In my most recent social media survey I asked the simple question, "What do you think caused your trouble with body and/or food?"
A kind of response that appeared more frequently than I expected was something along these lines: "When I was in high school, my coach/teacher/boyfriend/parent/family member made a comment about my weight, and I started to restrict my eating." Responses that attributed illness to comments made by a loved one accounted for about 20% of the 33 responses.
Can everyone start being a little more sensitive about how we use our language? Making a passing comment about someone's weight, their eating habits, or even their exercise patterns can have a lasting impact on how that person evolves and moves forward in the world.
To put it in perspective, our country is getting smarter about gender identity and sexuality. We are slowly shifting from a gender binary/ hetero-centric mindset to one that acknowledges that these concepts come in the form of a spectrum that a person can land somewhere on. Once that person lands on the spectrum, they have the freedom/right to slide, skip, cartwheel from one side to the other.
We need to start talking about bodies and food mindsets with the same amount of sensitivity as we do gender and sexuality.
For instance, a common mistake people make is to compliment a person for loosing weight. "Oh you look so good, you look skinner than the last time I saw you" is one we hear often. If we were to continue with my comparison above, this might be similar to saying something like "Oh you look so good, you look more like a woman than usual." Or, "You look more heterosexual than you used to." COULD YOU IMAGINE HOW MUCH THIS WOULD NOT FLY IN THE WORLD WE LIVE IN RIGHT NOW?? (And it most certainly shouldn't fly)!
What I'm saying is, when you're insensitive and unaware of the comments you make, you're causing more harm than good. If a person looses weight and looks "different" than they used to, proceed with caution. You will never know for sure how that person lost the weight. There is a chance that this person started living a healthier life, however there is also a chance that person started throwing up their meals or not eating at all. Weight loss doesn't always mean someone is healthy and doing well. By speaking with insensitivity, you will perpetuate the problem.