You look so skinny! I’ve both given and received that “compliment,” many times, but is it really a compliment? Why is being “skinny” the ultimate? Frankly, it is not necessarily a good thing and often sends the wrong message - what about one’s energy, skin, hair, eyes, muscle tone and digestive health? Instead of saying, “you’ve lost weight,” (which may or may not be a goal), perhaps we could reconsider how we encourage each other?
With the pressure from magazines (where photos are almost always retouched), the Internet, TV and Hollywood to maintain a model-like physique, the road to getting there typically isn’t the paved with a healthful route.
People pursue fads and starvation diets; over exercise and then beat themselves up if they’re not “skinny enough.” I know I have!
My husband opened my eyes to this when we were dating. Whereas I would see someone and think the person beautifully thin, Bob would point out visible bones, lack of curves, and how drawn his/her face looked. He had the courage to tell me when I looked that way - I had been doing a program and lost some weight quickly. I reached a low I hadn’t seen since high school. It gave me the giggles I was so joyful! He, on the other hand, was turned off. “You look drawn and older.” I hadn’t thought of it that way – I thought any kind of thin was good! What an eye opener. I certainly didn’t want to look older. I wanted to look vibrant and hot! I added exercise, put on a couple of pounds and my energy soared and I felt great.
It pains me when I hear people gauge their self worth and success solely based on weight. The word “skinny” is equated with perfection. Yet no matter how thin, it will never bring happiness in a vacuum.
Plus, it can lead to life threatening illnesses like anorexia and bulimia, as well as low self-esteem and confidence.
Ever look back at a picture of yourself and think, “Wow I can’t believe I thought I was fat?” Yup, I’ve done that too. It’s amazing how hard we can be on our present selves.
“You look skinny” is a compliment we’ve been taught to give, but it comes with a lot of baggage for both the giver and recipient:
- For the person giving, does it come from a place of jealousy? - “Gosh I wish I were that thin!” Or a place of love – “Wow, Barbara looks the best ever and I’m so happy for her!” Those are two very different origins.
- And for the recipient, does it bring a smile to his/her inner being? - “Wow I look skinny! Awesome!” Or does it come with a whole bunch of other mishegas? - “No I’m not! I’ve been eating bon bons all week!”
Plus, what if the person is not skinny by choice, but ill or actually trying to gain weight?
So let's stop putting “skinny” on pedestal.
Whatever weight you are, whatever weight you want to be, just stop, look in the mirror and say “I am perfect right where I am, now.” Find something about yourself you like – your glowing skin (amazing)! Your strong muscular legs (they rock)! Those vibrant eyes (how wonderful to see the world through)! That smart presentation (what a confidence builder)!
Transcend that to how you look at others.
Lose the “you’ve lost weight” compliment from your repertoire and replace it with something else. Regardless of whether someone did lose weight, just say “I don’t know what you’re doing, but it’s working – you look great/stunning/glowing/strong/energized/handsome” etc. “You’re exuding healthfulness – what are you doing?”
Oh, and if you’re on the receiving end of a compliment, please take it with grace and gratitude. When someone goes out of his/her way to say something nice to you, consider that they actually mean it. No need to provide a rationale or point out the things you still need to work on. A simple “thank you” and mental note to pat you on the back will make both parties feel good. And you deserve it!
So tell me, what will you replace “you look skinny” with?
Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™