This is something I’ve wanted to write for a while now. The concept of discussing one’s weight has been stuck in my head especially after the death of Chadwick Boseman. He silently fought colon cancer for 4 years & as he began to lose weight as a result from the disease, the media & his followers pressured him to answer questions about it. The questions were asked so relentlessly that he even removed photos from instagram to escape the badgering.
Why are we so concerned with it? I know society has created a rather odd obsession with how people look (I’ll emphasize women, here) but let’s just all agree to be a friend and just not open up that topic of conversation. Here are a few reasons why…
Is it just me or is it a little creepy that someone would be paying that close of attention to a body other than their own..enough to comment on it? I remember my mom telling me stories of people she didn’t know trying to touch her pregnant belly in the grocery store. I’m mega-creeped out by that. It doesn’t feel all that far off from commenting on someone’s weight change.
It enforces really crappy cultural norms & values.
Whenever we comment on someone being thinner or smaller, we’re upholding the crappy cultural norms that most women can agree are unfair. It feels like we’re assigning value to being smaller.. and for what? Weight loss isn’t inherently good or bad and being thinner shouldn’t be equivocated to being better. And just as a reminder, some people are totally happy with their weight & size and are not trying to lose or gain weight.
Health is not conveyed by size.
I’ve done a lot of reading about women who suffer from eating disorders (mainly anorexia & bulimia) who are able to keep their bodies in a “technically healthy” Body Mass Index (BMI) range for a long time. Over the years, BMI has proven to be an imperfect measurement of health. It doesn’t account for weight of muscle (The Rock, by government standards, is considered obese) or people who may, by cultural standards, be skinny but hold all their weight in their belly- which is associated with many health risks. My main point here is: while weight is certainly a marker of health, it’s not the only one. Read more here.
You never know what people are going through. Perhaps the person you just complimented on losing weight only lost it due to trauma or grieving. Perhaps a person has a history with an eating disorder. Perhaps someone’s weight loss or gain is a symptom of a physical or mental illness they are determining or battling.
I’ll add that if you feel close enough to someone to comment on their weight, you likely know (or should know) many more interesting and compliment-able things about them. Like their perspective on something or a goal they’ve been working hard on.. come on people, it’s not that hard. So if you’re searching for something to say, try one of those things. While societal norms are hard to break (they’re called ‘norms’ for a reason) let’s all be a friend to one another and just take weight related comments off the table.