My wildly talented, creative, curious, intelligent, playful, kind niece. Sure, she is only 7 months old, but she radiates these traits.
Ever since she was born, I have become increasingly aware of my natural inclination to want to comment on her cuteness (I mean she is cute af).
And while it is a compliment, I can't deny my inner guidance system setting off alarm bells telling me to comment on ANYTHING BUT HER APPEARANCE.
Given the reality of our world, girls are bombarded with messages of beauty from the minute they pop out of the womb:
"oh you look so pretty"
"your dress and bow are so cute"
This follows us throughout our lives, where appearances that fit the current ideal are highly regarded and praised. Which is why we go to such great lengths to achieve them.
And when we feel like we don’t live up to the arbitrary standards, our self-worth takes a nose dive.
What I have discovered is that complimenting appearance, and especially weight loss, even if well-intentioned, can cause more harm than good in the long run.
Someone might "look good" because they've lost weight but we have no way of knowing what led to that weight loss.
It could be from disordered eating, restriction or taking diet pills and that compliment is positively reinforcing unhealthy behaviors.
It's possible that person is dealing with an illness, like cancer or an autoimmune disease so the weight-loss is reflective of a decrease in health.
Not all weight loss is good. Not all weight gain is bad.
For many women, what is commented on the most is their appearance and it leaves most of us, myself included, continuing to believe in the lie that that’s where our true value lies, and that is simply not the case.
On Episode 23 of the LOVE YOUR BOD POD, I dive into compliments and when they can do more harm than good.
And I challenge you to compliment your friends and family on anything but appearance!
Give it a listen! Then I'd love to hear your thoughts, be sure to reach out on IG.