Due to living in a society that tends to perpetuate poor body image, there are a lot of remarks that you may not realize are body shaming when they definitely are. When it comes to body shaming, none of us are out of the line of fire, unfortunately. Almost everyone I know has experienced body shaming in some way, even those who are conventionally attractive.
A lot of folks have no qualms regarding commenting on each other's bodies and appearances. After all, the media does it too, so it's become socially accepted behavior. We're subsequently almost at a point in which having confidence within yourself is seen as taboo, because — ICYMI — you're supposed to hate your body. And anything else is just plain vain.
The thing is, that's all BS. Whether society shames your body type or praises it, or if your mom comments on your weight whenever you're home for the holidays, nothing should be allowed to alter how you feel about yourself. Only our own opinions should matter, and I'm personally of the mindset that my body and everybody else's bodies are brilliant just the way they are.
That said, I'm not an innocent angel when it comes to body shaming (even now, as a body positive writer). Most of the time, body shaming comments we utter are likely down to us not realizing that what we've said has the potential to be upsetting. But we should still be mindful of not saying these things in the first place.
1. "You look good for your age."
If you don't want Carrie Fisher to call you out on Twitter, then you should acknowledge that this "compliment" implies that a person can only look "good" if they look youthful. In other words, #ageism.
2. "Those clothes don't suit you."
If you feel happy in my clothes, that's all you need to care about. "Flattering" is a body shaming term, and telling someone that a style doesn't "suit them" is usually just code for, "Your body is too [fat or skinny or short or long] to wear that." The truth? Clothes are made to be worn and should be worn by all body types.
3. "Are you compensating for something?"
This joke has likely been heard by folks of every gender and every size, but as soon as this remark leaves someone's mouth, I want to scream. What's the "something" you speak of? Because if it's related to my body, then you're shaming me for how I look (or don't look).
4. "I would never date someone who had..."
Even though this comment is a throwaway mention of your type (and you are allowed to have preferences, obviously), it has the potential to be heard by someone who you apparently find undesirable. And in that case, they're definitely not going to feel good about themselves.
5. "You've gained/lost weight."
This is seriously never a compliment. No matter who you're directing it to, please stop thinking it's your place to comment on someone's weight unless they specifically begin engaging you in a discussion about said weight. Even then, please try to avoid linking weight loss or gain to phrases like, "You look so much better now!" That simply isn't for you to decide.
6. "You don't need makeup."
7. "Who are you trying to impress?"
Your mom, obviously. OK, I'm so not here for sarcastic jokes. But this can seriously hurt people's feelings. When we dress our bodies up, it doesn't necessarily mean we're doing so for the attention of other people. Oftentimes, we dress our bodies up for ourselves only.
8. "I'd never wear that."
Well good thing I am and you're not then, right? The problem with this is that you're reinforcing the idea that the person wearing whatever item you're talking about shouldn't be doing so. More often than not, you're probably thinking about their weight (or your own) as a reason why.
9. "You should dress for your body shape."
If you ever try to compare my body to an item of fruit, I'll scream. Again, please stop with the notion of "flattering." If I don't care, then why do you?
10. "I wish I looked like you."
This one, of course, is body shaming to yourself. Oftentimes, our own body issues are the hardest to address. Please remember you shouldn't need to put yourself down to make others feel good.
11. "Your body is distracting me."
This one's arguably the origin of all arbitrary school dress clothes and an insult that you'll like continue to hear into your later life. This isn't a cute chat-up line, because it means you haven't been listening to the person at all. Of course, if a girl says this to me, I might feel differently. In my experiences, it's more likely to be said as a genuine compliment or joke about misogyny rather than a sexist observation when coming from a woman.
If you're just trying to give a witty remark to something, my advice is simply to think before you speak. In fact, just think before you say anything. You know, to be on the safe side.
Image: Georgina Jones (1)