Are you insulting people with your compliments?
An older woman sitting next to me at the restaurant looks me up and down:
“What are you like a double zero?!”
Me: “That’s such a rude thing to say.”
Woman: “It is?!”
Me: “Yes you’re commenting on my body weight, it’s no different than calling me fat.”
Woman: “OMG you’re right! But I didn’t mean it like that, I’m a mother, I meant it as a mother…”
Me: “My mother also used to make comments about my body weight and it hurt and I’ve had to do a lot of work to undo that trauma.”
The woman is now in tears: “I’m so sorry, I never thought of it like that. Thank you for teaching me, I really appreciate that. I’m so sorry I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
I held her hand and explained to her that in the past I would just smile uncomfortably and let it slide but I’ve been praying for the strength to find my voice in situations like this. I understand that when women say this shit to me (just about every single time I leave the house) they think they mean it as a compliment. After all we live in a patriarchal society where a woman’s value is based on her looks and being skinny is considered a virtue. Most of the time these women are projecting their own insecurities. By making me “too skinny” they find themselves more acceptable. But I’m done making people feel comfortable with their insecurities at my expense.
My whole life I’ve either been too chubby or too skinny for somebody.
I’m absolutely repulsed by the fact that people still find it socially acceptable to comment on a woman’s weight. We’re not fucking ornaments, stop it. Unless you’re telling someone how strong or healthy they look, keep that shit to yourself.
And while we’re on this subject, telling a woman “You look young for your age” is also NOT a compliment. It’s a reminder that you’re judging her on her looks and it perpetuates a belief that youth is more beautiful and her “value” will fade as she ages.
I’m so thankful that I was able to respond with kindness instead of reacting from my pain. I’m also grateful that this woman was so receptive and was able to consider my point of view instead of getting defensive.
Thank You for reading,