It’s typical for people to compliment others who have lost weight. We are a society focused on appearances. Someone who needs to lose weight for health concerns and are medically told to lose weight, are praised for their goals. It’s about maintaining a healthy physical weight and extending their lives.
What isn’t great, is the general usage of losing weight as a compliment. Openly going up to a friend and commenting on how much they have lost weight and how great they look. This is not okay. Beauty is not measured by how much you weigh, it’s more about pushing a positivity outlook to feel good inside and out.
If I look slim, I am often told how great I look and how it really suits me. It’s often in the form of a compliment – but in turn it becomes a lot more sinister. I constantly question the other times it hasn’t been said and times when I feel large and self-confident.
STARTING AS A CHILD
As a kid, I suffered with body positivity issues and often thought I was fat. It wasn’t helped by teasing from my brother or friends as they thought it was a funny joke. One of the biggest jokes was my brother constantly calling me a fat pit in French. It was a silly goof that he thought was funny, but it left psychological scars on me after this.
Childhood can be cruel and it sets most of us up with issues that last long after it’s finished. Young children should be taught about body positivity and the media should actively show normal bodies instead of the airbrushed ones we constantly see.
Sometimes I would starve myself and make myself feel unwell, but most of the time I still ate the food in front of me. Instead of starving myself, I’d force myself to throw up or take a form of laxatives to ensure that I’d get rid of the food somehow.
I remember some random boy at my secondary school calling me fat as an insult and it broke me. I played it off cool, but ended up running to the bathroom and leaving school early that day. I had a constant battle with my appearance as a kid, and I still do now. I wish I could say that I’ve changed and I’m stronger, but those scars run deep. I see pictures of me as a kid and think of how skinny I actually was then compared to now, but I need to remember that I was just a child then.
I never knew what I had was Bulimia until speaking to other girls who had done the same. It wasn’t like a rare occurrence amongst my friends, most of the girls I know have suffered with their body positivity issues.
BODY ISSUES ARE THE NEW NORMAL
I’ve seen women obsess over calories and chastise themselves for eating a packet of biscuits. I’ve known women to force themselves to throw up as well to ensure they stay slim. I’ve known women to actively starve themselves on a regular basis to ensure their weight.
None of this is healthy, and that’s why losing weight should not be a general compliment. We should instead focus on other things such as their hair or their outfits. Or even better, compliment others on a successful task they did or a stride they made at work. The world is cruel enough and we should be raising each other up by real compliments and not superficial ones.
If you struggle with eating disorders, check out Beat Eating Disorders website for more information.
Words by Charlie Vogelsang