You may want to convey more body confidence to your friends instead of feeling bad sometimes or making them feel bad about their body. Sometimes the things that are said, no matter how well-intentioned, may seem neutral or self-directed, they can hurt the people who matter most to us.
Instead of being motivating, diet, fitness, and body-related conversations can become toxic. To make sure you’re not unknowingly saddening your friends, here are nine ways to control yourself before accidentally embarrassing them.
Don’t say your lifestyle is better
Finding a lifestyle that makes you look or feel great is exciting, and it’s understandable that you want to share your newfound knowledge or experience with others. However, when you give unwanted diet or training advice, you start to plant seeds of doubt in those around you … something that can make them feel very bad.
What you are saying, despite its good intentions, can make others feel bad when they think their body is not as cared for as yours. It also indirectly implies that the bodies of those around us are not good enough as they are and that they cannot trust their own bodily instincts.
Avoid saying things like, “You shouldn’t eat this.”
Saying things like, “You shouldn’t eat this” can make others feel insecure about their bodies and can even lead to someone else having a dangerous eating disorder. The constant discussion or obsession about how much to eat and what to eat fuels the notion that food has value and is not simply fuel for the body.
Even if you’re just commenting on your own eating habits, like saying something like, “I can’t believe I just had that cupcake!” You have to wonder how your friend who just had a cupcake, too , feels, and then you’ve said that.
Don’t comment on what someone else is eating in a negative way
On the other hand, directing your opinions about the food on someone else’s plate is even worse. Friends might think they are helping by pointing out the calories or fat grams in the food someone is currently eating or what the person ate before, but this behavior is not only rude, it is also embarrassing.
You don’t even need to say a word to make someone feel uncomfortable. If you find yourself staring at a friend while they’re eating, you can make them feel like they’re doing something wrong … It’s probably best to keep your eyes on your own plate.
Beware of compliments
Sometimes if you have been complimented on your appearance and want to return the compliment or compliment, but don’t know what to say, you may accidentally say something that is anything but appropriate. For example, saying to someone in a larger body things like: “and you have such a pretty face” is an egregious compliment at best. You may think you’re being nice, but consider how it might translate to the person you’re talking to … and also think about how they might feel at best (or worst).
Good vs. Bad
Using the good versus bad binary when talking about food and exercise can lead to guilt and shame in others. Note how ‘good’ have been this week can make those around us experience a feeling of guilt and shame if they have not been as ‘good’ like us. This indirectly tells people that if they don’t behave like you, then they are inherently “bad.”
Similarly, lamenting about how “bad” you have been is also toxic, although many people in particular use this type of language as a form of bonding. This only serves to reinforce how bad, guilty and shameful that person is, and reinforces that their worth only depends on their body and how ‘good’ they may be.
Don’t complain about your body
Telling your friends that you can’t, for example, go to the beach because you are not “bikini ready” is another self-deprecating way of shaming other people. Send a message to those around you that they may exist in a similar body or a larger body, but that their bodies are not good enough as they are right now. This is incredibly harmful because it implies that you, and no one else, can live and feel comfortable in the body in which you exist …