We have been living in the midst of a pandemic for more than a year. For most of us, this meant a drastic change in our daily routine. It also means that we went without seeing many of the people we used to interact with regularly.
As we slowly and safely start socializing again, there are several things to keep in mind – masks, handwashing, and distance still matter. But beyond standard safety precautions, there is one more thing you can do to support the health and happiness of those around you: Stop honoring epidemic weight loss.
It’s frustrating and it tells us that during this incredibly painful year filled with a lot of disease and violence, weight remains a high priority topic for the media, public health agencies and people at large. we It is very clear They have bigger problems. And after, Epidemiological weight gain And the Weight loss Many stories.
Given this cultural obsession with weight – specifically, of losing it and / or not gaining it – it might seem natural, and even instinctive, to compliment someone who looks younger than they did the last time you saw them. But experts agree that such a “flattery” can cause real harm. Here’s why:
You never know what’s going on behind the apparent weight loss.
First, you don’t just know by looking at someone how or why they lost the weight. It may be the result of a chronic disease. It may be due to an ongoing eating disorder that has seriously degraded a person’s quality of life.
”One of the most challenging things for my clients with eating disorders is knowing that they have been praised for losing weight when engaging in behaviors that are destructive of an eating disorder. ” Rachel Hartley, A dietitian in Colombia and South Carolina, and the author ofGentle feeding. “These compliments reinforced the eating disorder, as people were literally praising them for engaging in behaviors that put their lives at risk.”
Shira RosenbluthLicensed Clinical Social Worker and Body Positive Fashion Blogger In New York City, she said that at the height of her eating disorder, she was praised for her weight loss. “I was dying and praising every step of the way,” she said.
To be clear: eating disorders affect people of all sizes. Such as National Eating Disorders Collaboration It demonstrates that eating disorders occur in people of all weights (although people of large bodies who engage in dangerous eating disorder behaviors may never be diagnosed because of their weight). Most people stop praising someone who has lost weight and looks very thin, because we assume it could be the result of an eating disorder. As Hartley points out, we should apply this same caution to people of all bodies.
“I was dying and praising every step of the way.”
– Shera Rosenbluth, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Body Positive Fashion Blogger
Weight loss is not inherently good, just as weight gain is not inherently bad.
Hartley said, “We live in a culture that is totally fat-averse, and weight gain is often viewed negatively, as a sign of“ letting yourself go. ”Meanwhile, weight loss is assumed to be the result of“ hard work ”or“ dedication. ”Of course, None of these assumptions are correct. ”
There are many factors that determine our weight and how it may change throughout our lives, and many of them are out of our control – among them genetics, environment and chronic disease. And even factors (at least to some extent) under our control, such as the way we eat and move, do not affect the black-and-white weight that people often assume. A person who limits food and has been exercising for a long time may gain weight when they begin to adopt healthy behaviors (that is, allow themselves to be adequately fed and rested).
The weight loss compliment supports the misconception that lean bodies are better than fat bodies.
When you praise someone for losing weight, you are indicating that their body is better now than it was before.
“You say this ex-person’s body wasn’t worth it [it was],” He said Tony Wilson, Social worker and fat acceptance activist. “You associate beauty and fitness with slimness, you say obesity is less than something that should be eliminated.”
While you may not mean it this way, complimenting weight loss is kind of like saying, “Thank God, your old body was just a ‘before’ image!”
Fat bodies deserve respect as are lean ones. And the claim that the weight loss courtesy has anything to do with a person’s health – “I’m so glad you decided to go healthier!” It is completely disrespectful and misleading. Weight does not indicate health. Many people in larger bodies are healthy, just as many people do not enjoy them in smaller bodies. As mentioned earlier, it is possible that someone has resorted to unhealthy behaviors in order to lose weight.
It is also necessary to realize that the vast majority of people who lose weight will return to it within a year or so. Although many diets promise permanent weight loss, the evidence consistently paints a different picture.
Countless studies support this. a 2007 review at American Psychologist It found that between one-third and two-thirds of participants in weight-loss studies end up gaining more weight than they lost. a Review 2020 In tIt’s BMJ It looked at 121 weight-loss clinical trials with nearly 22,000 participants, and found that while most of the participants lost weight in the first six months, almost none of them were able to sustain a significant weight loss within one year.
Remembering the compliments of losing weight can make people feel bad about regaining weight in the future, even though regaining weight is actually the expected natural result.
“We would all be better off if people were given the opportunity to feel safe in their own bodies, regardless of the changes that happen throughout their lives.”
You do not have the right to comment on another person’s body without their consent.
Above all, weight-loss compliments are inappropriate and override. Martin said that you should never make comments about anyone’s body without their explicit consent. You’re probably making them uncomfortable by pushing their bodies into the spotlight, even if they’re not totally upset about what you have to say.
“Bodies change throughout our lives, whether it’s menopause, puberty, pandemic, or a thousand other reasons,” Rosenbluth said. “We would all be better off if people were given the opportunity to feel safe in their own bodies, regardless of the changes that happen throughout their lives.”
Although it may be instinctive to compliment someone on losing weight, given the way our culture praises thinness, the best thing to do is to say nothing at all. Weight changes are normal, but there are many complex causes behind them.
If you have an eating disorder, contact: National Eating Disorders Association Hotline At the number 1-800-931-2237.