12 Ways You May Think You’re Politely Talking About Weight, But Are Actually Being Rude

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Language is more powerful than we often realize. It shapes perceptions, influences behavior, and even determines our feelings. Talking about weight can be a minefield. What you might think is a compliment, or a kind observation can quickly become an unwelcome comment affecting someone’s self-esteem and body image.

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reveals that more than 28.8 million Americans (9%) have struggled with an eating disorder at some point in their lives.

“Have you lost weight? You look great!”

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While you might think you’re acknowledging someone’s effort or new look, you’re implying that they didn’t look good before losing weight. Ouch, right?

Furthermore, weight loss can occur for many reasons, some of which are far from positive. Chronic illnesses, stress, or eating disorders are all possible culprits. Pivot to a more holistic compliment. For example, “You look radiant today!” or “There’s such a glow about you!”

“You’re So Brave for Wearing That”

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When you tell someone they’re “brave” for their fashion choices, you inadvertently highlight that their body is somehow wrong or atypical. Essentially, it’s a not-so-subtle way of saying, “I wouldn’t have the guts to wear that if I looked like you,” which is neither flattering nor polite.

Try saying, “That outfit looks fantastic on you!” or “Wow, you really know how to pull off bold prints. I love it!” This shifts the focus from their body to their fashion sense, which is where it should be.

“I Wish I Could Eat Whatever I Want Like You”

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First, this comment can make assumptions about someone’s eating habits and metabolism, implying that their body size results from unchecked gluttony or effortless slimness. Metabolism, genetics, health conditions, and lifestyle choices play significant roles in a person’s weight and eating habits.

The International Journal of Obesity notes that genetic factors can account for up to 80% of body weight variability. Metabolism is complex and influenced by numerous factors, including muscle mass, age, and hormonal levels. If you must mention food, say something like, “That looks delicious!”

“You’re Not Fat, You’re Beautiful”

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Janet Mock, in her book “Surpassing Certainty,” eloquently states, “When you try to lift someone up by dismissing something integral to their identity, you’re not uplifting them; you’re erasing them.”

By divorcing “beautiful” from “fat,” you’re dismissing a part of that person’s identity and suggesting that their beauty is the exception, not the rule. News flash—beauty comes in all sizes! “You are beautiful,” full stop. No qualifiers are needed.

“You Have a Pretty Face”

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This statement implies that while their face meets some arbitrary beauty standard, the rest of their body does not. It’s like saying, “You’re almost there, but not quite.” Rather than feeling uplifted, they might think, “So the rest of me doesn’t count?”

Compliment them fully. Try, “You have such a great energy that makes people feel welcome,” or “Your smile can light up a room.” Easy, straightforward, and kind.

“Just Try This Diet, It Worked for Me”

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A study published in the International Journal of Obesity (2015) notes that over 95% of diets fail, and people regain the weight they lost within one to five years. Dieting is not a magic bullet—it’s a complex issue influenced by genetics, mental health, lifestyle factors, and even socioeconomic conditions.

Dr. Traci Mann, a noted psychologist and author of “Secrets From the Eating Lab,” argues that dieting can lead to long-term weight gain, emotional distress, and a disrupted relationship with food (2015). Only advise if asked.

“I’m So Fat” (When You’re Not)

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Oh, the classic “I’m so fat” line—cue the eye roll. You’ve heard it, maybe even said it. Imagine this: you’re hanging out with friends, everyone’s in good spirits, and someone who looks like they just stepped off a fitness magazine cover declares, “Ugh, I’m so fat!”

While you’re lamenting over a non-existent muffin top, someone else might be grappling with genuine insecurities about their body. If you’re feeling a little bloated, you might say, “I’m feeling a bit off today,” without making it about your weight.

“Good for You for Exercising”

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Picture this: Jane just finished a marathon, and instead of a high-five or a genuine compliment about her incredible feat, someone says, “Good for you for exercising!” Oh, we meant well, didn’t we?  

When you tell someone they’re doing a great job exercising, the underlying implication can be that you didn’t expect them to be physically active, which can be condescending. You could say, “Look at us, gym buddies! How’s your workout going?”

“Are You Sure You Should Be Eating That?”

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The issue here isn’t just the lack of tact; it’s the assumption that you are incompetent to make your own food choices. It reeks of condescension and body-policing, putting the recipient on the defensive.

Now, imagine you’re about to enjoy a slice of decadent chocolate cake at a party, and someone, with a raised eyebrow, hits you with this phrase. Instant mood killer, right? Everyone deserves the joy of savoring their food without unsolicited opinions.

“You Look Healthier”

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Everyone’s body is different, and health doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all look. When you slap a “healthier” label on someone based solely on their appearance, you’re perpetuating false health standards.

Moreover, the term “healthier” can be incredibly triggering for those who have struggled with weight, body image, or eating disorders. A comment that might seem complimentary could reopen old wounds or feed into existing insecurities. Try something like, “You seem happy,” or, “You have such a positive energy today.”  

“You carry your weight well.”

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It subtly reinforces the idea that there’s a “right” and “wrong” way to have a particular body type. It’s like saying, “Despite what society expects someone your size to look like, you somehow manage to pull it off.” Nobody wants to be complimented for “overcoming” their own body.

Instead, appreciate their kindness, sense of humor, or incredible talent in something they love doing. “You have such a fantastic energy about you!” or “Your passion for [insert activity here] is truly inspiring!”

“I Wish I Had Your Curves”

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While you think you’re celebrating their body shape, you’re drawing unsolicited attention to their physical features, which can leave individuals feeling objectified or judged. Nobody wants that kind of pressure, darling.

As blogger Virgie Tovar discusses in You Have the Right to Remain Fat, body comparisons can undermine self-esteem. It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone involved. Compliment something non-physical. For example, “You have such a sharp mind!” or “Your kindness is so refreshing!”

“It’s Just a Joke, Don’t Take It So Seriously”

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Consider this: You’re at a party, and someone quips, “Oh, that dessert? You better watch out, we don’t want you rolling out of here!” When confronted, they say, “Hey, it’s just a joke!” Uh, no. The comment is a thinly veiled jab at someone’s weight and eating habits.

The late, great Maya Angelou said it best: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Be the reason someone feels valued and appreciated, not the punchline of a hurtful joke.

“I’m Only Saying This Because I Care”

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It subtly implies that something needs fixing, and it portrays the speaker as a self-appointed savior, swooping in with unsolicited advice. Couching criticism with a façade of care doesn’t make it any less hurtful.

Casual or “caring” comments about weight can contribute to increased stress and anxiety, adding emotional weight to the actual weight discussion. Educate yourself about body positivity and health. Health at Every Size (HAES) is an excellent resource advocating accepting diverse body shapes and sizes, focusing on holistic well-being rather than weight.

“You’re so small/big for your age/height.”

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This remark can make people self-conscious, diminishing their confidence and self-worth faster than a high-speed elevator. Imagine saying, “You’re so big for your height!” to a teenager struggling with their body image. It can contribute to feelings of inadequacy.

Conversely, telling an adult, “You’re so small for your age!” can be equally damaging, implying they don’t measure up (pun intended) to societal expectations. Statements like “You have a radiant smile!” or “I love your sense of style!” are golden and won’t tread on sensitive territory.

6 Tips For Successful Weight Loss For Women in 2024

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Successful weight loss for women often calls for an individualized approach, considering the unique physiological, psychological, and lifestyle factors that influence a woman’s weight. It’s not just about adopting a generic calorie-restricted diet or a strenuous exercise regime. Instead, it encompasses a holistic view of health, including balanced nutrition, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and stress management.

6 Tips For Successful Weight Loss For Women in 2024

13 Obvious Things That Signal You Have No Life

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Are you living life to the fullest or just going through the motions? Don’t worry—we’ve all been there. But sometimes, the signs stare us right in the face, and we ignore them. Here are 13 tell-tale signs that perhaps you need to inject more excitement into your day-to-day existence!

13 Obvious Things That Signal You Have No Life

20 Reasons You Are Just Not Losing Weight Despite Your Best Efforts

Image Credit: Biblio

Alright, let’s get real here. We’ve all spent that guilt-ridden hour post-binge, googling “Why can’t I lose weight?” while munching on the last of our comfort food, haven’t we? Don’t beat yourself up!

20 Reasons You Are Just Not Losing Weight Despite Your Best Efforts

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