Why Weight Focused Compliments Could be Harmful

by | Jan 5, 2023

Tired of weight focused compliments? I am too! Don’t really find them to actually be compliments? Me neither! There are so many other ways to greet and compliment people that can lift each other up, make people feel good, and aren’t all about our bodies. We are more than just a body!

Do these comments sound familiar? Or maybe.. Make you a bit uncomfortable?

“You’ve lost so much weight! You look aaaamazing!”

“Wow, when did you become so skinny!”

“That diet that you have been doing makes you look so much better!”

These comments are likely genuine and heartfelt from the complementor’s point of view. BUT the person receiving the compliment may feel awkward or start associating allllll of their self worth based on how they look and how much they weigh.

This is such an awesome post from @Intuitively.Eaten – describing the negative impact on comments that are weight focused. love that it mentions “It’s not about the intent of the comment, it’s about the impact.”

This isn’t what we want….right?

We are more than just a body!

We are more than just our appearance.

We are more than just what we eat and how often we exercise.

Our body/size/what we eat is the LEAST interesting about us.

These types of physically focused compliments perpetuate weight stigma and fatphobia.

This isn’t what we want….right???

Why do we use these kinds of compliments?

I blame diet culture…as always.

Diet culture has ingrained in our minds that being skinny, thin, smaller, fit (all of the words…) is essential to being accepted or well-liked. I am here to tell you – THIS IS NOT TRUE! Here are some other things that I am here to validate related to body focused comments:

  • You do not need to change your body to become healthy
  • You can set boundaries with others when they make comments about your body
  • You are allowed to change the subject away from body focused comments
  • You are more than a number on the scale
  • You are allowed to question why someone is making these comments – maybe it has to do with their relationship to food and body

Here’s the challenge

The next time you meet up with a friend, family member, colleague, etc consider the following before making a comment about their appearance:

  • Do you know why their appearance has changed?
  • Are they currently struggling with an eating disorder, disordered eating, or body image?
  • Are you currently struggling with an eating disorder, disordered eating, or body image?
  • Have you considered your own/society’s fatphobia and weight bias?
  • Is someone’s weight or physical appearance the only thing to comment on? (or is it just the first thing we see?)

Let’s start compliementing people for other qualities they have!

Here are some non-weight based compliments we can use instead!

  1. I am so proud of you!
  2. You always put a smile on my face
  3. I love your style of clothing! You are so good at putting outfits together!
  4. You mean the world to me.
  5. Your work ethic encourages me to work harder at my job!
  6. You are an incredible friend. I am so lucky to have you!
  7. You’re so creative!
  8. You are a helpful friend/parent/child
  9. I always look forward to spending time with you.
  10. Your kindness makes me believe there is hope in the world

Here are just 10 examples (more here on the amazing blog by Rachel Hartley, RD, LD) of heartfelt comments you can use for your loved ones. Remember to consider the impact of your compliments and that our body/size/shape/weight is really the least interesting thing about us.

Schedule a free discovery call with me here to chat about this more

Hi, I’m Stephanie

I’m a Registered Dietitian and I write about all things related to Intuitive Eating, nutrition, body image, and more! Thanks for joining me in my little corner of the internet.

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