December 12, 2017
Have you ever told someone that they were perfect? We don’t like to admit it, but all of us are in some way, guilty of simultaneously ignoring someone’s insecurities and complimenting them. I know I have. It’s unintentional, but it really does impact the person receiving these types of compliments.
I know it does because I have been on the receiving end and it felt less than pleasant to have someone tell me that there was no reason to feel so insecure about myself, simply because they wish they had something that I have.
On several occasions a woman will say to me, “You’re so thin. How lucky you are for being able to eat whatever you want and not see the weight!”. They say things like this with a smile on their face. I know they mean well. They just don’t know that my health is declining and it makes it hard for me to maintain my weight.
What they don’t understand is that I’d rather live in a body that doesn’t betray me every day. I’d rather be healthy than skinny. They don’t realize that for the rest of the day, I will be thinking about my body image. I wished I had curves. I wished I had what they have.
I’ve also had much darker and less well intended compliments thrown my way. Such as, “shut up, you’re so skinny. Eat a cheeseburger.” Which, first of all, I DO. I love me a good cheeseburger. Extra bacon, hold the lettuce, please. It’s bizarre to say anything like this to someone. Implying that someone is thicker or thinner due to an eating disorder is flat out bizarre to me. You don’t always know someone’s struggles. What if I did have an eating disorder and you just vocalized this to myself and everyone in earshot?
We all know it’s wrong to body shame someone. To tell them that they would either look better or feel better if they changed something about themselves. Sometimes people think it’s okay to voice these opinions. The thing about our opinions…they don’t matter when it comes to another womans body. We don’t live in anyone’s body but our own. It seems only fair that we only get to have an opinion about the body we live in and have control over.
If we don’t like our body, we can change it. The only thing we change by voicing our opinions about someone else’s body image, is their opinion of it. We have the power to change the way a person feels about themselves and that is a scary power to have. Like any superhero, we must learn how to use our power for good and not for evil.
I once told a friend of mine that I wished I had her boobs. I, being young and naive, failed to realize that my friend was in constant pain due to these large breasts that I admired her for. Every time I told her I wished I had her breasts, she’d remind me of how much pain they caused her. I still think about this eye opening experience for me.
She changed the way I thought about compliments. She made me realize that no matter how great you think a person looks, they may be struggling with their own appearance and self esteem. You have to be aware of that in order to give them a compliment that will make them feel better, not worse.
I read this quote recently and I took it to the heart. “You shouldn’t point out things about people’s appearances that they can’t change in 10 seconds.” This is the quote I repeat to myself in my head before I give someone a compliment. I choose “You look stunning today!” over “You look so good! What have you been doing?!”.
Why? Because I really don’t know what this person has been doing. Has she been working out? Maybe. Has she been trying to lose weight? Maybe. Has she been dieting? Maybe. Has she been trying to gain weight? Maybe.
These are all things I do not know. Unless this person is close enough to me to tell me they are trying to change their figure, I won’t compliment them on it. Until they mention that it’s something they’d like to be complimented on. For instance, a dear friend of mine has been trying to lose a few pounds. She works hard and still maintains a healthy lifestyle.
So, whenever I see her, I make sure to give her some validation that her hard work is paying off. I know it makes her happy to hear that someone else is seeing results. Unless you know where a person stands mentally about their body, compliment something they can change in 10 seconds.
Once we take the time to think about the things we say to people, we become part of the solution. The solution to this problem we have in a woman’s world full of people who can’t seem to stop comparing themselves to one another. We must start believing that just because someone has what you believe to be the ideal, they probably don’t feel that way about themselves.
Everyone has insecurities. Little things we dwell on in spite of being told we shouldn’t worry so much about. Even people who you think are perfect, are struggling. Having these insecurities doesn’t make you weak. They make you human.