Other People’s Bodies 

​What gives you the right to comment on another person’s body?  Has s/he lost weight?  Think this is a compliment?   Heard of hypothyroidism,  cancer, eating disorders?   Then think before you speak.  Had s/he put some on?  Heard of hypothyroidism, antipsychotic medication, eating disorders, pregnancy?  These are just some of the sensitive issues you need to consider before you open a discussion about the body of another person.
You need to be aware that commenting on a person’s physical being can be deeply affecting for her or him.  Yes, saying that someone looks nice is a kind thing to do, and often the right thing.  But to make other comments, especially those perceived as negative (or those you cannot possibly know the impact of) is unfair.  It can also be reductive, sending the message that your main focus is on the body.  And I know, I know, the body is obviously the first thing we see.  First impressions count.  But it is not your right to impress your impressions upon another person.

When people talk about my body, whether in what they think is a positive way, or in a way that they consider negative, it makes me uncomfortable.  This discomfort is born out of a long struggle with my own self perception but also out of a sense that to make unwanted comments about another person’s appearance is wrong.  Particularly in terms of weight,  I think, it can really trigger some bad experiences for the people receiving the comments.

Since becoming dissatisfied with my body (for the millionth time in my life) I have also been much more sensitive to any comment on the way I look.  Even being referred to as pretty makes me uneasy.  Besides this, I pay an inordinate amount of attention to the appearance of others- the perils of constant comparison.    I am really struggling with this.  So for someone to pass judgement on my body- even in a “nice” way- feels like an assault on my fragile self-confidence.  People do not have the right to make me feel like this.  I do not have the right to make another person feel like this.  What you feel is a compliment may not be a compliment to someone else.  And putting aside the essentially irrelevant fact of what you consider a compliment or insult, it is simply not your business to look at someone else’s body and make a comment on it.

The message here is an old and simple one: think before you speak- and think carefully about how you would feel in the whatever-sized shoes of another person.  Be kind.

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