How to respond to negative body comments from people

Raise your hand if you’ve been victim to someone commenting on your body. So, that’s all of us. Whether in a positive or negative way, someone has commented to us about all of our bodies at some point.

I noticed as I gained weight (synonymous with stopping over exercising and restricting my variety and intake), I got less comments from others. While I still have thin privilege, I exist in a body that leans more toward average than thin. The comments I used to get praised me for being so thin, which boosted my ego and kept me in a disordered pattern of exercising and eating. These are the comments many of my clients fear missing out on when recovering. Who doesn’t crave external validation?

On the other end of things, people will often verbally criticize others’ bodies. I find this often has to do with their own insecurities they are projecting. Whether it’s “too thin,” “your body looks great” or “you’ve gained weight,” it’s not helpful or warranted.

People commenting on others’ bodies often don’t know the full picture–the client losing weight due to cancer, the grieving widow who is struggling to eat enough, the person going through menopause (which results in hormonal shifts, a slowed metabolism and weight gain–all normal).

So, how do we respond to these things? Here are a few suggestions:

“Please don’t comment on my body.” (works for both positive and negative comments)

“My body is not a topic of conversation.”

“Can we discuss something more interesting than my weight/body?”

“Do not comment on my weight.”

“My body is not up for debate.”

“I would appreciate if you would not comment on my body.”

“If you continue to comment on my body, I will no longer be speaking to you.”

Full disclosure: it can feel super awkward and uncomfortable to use these phrases, and it gets easier the more times you practice.

You are also allowed to walk away.

How do we handle it internally? Know your worth. You are intrinsically worth of unconditional love, support and acceptance. It’s hard to remember this at times, but it’s true. Self compassion (we love Kristin Neff’s book, Self Compassion) and positive self talk are two ways to tackle this on the inside.

Ultimately, learning to set and hold boundaries with others is the only way to successfully handle these situations. Our favorite book on boundaries is Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Tawwab. The reason we love this book is because it gives concrete examples of phrases to use, how to navigate sticky situations and tons of sample scenarios with responses.

About Chelsea Edwards, MS, RDN, CEDS, CD/LD
Chelsea is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist.

States where our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists we can see clients:
Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, California, Florida, Utah, Missouri, Kentucky, Texas, Michigan, Virginia, New York.

Looking for more support?
Fill out our contact form to request an appointment with one of our providers, and we’ll get back to you ASAP! We also offer support groups!

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