It can feel confusing to know what to say to a friend or loved one who has recently lost weight. It’s important to consider how a comment, observation, or compliment may impact the person for a variety of reasons.
For starters, I would encourage a friend not to make any comments unless the person who lost weight speaks about it first.
The weight loss could be due to a variety of reasons and they may not want to or be ready to talk about it. If the person is speaking about their weight loss, it would be most helpful to talk about how the person feels versus how they look.
Our weights often change and focusing too much on positively reinforcing weight loss could leave the person feeling more anxious about future weight changes.
Here are a few more reasons why it’s generally not a good idea to comment on someone’s weight:
- Body image issues: Comments about weight can contribute to negative body image and self-esteem issues. Such remarks may lead to increased self-consciousness, body shaming, and the development of unhealthy relationships with food and exercise.
- Emotional impact: Weight-related comments can have a significant emotional impact, leading to feelings of shame, embarrassment, or inadequacy. They can also trigger or exacerbate underlying mental health conditions such as eating disorders, anxiety, or depression.
- Lack of understanding: Individuals may not be aware of any underlying health issues or struggles the person may be facing. Weight can be influenced by various factors, including genetics, medical conditions, medications, and mental health concerns, making it a sensitive topic.
- Personal boundaries: Weight is a personal and private matter for many individuals, and unsolicited comments can be seen as an invasion of privacy or personal boundaries. Respect for personal boundaries is crucial for maintaining positive and healthy relationships.
- Societal pressures: Societal standards and stereotypes often promote unrealistic body ideals, which can contribute to a culture of body shaming and discrimination. By commenting on someone’s weight, individuals may inadvertently perpetuate these harmful societal norms.
- Self-worth and confidence: Weight-related comments can negatively impact an individual’s self-worth and confidence. They may start to associate their value and worth with their appearance, leading to a diminished sense of self and a focus on external validation rather than internal well-being.
In general, it’s essential to approach conversations with sensitivity and respect for others’ feelings and boundaries. Focusing on a person’s character, achievements, and strengths rather than their physical appearance can foster a more positive and supportive environment.
If weight or health is a concern, it’s better to communicate in a compassionate and non-judgmental manner and to prioritize understanding and support.
If you would like support in addressing your or a loved one’s body image concerns, we are here to help.