by Emily Duvall
Nobody wants someone to tell them what to do with their body or how they should view their own physical appearance. As a society, we have normalized detrimental weight comments. By weight comments, I do not just mean speaking about someone gaining weight; such comments could involve all remarks regarding skinny-shaming, commenting on someone’s weight loss or gain, saying “you need to work out,” “are you sure you should eat that?,” “you need to eat a few hamburgers,” and so many more. Making any statement to another individual about their weight is just not okay.
Discrimination of body types and different weights has always been a part of US culture. Beauty standards that have been present for the past hundreds of years have led people to believe that their body is not valid because of a specific number that resides on a scale. No matter what your connection is to a person, making a comment about their weight brings so much discomfort and harm to that individual.
It is nearly impossible to know exactly what goes on in each and everyone’s brain; thus, you can never know exactly how someone feels or what they are going through. With many people shielding their insecurities from the public, it is imperative to be cautious when you say things to others, even if they seem confident. A 2011 Glamour Magazine survey asked young women across the United States if they had ever “hated their body,” and 97% of the responses said they had.
No matter what body type someone has, these pronouncements are unacceptable. A common misconception is that weight comments that talk about being skinny can’t be harmful. However, not everyone loves themselves just because they more closely adhere to society’s standards of what beauty should look like. Telling someone they need to gain weight is just as bad as saying they need to lose it. One comment like this could pressure someone not to eat, or skip a meal every other day, regardless of if they are “skinny” or not. This feeds into the issue of eating disorders and how people feel so neglected because of their body that they let themselves depreciate. Insecurities lurk within everyone, and these remarks build on one’s insecurities. It is incredibly harmful to one’s mental health as well.
On the other side of weight comments are the ones about weight loss. Some find these words encouraging and harmless. However, statements likem “you need to work out” are actually incredibly toxic. Making this comment does not encourage someone; instead, it acts as a demotivator. Simpler phrases that have undertones of fatphobia include “you’re just muscular” or “it’s just how you’re built.” These words are simply excuses for the people making these comments to unleash their fatphobia. People could be doing their absolute best to change their body, but an individual pointing out another’s personal insecurities will make that person feel worse about themselves. Do not make up an excuse like this that only makes you feel comfortable about commenting on someone’s appearance.
Many remarks seem to resemble an uplifting comment, but they are actually inconsiderate. For example, someone might say, “Oh my gosh, you’ve lost weight!” The person on the receiving end of these words could be dealing with an eating disorder, with body dysmorphia, or with any sort of struggle in life that has led them to lose this weight. Or, they could have simply felt so pressured by society to fit the world’s social norms for how a body “should look.” Complimenting weight loss reinforces the idea that being fat is an inherently bad thing. Weight loss can be a positive thing, but making a mindless “compliment” like this is insensitive, because everyone has a story that you might be unaware of.
Weight comments are detrimental to the individual on the receiving end, and drawing unnecessary attention to something that they may have little to no control over is unacceptable. Making comments about someone’s physical appearance is insensitive and just plain rude. These remarks do not benefit anyone. They only promote beauty standards that we have come to normalize in society. Please stop commenting on people’s weight. A new phrase to think of when you consider talking about someone’s appearance is this: “if they can’t fix it in ten seconds, don’t point it out.”
(Sources: Glamour, Psychology Today)