Compliments that mean bad

 

Whenever I see family or family friends, aunts and uncles, one thing is certain, they will comment on my weight. Or my skin. It’s always either a pat on the back, “You’ve lost weight!”, paired with nodding in approval and looking to my mother for confirmation (which she refuses to give, reassuring them that I’ve actually gained weight), or a friendly warning, “You need to lose weight. If you lose weight, you’ll look pretty.” Sometimes, I’m surprised with a “Your skin looks lighter”. Because I’ve grown accustomed to hearing these remarks, over and over again, I no longer get upset. I get angry.

I assume it’s the only kind of compliment they know how to give. To a girl, that is. Well, to an overweight girl, what else is there to talk about? It’s sort of like telling young boys that they’ve grown taller or encouraging them to eat more so that they will grow taller. Tell a girl how fat she’s getting and she’ll be grateful for the warning. Tell a girl she’s successfully shed some rather uncomely pounds and she’ll positively glow and think, “That’s all I’ve wanted to hear my entire life! I can finally live happily ever after! (Once I’ve reached my goal weight and goal size and everyone else approves, that is)”.

When they come across someone like me, it’s cute to be fat when I’m little but a disaster when I’m older. I try to imagine that they mean well. But why not compliment a girl on how tall she’s getting? And not just because that’s the only thing you feel is appropriate since you don’t think she’s pretty even though she doesn’t need to lose weight. While we’re at it, let’s leave the concern for whether boy can or cannot grow a beard or how much they can or cannot dead-lift at the door. I see you, too, male beauty standards.

Better yet, let’s compliment girls and boys on their personality and their achievements. Let’s celebrate spelling bees and poetry competitions and hockey trophies. Winning or losing the genetic lottery should be irrelevant, at all times, when complimenting children and adults alike. Because, out of the many things in this world that we cannot always control, you have chosen to compliment or insult the one thing that we are led to believe we can control, the thing we must control. And you cannot begin to imagine the consequences that may follow.

 


 

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12 Replies to “Compliments that mean bad”

  1. Man, I hear you with this one! I had an uncle I hadn’t seen in at least six years walk up to me and the first thing he said was “She (my mom) needs to gain weight and you need to lose weight.” I hated him so much after that. Are you freaking kidding me?

  2. This is such an important discussion. Sometimes family can be the harshest with their comments about weight and food. I’ve had experiences with came that leave me so self-conscious of every bite I take. Look forward to more of your posts. 🙂

  3. Such a lovely post that highlights an unfortunately common flaw in our society today – our mile-high beauty standards that women are suppose to uphold in order to be considered “attractive.” My family does the same thing.
    Love this post and your blog!

  4. I hate that we judge on appearance in our world. I am trying to change my own reactions to people and I think I have made progress, but still have a long way to go. Until I’ve gotten to my goal of not judging on appearance, I can’t expect anyone to treat me differently.

    1. I believe that simply realising that you are wrong, and have been wrong in the past, in your actions or opinions is the first step. Wanting to change your future actions and opinions is the step two. Thank you so much for reading.

  5. I really like this! I hadn’t stopped to think in a while how bad those “good” comments are. It was something I was aware of a few years ago and kind of avoided. Great read! Keep writing!

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