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Forum #6 Responses

What is "supportive" and what is not, when it comes to body image?  When another person says something to you about your weight or your eating or your health, (directly or indirectly) how to you feel about it?  

Readers offer their thoughts:

Let's start with your pet peeves:
What feels unsupportive?

Boy, you really tore into that piece of chicken!

You're starting to look a little chunky.

You're going to eat all THAT?

If you'd just lose some weight you'd be a knockout." And my favorite, "I bet if you were having regular sex, your health would improve and the extra weight would go.

Oh, you're a big girl!
You don't look at all like what your mother/ sister looked like at our age.

You have such a beautiful face, why don't you lose some weight to show it off?

You lost weight--you look great!
I hate that one. I struggled with depression throughout my twenties, and whenever my depression was at its worst, I would drop weight, dramatically. Then everyone would tell me how great I looked--not seeing the bags under my eyes, etc. I've ranged in these years from underweight to overweight--no one ever expressed concern when I was underweight, which proves the lie that the concern is about health. Also, if I make any change--new glasses, haircut, etc, I get asked, did you lose weight? It's as if losing weight is the stand in for everything good in life.

You shouldn't eat that...

I've really been doing good
on this diet, you should try it...

Wow, look at the big butt on that girl!

Lost any weight lately? If so, look behind you - I think I know where it is!

How did you let yourself get like that?

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How fat do you intend to get before you decide to do something about it?

I didn't even recognize you - just how much weight have you gained?

"You know, they did a test on pre-school age children. They showed them pictures of a healthy child, several children with various obvious disabilities and a seriously overweight child. Then they asked the kids which child they'd most like to be friends with, which one they'd pick second and so on. Every child surveyed picked the overweight child last. It starts really early in our culture." (I think she sincerely meant to motivate me but that really ticked me off.)

How's your weight? (that's the best one...& it's from my Dad!)

You'd be sooo pretty if you lost weight.

You can`t bellydance. Where`s your belly? (Next time someone says that I will ask where`s your brain?)

Enjoy it now. You`ll be fat one day

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If it really upsets you, why don't you go to weight watchers or something?

Any comment that assumes I'm on a diet, or prepared to share in that constant female preoccupation. Such as--"This is okay to eat, it's low in calories/fat/taste/whatever."

Do you really think you should be eating that?

When someone decides for me if I want something or not. "You're not hungry" or "she doesn't need that."  I think almost any comment, is hurtful.  Moms should watch what they say, my mom has said to me, if you were smaller she would buy me all the expensive clothes, like my sister. It makes you want to eat the whole gallon of ice cream.

When my husband tells me that "I've gotten soft," "I move like an old lady." Or tells me, "I wish you would go back to being the way you were, I guess I didn't praise you enough back then.

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Every time my mother in law sees me she says "you've lost weight." It gets on my nerves because I've been the same weight (slim to medium) for 15 years and my weight has never been an issue. So why does she say it, does she think I used to be fat?

How can you eat so much?

When my boyfriend looks at me strangely when I eat something unhealthy.

You've gained weight, it suits you

I work at a gym and whenever people tell me how they eat or the workout that they do I feel like they are trying to give me advice.

The attentive looks of men that are not associates.

You're going to regret eating that later.

Let's just put this away before we finish it.

When people tell me (now) how great I look and want to know how I did it. What do I say, "just try anorexia, it's the miracle weight loss machine"?? But they mean mostly nagging, "Have you eaten today? What did you eat? You should eat more ____."

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Why? So I can conform,
and lose who I am?

(When offering someone something to eat), "Oh no, I have to watch my weight." or "Oh no, I don't dare eat anything like that." 

Just the comment, "you look so good, you have lost some weight," is enough to make me wonder, so did I look bad before? And also why is looking good and losing weight so intertwined. I also really hate being around people who are constantly pointing out people who would be cute if they weren't so "chubby." My brother in law was the worst he would point out out any woman that didn't look like she only ate lettuce and icecubes, and comment on her. It was really stressful always trying to get him to stop treating women like items of furniture that you could criticize or ogle at any time. He was even over heard saying "he didn't see anything he was interested in" at a bar. 

You should go to the gym today. You haven't gone in a week. 
It sucks being overweight and constantly fighting it. Sometimes I want to sit in the dark and eat and eat and the next day I want it to be ok with everyone if I'm not thin.

you have such a pretty face you just need to lose weight.
don't you want the guys to talk to you.
your sister is the right size.

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You don't look so thin anymore, and you look great!
(makes me feel panic, fear, and makes me think I will become fatter and fatter and it will never stop)

Comparing me to others, and so is even bigger than you are. Persons acting as the diet police at work and at home.

Any comment about my size, be it fat, skinny (and I have been both) and how this relates to my goodness as a person. eg "you look great, have you lost weight"

You lost weight, keep up the good work!

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What feels supportive (or, what would feel supportive if someone could do/say it?)

You're one of those women who looks terrific no matter what she happens to weigh.

I actually prefer full-figured women,
especially those who are shaped like you are.

You know, you are really looking good these days.

Well, you've certainly put it on in all the right places
- I think you look terrific!

I love your energy.

Compliments unrelated to being slim. `I love what you`re wearing` or even `You`ve got a great smile` When I compliment other women I try to avoid mentioning size, so it would be nice to receive similar compliments back.

Being supportive, a lot of the time, is just being a good listener.

Have you been working out? You look stronger. Women are always praised for getting smaller. That is not why I work out.

You look so healthy, what's your secret?

Hey, lets go for a walk...the sky is so pretty this evening.

That color looks wonderful on you. You are lovely.  
I don't want to be judged by my size. Lots of things on my mind: For the most part I don't base my value on my size, and actually like being a woman of physical substance and size. My family is uncomfortable with it and refers to me as the big girl, even though I'm 42 and certainly no longer a girl. It is difficult to not take on their discomfort with my appearance. I know that I am not lazy or slovenly and that I am pretty and sensual. The holidays are the tough times.

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General nice comments,
but not overdoing it.

I'm proud of you.

I like you for what's inside, not outside. [Am trying to be proud of myself, regardless of outward appearance.]

You are beautiful, no matter what and I think you are fine just the way (or weigh!) you are.

Anyone willing to admit and own that it feels and tastes good to eat! My favorite thing to say is: "I'm hungry," because it felt so wrong to say it for so long.
[I'm trying to live my life outside of the boundaries of numbers on the scale or the tags in my clothes. I want to count, not how much weight I have or haven't lost. . . One more thought--I'm just getting good at looking around at everyone else in the manner I've said that I want everyone else to look at me. I've been as judgmental as the next person, and I didn't realize it was going on! Looking at people with non-size conscious eyes as been, well, eye-opening!]

You ran that whole way, I am so proud of you!

I love the way you always smile so bright. You always look so pretty.

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If someone would say that I am too skinny I would be very happy. 

If someone would tell me I work out too much or that I don't eat enough I would feel so thrilled. I work out a lot, probably too much, and I tell my boyfriend how much I ran and I always hope he is going to say "why would you run for that long, you don't need to." Instead he says "good" which I take to mean "good hopefully you will lose weight." 

You look healthy,
lets take a hike in the rain forest.  [I am trying to get in shape without obsessing about my actual weight.  Bathroom scales should be banned -- they are bad for our emotional health].

Want to go get pie for lunch?  [I am trying to accept my body for what it is, not what I believe I should be for others to like me. I think if the rest of the world was more accepting of the fact that not everyone is a size 6-14 it would make it easier for each of us to accept ourselves as we are].

"How do you feel?" "You have such pretty hair" (not face, not I disassociate from it, it's not something I can control, so it's just a simple compliment). "You're so strong!" "You're such a good listener." I find . . . myself in a mental battleground. I want to lose weight. I want to keep starving. I shouldn't. Unsupportive-in-the-long-run statements are supportive of my unhealthy eating...supportive is supportive of long-term health and care.

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"You are great the way you are." Thank you, I kinda feel that way too. Don't put me mud on me, I'm trying so hard to see the beauty in myself.

don't worry about your weight you look good girl. 
some men like full figured women.
love yourself.

Your butt is great and soft!

I like your body exactly the way it is. And even if it had a few more pounds, it would still be you. and you is what I love.  You: your mind, your body, just the way it is. I�m still trying and trying and trying to like that body of mine, to love it and to feel comfortable with it. To take care of it. to trust in it. But I barely can fight the fear that comes over me every time I ate more than I planned to eat. I can barely fight the feelings of discomfort, every time I can f e e l it; in my jeans, sitting on a chair, in a tight shirt, walking on the street. How can I stop this, how can you c h a n g e w h a t y o u f e e l ??? 

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You are beautiful as you are.  I don't share my weight loss or exercise goals with anyone who I deem unsupportive, so I don't allow others to bring me down. I only accept comments from those who I share my journey with.  This is a great site. We women need to put on blinders and ear plugs to society's messages and stop being victims. We need to lead our own journeys, with positive support.

If people would just keep all weight comments about my weight to themselves and talk about something else. I don't like people to make comments on what my body looks like because it's my personal body and nobody but me and my doctor's business!

Any comment about how I am as a person, my achievements, how I am feeling. ie anything not related to my external appearance.  I would like to feel more connected to who I am, not what I look like.

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