If I hear one more comment about my body, my neighbor’s body, my friend’s body, my family’s body, or my classmate’s bodies, I think I might lose it.
We are all guilty of it, or we have been in the past. We all tend to think negatively about our own bodies and celebrate the beauty in other people. We make judgements about other people based off of their weight or size, rather than actually getting to know who they really are. We compare ourselves to the people around us, & no amount of exercise, dieting, or weight loss seems to be enough. Body talk is a part of every day conversation. I don’t think there is a day that has gone by that I haven’t heard someone mention their weight or the diet that they are on. It’s the normal thing to do. Listen to me friends: It needs to stop, and it needs to stop now.
When I hear other women talk about the weight or body of a friend, family member, or even a complete stranger, I can’t help but cringe.
My heart aches.
My soul groans.
My spirit sinks.
My blood boils.
Whether we realize it or not, body comments (no matter how kind/complementary they are intended to be), are never, ever appropriate. Ever.
For a period of time in my life I believed the lie that losing weight was the only way to be healthy. If I wasn’t losing weight, I was taking a step back. It I wasn’t on a diet, I wasn’t healthy. If I wasn’t working to become more fit, I was becoming lazy.
A year ago I began recovery for anorexia. Before my unhealthy dieting habits transitioned into an eating disorder, I received a lot of praise and compliments about my weight. People would tell me that my legs looked great, that I was the smallest they had ever seen me, and that I was in awesome shape. They told me that they were jealous that I knew how to put together hard workouts. They told me I was “good” because I went to the gym and ate salads.
If only they knew their comments reinforced the idea in my head that skinny & toned meant healthy. No one warned me. No one told me to stop until it was too late. They showered me with word of affirmation and songs of praise. It fed into my ego, & I was too prideful to give up some of the behaviors that I knew would hurt me in the long run.
The people who commented on my weight had no idea that the only reason I looked the way that I did was because I restricted food and over-exercised. They just assumed I was healthy. Skinny is healthy, right? Let me just tell you from personal experience, no matter how you look or what kind of workout you can do, if your physical and psychological health is declining, you are not healthy.
Maybe there are people who are completely unaffected by body talk. Maybe there are women who completely and 100% love their bodies & never second guess that love. Maybe there are women who can handle body talk.
I think that for the majority of us, body comments do nothing but harm us. They either encourage us to follow a diet or to try harder in the gym, or convince us to compare ourselves to the people around us.
When people commented on my body in a positive way, it not only reinforced eating disorder thoughts and behaviors, but it also confirmed in my mind that I was more likable at a smaller weight and size. If I look “great” now, what did I look like before then? What did other’s think about me or say about me? I was convinced that weight loss was an easy way for me to gain acceptance and worth. Even though these comments were meant to be positive, they weren’t received that way.
Additionally, when friends or family comment on another person’s recent weight loss it’s easy for me to think to myself, “Dang. Should I be losing weight? Why is she getting so much praise? Maybe if I lost a few pounds I could get that attention.”
Vice versa, if another person commented on a friend, family member, or even a stranger’s weight in a negative way, it was all too tempting to join in to mask my own securities. Focusing on other’s insecurities distracted me from my own. I felt more at ease, at least temporarily.
Negative body talk is also a big conversation topic that can be triggering for individuals who are obsessively dieting or flirting with disordered eating.
When we criticize other’s bodies, we give the people around us the impression that they too need to change.
If someone who is smaller than me wants to lose weight, it could be assumed that he or she thinks I need to lose weight as well.
When people criticize their legs, arms, weight, BMI, pant size, or all of the above, I start to do the same thing.
Maybe I am the only one who struggles with comparison. Maybe I am the only one who struggles with weight/body comments. But after hearing many, many stories from sweet sisters of all different walks of life, I don’t think I am alone in this.
I’ve met many people who are at a completely healthy body weight, & still insist that they need to go on a diet because their mom, friend, boyfriend, or a Instagram fit account told them that they needed to.
I’ve met many girls who are a size 2 who desperately desire to be skinnier. They have a distorted view of what their body size and shape really look like. They can’t see what others see.
I’ve met many girls who are a size 2 who desperately desire to be curvier. To gain weight. To be more “feminine”.
I’ve met many girls who have been hurt by comments that their friends, family, or classmates have made about their bodies, no matter what size or shape they are.
I’ve met many GUYS who spent the majority of their day at the gym, planning out their macro distribution for the day, and chugging down pre-workout and protein shakes because we tell them that they need to be strong and buff in order to be a man.
Sweet sisters, it’s time to lay down the burden of body talk.
End of Story.
Done. There is no good that comes from it.
Good intentions still hurt. Compliments can be twisted. Words are never forgotten.
Engaging in body talk is honestly one of the most pointless, unproductive ways that we can spend our time. Truly. We will all be old and wrinkly one day. We will all die one day. Our bodies change constantly throughout our lives and are worn down from life, children, scars, sickness, and ultimately death.
Taking a stand against body talk isn’t easy. It goes against the norm. It can be awkward. It is uncomfortable. I sometimes get weird looks when I say that I am not trying to lose weight. Many people don’t understand why I will never go on a diet a It’s difficult, but it can be done. It needs to be done. It should be done.
Do it for yourself.
Do it for your friends & family.
Do it for your co-workers.
Do it for your daughters.
Do it for those who look up to you.
Do it to live, laugh, & love.