Ever notice how when we greet people we tend to make a comment about their appearance?
- You look fabulous
- You look well
- You’re looking good
- You look tired
- You look beautiful in that dress
- You look like hell, did you get any sleep?
- You look like a movie star tonight
- You’re looking professional today
- You look amazing in those jeans
Women have been trained to comment on each other’s looks from childhood. It doesn’t matter how positive the comment is, it’s about LOOKS, not about the person and who they are. We do this innocently and without thinking. But the effects can be deep. These comments tell us over and over that how we look is more important than how we feel or who we are.
Next time you meet a friend, see if you can say something that has nothing to do with their looks. It’s harder than it might seem.
Here’s some suggestions:
- Hi, how are you today?
- You seem happy.
- What’s happening in your world?
- It’s great to see you!
- I love the colours in your dress
- I want those earrings!
- Great to see you’re smiling
- Fighting fit today?
- Hi, so glad we made time to catch up
Sounds easy but it’s not. You’ll be fighting against a lifetime of training to assess and comment on appearance.I want to ask you a question. Have you ever said to someone, “You’ve lost weight, you look fantastic”? We’ve all done it so don’t beat yourself up. But really think about what you’re saying. If they look fantastic now, does that mean you think they looked like crap before? Do you really want to send that message? What if they’ve lost weight because they have an illness or are doing chemo? What if they have an eating disorder and you’ve just triggered them to keep losing more weight? And most importantly, did they give you permission to comment on their weight or body shape?
If you don’t know the backstory, don’t comment. And even if you do know the backstory, don’t comment – because you are saying they looked bad before and that’s not something anyone wants to hear, no matter how encouraging you are trying to be. The take-home will always be that looks are more important than anything else about that person.
You are part of the Physie community and our hope is that you will all support each other – a network of like-minded women who encourage each other and create a safe space to dance, learn and flourish. So please, before you comment on someone’s body, stop and think about the massive impact you can have. And make it a positive one.
As Taryn Brumfitt (2023 Australian of the Year) says, “Let’s all join the growing movement to empower people of all ages to grow and thrive in a world free of judgement and shame about their bodies.”