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OPINION: Don't comment on someone's body, good or bad

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Creative Commons | The Daily Wildcat

"Body Image. The subjective concept of one's physical appearance based on self-observation and the reactions of others." by Charlotte Astrid/Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0)

There are phrases, compliments and comments that we say without even thinking. Comments regarding physical appearance, even if they are meant as a compliment or with good intention, can be harmful to someone’s self-esteem.

In a society that glorifies beauty and thinness, many individuals don’t always realize that complimenting and making comments regarding physical characteristics and body types can actually be harmful. Complimenting another individual's appearance or making a comment regarding their physical features is something that most people don’t see as a negative thing to do. 

Common phrases regarding physical appearance include: 

"Stop saying you’re fat, you’re beautiful!”

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“You look so skinny in that!” 

“She’s gorgeous for a plus-size model!”

“Have you lost/gained weight?”

“Wow, are you sure you can eat all that?”

“I wish I was as tiny as you!”

Commenting on another person’s physical looks, whether that's weight, height or appearance, can be damaging to their self-esteem. Although these comments are not always meant to be harmful, they are not necessary and can do more harm than good. 

The phrases individuals say without thinking can be taken in a completely different way than what they were intended to mean. This can cause people to feel insecure, less confident and even body shamed. A Fit Rated survey of over 1,000 people found that about 94% of teenage girls and 64% of boys have felt body-shamed by others.  

We never know what others are going through or what insecurities they may or may not have. According to DoSomething.org, 91% of women don’t like their bodies. Pointing out the physical characteristics of others may make them feel insecure and as if they need to take drastic measures to change themselves.

It's also important to keep in mind that you never know what another person is going through in life. For example, you may think that asking a person if they have lost weight is a compliment. However, they might be going through something such as sickness, stress or they may be struggling with disordered eating. Society glamorizes weight loss and having a “perfect” body, so naturally many individuals will compliment each other about weight loss without stopping to think about how it could potentially be a negative comment. 

We also never know what insecurities others have. For example, casually commenting on another individual's height by saying that they are “so tiny” could be damaging to their confidence and self-esteem if that is one of their major insecurities they have. 

Comments and even compliments on another individual's height, weight and looks are dangerous. They reinforce and promote society’s idea that we are only as good as our physical characteristics, which is far from the truth. There is more to an individual than just how they look on the outside.  

When it comes to compliments we should focus on more meaningful comments. For example, telling another individual how much you like their energy or personality. Comments related to personality are more meaningful than comments related to physical appearance. 


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Julianna is a senior majoring in journalism and sociology. She enjoys writing and reporting on topics related to mental and physical health and wellness.


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