Everyone loves a compliment, right? To be told they look good? While your in-the-moment intention may be ‘body-positive’ your comment may be hurtful or even damaging to the recipient.
Your Compliment May Be Backhanded
If you have a friend you haven’t seen in ages and they have recently lost 5, 10, or 50 pounds your “OMG you look amazing.” Is kind, right? Maybe but it implies that they didn’t look good before they lost the weight. And more importantly, when you follow up your compliment with “I was really getting worried about you”, “You had really let yourself go”, or “You look so much better now”—it lets the recipient know how much you were judging them previously. It’s not just weight though, aging, clothing choices, muscle mass, or telling someone they are too young or too old for the way they look can all end up more hurtful and offensive than not.
You Don’t Define Beauty
What many body compliments convey is your personal, and almost always, media-driven translation of beauty. But you don’t define beauty. We are not our outer shells and no matter what you do you will age and your beauty will fade. If your shell is how you define your value you will be left with nothing of substance. If that is the way you feel regardless, keep it to yourself. While you might not find someone attractive there is a long list of people who see things differently.
Even if a friend, acquaintance or loved one has made some major changes focus more on specifics—how the color blue they are wearing brings out their eyes, how you love their new haircut, how fierce their earrings are. Try to keep your body comments to yourself because it’s not about you.