sexy as hell!
I wonder what changes you might see for yourself if you choose to start thinking about weight loss differently?
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Email Jessica B. your questions: Jessica@jessicaleighbiles.com