Another plea has been made for us to stop commenting on weight gain/loss, will we listen this time?
Celebrities know that their place in the spotlight comes with a certain level of scrutiny, but once again they are asking us to stop commenting on their bodies. Ariana Grande took to TikTok to discuss recent concerns about her body, encouraging her fans to be gentle and reminding them that they don’t know what others may be going through.
Selena Gomez has also spoken up about body shaming recently, speaking on Instagram live about her mental and physical health, and how her weight can fluctuate because of it.
While celebrities shouldn’t need to make statements about their bodies, perhaps it will help more of us see the damage that can be caused when we speculate and comment on other people’s bodies.
As someone who has had a restrictive eating disorder, gained weight during recovery and has had several weight changes since – I’m no stranger to comments on my body.
When I was in the depths of my eating disorder, a nurse (who clearly hadn’t read my notes) told me I “really should put on some weight”. All I could think was ‘I would if I could’, and cried all the way home.
After gaining weight over Covid, another medical professional advised me to lose weight to help with joint pain. Whilst I was in recovery by this point, being encouraged to lose weight still felt incredibly triggering. It took some time to push disordered thoughts to one side and stay healthy.
And most recently, my Pilates teacher praised me for losing weight. An assumption had been made that I was trying to lose weight and would be thrilled to hear this ‘compliment’. In truth, the compliment burned. It felt intoxicating to my eating disorder which lies dormant until triggered. Again, it took a moment to gather myself, push away disordered thoughts and move forward.
Why am I telling you this? To give you just one example of how comments on someone’s body can cause unseen harm. As Ariana notes in her video, you don’t know what someone is going through.
What seems ‘unhealthy’ to you, might actually be what’s best for their body. They may be struggling with illness, mental or physical, as Selena points out. They may already be working on it with their own support system.
What to do if you’re worried about someone
As both Ariana and Selena explain, weight changes can indicate something is going on that you don’t know about. If you don’t know the person (for example, if they’re a celebrity), it truly isn’t your place to comment or speculate. If you do know and care about the person, however, you might rightly have concerns.
If my parents hadn’t noticed my weight loss, I may not have been seen by a doctor as quickly as I was. So, if you do notice a loved one’s body change and you are worried it is OK to express your concern. But… there are ways to do this without commenting on their body.
- Have you noticed any changes in mood or behaviour? If you have, say you’ve noticed a change and want to ensure they’re OK.
- Reach out for a chat to check in with how they’re doing, without any mention of weight/bodies. Dig deeper into how they’re feeling right now, they may just need some space to open up.
- If they seem unwilling to talk or insist everything is fine – let them know you are there for them if they do want to talk.
It’s also helpful to keep in mind that they may well be… fine. Healthy can look different for everyone. When I was carrying less weight, society would likely deem me healthier than I am now. But in truth, it’s now that I feel my healthiest – in both body and mind. I no longer battle with myself for my right to eat and I exercise to feel good, not to shrink.
Ironically, what hinders my ongoing recovery is society’s warped view of health and yes… people commenting on my body.
So while my plea won’t sound as loud as Ariana’s or Selena’s, let me add it to the pile anyway. Please stop commenting on people’s bodies. For everyone’s sake.