Why it’s not Always Smart to Lead with a Physical Compliment

We are all guilty of it.  Leading with a comment about someone’s appearance has replaced the basic niceties of modern conversation when greeting someone.  Let’s face it, it’s easy to comment on someone’s clothes or looks instead of on something of more substance.  It has become an easy fallback comment for many people. Why? When we don’t know what to say to someone……we compliment them.  It’s used as a conversation starter at a party or social event. The intent is to show that we are interested in getting to know you better, but in some cases, can have damaging effects when we don’t truly know the other person.

It takes effort to think beyond appearance and comment on something besides looks or clothes. Try replacing you look “pretty or skinny” with you look “healthy, rested, or relaxed”   Or, just don’t comment on appearance at all. Try introducing yourself to someone with just a smile, a hello, and an extended hand.

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Greeting people with a comment about their appearance can, unfortunately, be a trigger for certain people. Especially those with eating disorders. If they receive compliments for their thin appearance, this can encourage them to lose more weight.  So, if an individual struggles with an eating disorder and they hear that they “look great” or look “so skinny”, this can encourage them to keep on the unhealthy path.  It’s all about control. Those with eating disorders often struggle to be “the thinnest in the room”.  A comment about their weight, can serve as a source of pride or success and encourage more weight loss.  And, a comment like “you look too skinny” can also be seen as a badge of honor to someone who thinks that you can never be too thin.

The same can also be said for people who have always struggled to put weight on.  Maybe they were picked on for their slight appearance during childhood.  Many people hold on to those damaging/bullying comments into adulthood. They don’t just go away, especially, for those who look at more “curvy” or “muscular” physiques as being the ideal.  Hearing “you look too skinny” reaffirms what they are already feeling about themselves. It deepens their disapproval of self and increases their body shame.  For those already questioning their thin appearance, comments like these can ultimately affect their self-esteem, their relationships, and their sense of self-worth. After many failed attempts at trying to put weight on, they can end up in a downward spiral that leads to depression and thoughts of being unwanted or unloved.

Words have more impact on others than we realize.

When is it ok to comment on appearance?  When you know the individual well and it is truly heartfelt.  Like the friend that has struggled with weight gain, but is on a “healthy” path to losing the weight.  Telling her that you are proud of her for losing the weight can be very encouraging as long as you can back up your words. Be sure to support her and her new healthy lifestyle. Offer to go on walks or hikes, check out some new recipes and spending time cooking together can put more credence behind your words.

The Latest Teenage Obsession “Thigh Gap.”

The Latest Teenage Obsession “Thigh Gap.”  How does it affect your self-esteem?

Most females can relate to the concept of looking at another woman and thinking; “I wish I looked more like her.”  Maybe it’s her smile, her wavy hair or even her full lips…… but her thigh gap? In the past year the growing trend of “thigh gap” propaganda on the internet has changed passing thoughts of admiration for someone else, to being dangerously pursued by teenage girls who are seduced by the belief that having the coveted thigh gap (inner thighs which do not touch) is the ultimate touchstone of beauty. Experts Blame The Media For Promoting This Trend Amongst Teenage Girls and I think they are right. Thigh gap?  Are you serious!  What’s next…ear lobe envy.

The increasing infatuation that teenage girls have with “thigh gaps” grows even more disturbing when you begin to investigate it further. Just a simple Google search, shows several top page results not only advising young girls on how they can achieve thigh gaps, but also promoting Pro-ana thigh gap culture. Only buried underneath a collection of Thinspiration and other pro-thigh gap tumblrs and blogs, you can find actual informative research articles that explain the dangers of this new body obsession and why it is physically unachievable for most people. Most experts say that this demonstrates a new low in self-esteem and body acceptance amongst young girls caused by the social pressures to achieve this ridiculous standard of beauty.

When you consider the negative health and psychological ramifications of pursuing “thigh gap” status, it is a lot darker than one would initially want to believe. Young girls are cheering each other on, in online forums to purse “thigh gap” status. Encouraging anorexia and bulimic behavior as well as self-harming, and suicidal tendencies if the thigh gap is not achieved. Again, for many females thigh gap is physically impossible at a healthy weight. We are not talking about changing ones hair color or personal style. This practice condones seriously damaging behavior.

We can’t let our younger generations of women be defeated by this kind of propaganda. There needs to be more action taken to inform young girls about self-esteem and body image AND less emphasis placed on promoting and literally “selling” beauty to the vulnerable and young.

As far as I am concerned, we have all become victims of our cultural obsession with being “perfect” (whatever that means.)  The “thigh gap” obsession is just one more expression of this that breeds peer pressure, anxiety and depression triggered by the bullying that coincides with the “Thigh Gap” pursuit culture that is found online.

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