Today I’m sharing something that’s been on my heart a lot the last few months, and I finally put pen to paper today (well fingers to keyboard, but you get the point).
I used to be obsessed with weight loss. This is no secret and I share so much more about my personal journey here in Letting Go of Leo.
I thought weighing less meant I’d be: more attractive, more lovable, healthier, and that my entire life would be better.
I connected weight loss and thinness to my worthiness.
I spent 10+ years believing that as the scale went down my value would go up.
It’s no wonder I felt this way, right?
We are bombarded by hundreds of diet-culture messages every. single. day. telling us this. And, we’re bombarded by even more messages from medical professionals, people we know in real life, and people on social media who are reinforcing this message (because they, too, are influenced by diet culture).
Because I put weight loss high up on a pedestal, above most other things in life, I’d always compliment others on their weight loss, too.
The second I saw a friend’s body become smaller, I’d tell her how great she looked. I’d tell her how inspiring she was! I’d tell her she was amazing.
Diet culture taught me smaller = better. I was reinforcing the idea that smaller = better.
And, I was having that same message reinforced by the people around me, too.
I loved the feeling of the compliments I’d receive when I was losing weight. For the split second, the compliment made me feel more loved and more valuable.
Who doesn’t like to feel loved? Who doesn’t love to feel valued?
We all do!
It’s human nature to want to belong (just check out Maslow’s hierarchy of needs).
It took me YEARS of my own healing journey, learning the truths about diet culture, understanding that weight is actually not an effective determination of someone’s health, unpacking the epidemic of disordered eating and body dysmorphia happening in our society, and discovering the other negative impacts that the ‘thin ideal’ can have on us to realize that complimenting someone on her weight loss can actually do more harm than good.
I’m not anti weight loss.
I consider myself weight neutral.
I believe that when you re-learn how to listen to your body and take care of yourself, your body will find her natural set point. For some people, I believe this can mean weight loss. For others it can mean weight gain or minimal to no weight changes.
I also believe that someone’s worth isn’t attached to her weight, no matter how she’s taking care of herself in the present moment.
So, even thought I’m not “anti weight loss,” the following reasons are why you probably won’t find me commenting on yours:
First, your body is none of my business.
Your body and your weight are truly not mine to make comments about. Plain and simple.
Second, bodies change and yours will, too.
We are not robots, we are humans! And yes, we are made to change. I’m made to change. You’re made to change.
Through different seasons of life your body will shift normally and naturally. I don’t want you to feel that you are wrong if your body changes in the future and those changes includes getting larger or gaining weight.
But, I know first hand that when weight loss compliments stop (and they almost always do, either because your body gains weight – which happens in 95%+ of cases of dieting and also can happen through normal body shifts – OR because your body finds her set place and pauses there) that it can feel really hard.
I don’t want you to think, “nobody has commented on my body lately. Nobody has told me how great or awesome or amazing I look. Am I not enough?”
Because you are enough.
And, I hear from clients all the time that these thoughts come up for them and it is really hard for them to live in a body that doesn’t get complimented all the time. I went through that same experience myself, too.
It reinforces the thin ideal created by diet culture.
Which brings me to my next reason…
Third, I don’t know what you’re actually going through.
Weight loss doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthier. It’s not necessarily “positive.”
In fact, some people who are experiencing weight loss are struggling in ways that are not visible on the outside.
They may be restricting food, over exercising, or experiencing fear / isolation / anxiety in their relationship with food. Some are even suffering with an eating disorder.
They may be going through something traumatic like grieving the loss of a loved one, trying to get through a divorce, or experiencing depression or anxiety.
Someone weighing less does NOT necessarily indicate that they are experiencing more health.
When we compliment someone’s weight loss without knowing what they are experiencing we can be unintentionally encouraging them to continue engaging in painful and unhealthy behaviors.
One of the most common reasons why the women who I work with struggle to ditch dieting is because of fear of losing the positive comments they received when they were losing weight.
Lastly, I care about you.
Instead of commenting on your weight I’m working to shift the way society sees and talks about health, weight, and bodies so you can have a more empowering experience.
And, I’m doing my best every day to let you know that you are loved, you are worthy, and you are enough for reasons that have NOTHING to do with your body’s gravitational pull.
This is one of my favorite things about being your friend – you always comment heart/happiness/talent and it makes a person feel truly SEEN. ❤️
Simonida Botic says
100% right back at you – love you so much!!!!