You only have to look around you to see that our society is obsessed with weight. It's on TV, magazines, social media. I had to stop reading magazines because I was sick of reading about the same celebrity that was reported as being too curvy one week and then too skinny the next.
But it makes me wonder, who gets to judge what you should look like? Who sets the rules? In reality, can you actually win? It is a well-known fact that magazine photos are airbrushed so I guess this means that no one can win?
But it seems that judging others on their weight is socially acceptable because everyone does it. In fact, it may even seem that people are being judged on how they look more than anything. So it must come as no surprise that we judge ourselves so harshly and critically when it comes to our bodies. And that there has been a rise in the number of eating disorders, particularly in teenagers, with numbers of hospital admissions doubling in the last three years.
When someone loses weight, it is an automatic reaction to congratulate them, on their achievement, just as you would if they'd done well in their exams or a work project. You're doing a nice thing right? Not necessarily.
When you say to someone "wow you look great, you've lost so much weight". This is what the person you're talking to can hear:
• So I didn't look great before?
• I'm only good enough now because I've lost weight
• I obviously need to be lower in weight in order to be approved of
• People only value me when I'm lower in weight
• I don't want people noticing me and commenting on how I look, I just want to disappear again
I'm sure that not everyone thinks like this, but as someone who struggled with anorexia, no comments about me or my weight would be taken as a compliment. I judged myself solely on my weight and when someone else commented, I assumed they judged me on this too and noticed every pound on my body.
When I was losing weight fast, I was still complimented on my weight so it was hard to believe that there was a problem because everyone was saying how great I looked. I had a mental health issue but no one can see that, they only see my body, and this is how I was judged.
I also remember a friend saying "Wow, Kim you've lost so much weight, I need to lose weight too, what have you been eating?" I remember trying to dance around this and divert her attention but she wouldn't give up. I eventually was honest and told her. She was shocked and felt awful that she had pursued this. It wasn't her fault but sometimes we don't think through our actions and how they can affect others.
Would you comment on someone's weight gain in the same way? As a recovered anorexic, I would advise never to comment on a person in recovery's weight gain, even if you think you're helping and being nice. Believe me, you're not.
Don't even say 'you look healthier' or 'you look much better' as all that is heard is 'I look fat'. We know we've restored weight, which is our biggest fear in recovery, and that and the dread of people making comments are part of the reason why we don't seek help or try to recover.
Eating disorders aren't about food, eating or weight but this becomes the focus. I'm not saying that everyone who ever loses or puts on weight has an eating disorder, but it can often be as a response to unhappiness. So why not give that person the opportunity to talk, to open up about their feelings. That's more helpful than a compliment.
I recovered from anorexia by dealing with the root cause and changing my mindset. I retrained my brain using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), a simple yet powerful tool which involves tapping on acupressure points on the body, similar to acupuncture but without the needles, which help us release negative emotions so we feel more calm and relaxed.
EFT transformed my life so much when I didn't even think it was possible. I became a qualified EFT Practitioner and founded Kiss Goodbye To Ana. I now help women with eating disorders, transform their lives, by dealing with the root causes and changing their mindset, rather than working with meal plans and goal weights. For more details see www.kissgoodbyetoana.com