The Potential Damage of Weight Centric Comments
Updated: Jan 22
It’s the New Year and my social media platforms have been inundated with weight loss messaging from just about everyone! This may seem innocent or well intended for some, but in reality this messaging can be detrimental to ones body image and relationship with food.
As a Dietitian, I ask permission to discuss someone’s weight, shape or size, to see if my client is comfortable discussing a sensitive topic. In your peer group I urge you not to comment
on an individual’s weight, and below I have provided a few hypothetical scenarios to hopefully convince you why. These scenarios are made up but not uncommon of the stories I have heard in from teary-eyed individuals in my office and also in passing at airports, coffee shops, hairdressers, etc.
“Wow you look great! How did you lose the weight?”
-diagnosed with stomach cancer 2 months ago.
“I won’t tell anyone but are you pregnant?”
-had a miscarriage last week after 2 years of trying to conceive.
“Omg look they are so skinny they must be doing drugs.”
-in a Crohn's flare up, exhausted, and feeling like giving up.
“Hopefully it doesn’t take you too long to get your body back after pregnancy.”
-she never lost her body. That body just grew a child while navigating all that life throws at it. The human body is an instrument, not an ornament, and females are life giving!
“If you lose some weight, I’ll put you in the starting lineup next season.”
-chronic food restriction leads to season ending injury and mental health plummets.
"If you don't start working harder in gym class you're never going to lose weight"
-drops out of gym class and loses a supportive network of friends.
“Looks like Covid has been hard on you too." (wink wink looking at the mid-section)
-covid allowed for time to engage in nutrition and psych therapy and this person has been in eating disorder remission for 2 months! Currently at their largest weight in 5 years and the healthiest they have ever been but that comment caused them to isolate themselves, binge, and purge later that day.
I could go on with these examples, but I hope you get the point, and perhaps many of you have been victimized by such comments. Our words can be detrimental to mental health- whether that be your own mental health or someone else’s. Try speaking about your body (the only one you will ever have) more positively and appreciate it for what it does. And please, if an item of clothing no longer brings you joy then TOSS IT OUT and celebrate that overdue milestone with some self care!
You never know someone’s full situation, so please stop commenting on weight or judging worth on appearance, and do not give unsolicited “health” advice. Even if someone approaches you because you have thin privilege (which apparently qualifies you to give advice- ugh, no), please encourage them to seek help from an expert in the field. If you’ve lost weight yourself that does not qualify you to counsel on strategies for manipulating body weight or body composition- you are a person that lost weight and that shouldn’t come with a badge of honour, and it certainly doesn’t come with credentials.
I recognize this blog doesn’t offer ways to approach the conversation around weight, but the point is not to coach you how to comment on someone’s weight in a nonjudgmental way, but rather to insist that you do not comment on someone’s weight. Ever. Period. Leave it to the non weight bias professionals for when an individual is ready to discuss a difficult topic. #saynotodietculture