If “You look fat” is the ultimate insult to a woman, then telling her she looks skinny is the ultimate compliment.
Like many women, hearing "Oh my God, you look so skinny!!" used to make me feel awesome too…I felt beautiful and accomplished. It was music to my little ears.
But oh, how things have changed.
Now, I recoil when someone comments on how skinny/thin/tiny I look because it reminds me that we still believe that female smallness is something to be achieved, celebrated and envied.
I don't blame the people giving me the compliments at all. I know they mean no harm.
They're just doing what we do as a culture: celebrate weight loss.
After years of loving the attention that a smaller, thinner body brings, I’ve decided that it’s no longer a compliment to me for 2 reasons:
1. It reinforces the myth that a smaller me is a better me. Women are programmed to believe that being at our best usually means being at our smallest. Our culture constantly tells and sells us the idea that fat is the worst thing you can be, so of course smallness seems like an accomplishment. Here's the truth: it's NOT.
2. It placed an unnecessarily high value on what other people think. After basking in the afterglow of someone celebrating my thinness, I started to wonder what they said about me BEFORE. Their words became the motivation for my food choices, workout routine and the outfits I wore (WTF??). I allowed the external validation to serve as my internal compass. I'm so done with that.
Being smaller is NOT why we're here on this Earth. It's not the end game in this life.
I want us to challenge that idea.
I want women to know that we’re worth more than our dress size, our weight or the number of days we can go without eating sugar.
Yes I want to look good, but I want to be the one who decides what that means for me.
Now that I've stopped giving a flying fuck about being smaller, a couple things have happened:
I have the time and mental space to focus on how I treat my body. Am I being respectful, compassionate, and trusting?
I've discovered that I want to be recognized for more than having 6-pack abs. I have a lot to offer the world and it has nothing to do with my weight.
These concepts of body respect and self-discovery are life-changing.
I've put myself back in control...and I love it.
This new way of thinking and being allows me to appreciate my body, have a more peaceful relationship with food, and live an amazing, productive life.
I realize that I can't control what other people say about me (and I'm not trying to). I can, however, control the way I feel about it and respond to it.
I’m also not trying to tell you how you should feel about being told how thin you look...you get to decide that.
I'm not calling for a cease and desist on compliments.
Instead, I want you to decide what being beautiful and healthy means to you.
I want you to realize your full potential in life and not squander it on dieting and weight loss.
I want you to know that a smaller size isn't the most important thing you can be.
I want us all to see the complete human being beneath the surface and celebrate the beauty in that.
P.S. If you want to begin unlearning harmful messages about food and bodies, check out Write To Get Free. This is a self-paced 4-week experience where we use writing to explore themes like truth, anger, reclamation, and liberation from diet culture.
If you loved this post and want to read more like it every week, get on the list: