Friday, August 24, 2012
"You look great! Have you lost weight?"
"You look so thin! Congratulations!"
"Wow, you've lost so much weight!"
How many of these comments have you heard--whether directed at you or someone you know? How would you expect them to make you feel? Good? I would argue the opposite. I would argue that commenting on a person's weight, even if you're commenting that they "look like they've lost weight," can be impolite and even harmful.
1. If they are losing weight on purpose and they want people to know, they will tell you. You can then decide whether or not you feel weight loss for cosmetic purposes alone is something to compliment.
2. A person can lose weight from having surgery, getting cancer, or having an eating disorder. Complimenting a person on these things is generally considered to be in bad taste and could lead to further negative health consequences.
3. If they are not losing weight on purpose (or have actually not lost weight), you are telling them that they used to be less attractive than they are now and, if they regain weight, that they will soon be that unattractive again.
4. Losing weight should be for health reasons. If a person is losing weight solely to get compliments, then I think that complimenting them may make them even more pathological about their bodies. If they subsequently regain weight (as often happens because hormones like the body to remain in equilibrium), then they may feel even worse about themselves.
5. Commenting on how thin someone looks automatically makes everyone around them body-conscious and can activate body image problems in others.