Body Image is the way a person perceives his/her body and the opinion he/she has of his/her own physical appearance. This is an important concept that is related to self-esteem and mental health. Body image starts developing in childhood and grows with us. If a child feels unappreciated or criticized for his physical appearance it can lead to a poor body image. This can cause self-esteem issues and other problems in adult life. A mild form of a poor body image can manifest itself as an inability to take compliments or excessively seeking external validation. In more serious cases, poor body image can lead to development of mental health issues like Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Anorexia Nervosa and sexual dysfunction.
Body Positivity and Compliments
Body positivity means you believe beauty exists in every body shape and size and color. Body positivity means to have a healthy body image and good self-esteem. It is about feeling beautiful in your natural skin, size, and body type and accepting yourself wholeheartedly the way you are. Pleasant as this concept may sound many men and women struggle to achieve a body-positive attitude. The reason that people find it so difficult to feel comfortable in their own skin is that the environment they are raised in constantly feeds to them that they are not enough. Not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, and not worthy of good things. This poor self-esteem makes it hard to receive compliments as they truly believe they are not worthy of the compliment. It becomes a struggle to believe that you are beautiful the way you are.
Michelle Elman, who is a Body Confidence Coach who has shared her own journey towards body positivity in her Amazon # 1 bestseller ‘Am I Ugly?’. It’s really a great book and you should give it a read. She says that the fact that you are a body-positive person and comfortable in your body does not mean that you do not want to receive compliments. You always feel a boost in self-esteem and confidence after receiving a compliment. Knowing that other people also think you are as awesome as you think you feel good. External validation will always hold value for you no matter what; however, you just need to learn to be selective in what kind of compliments you chose to receive.
Body Negative Compliments
Compliments are meant to boost your self-esteem and improve your body image, but what if they are doing the opposite of that? These are the compliments also referred to as backhand compliments because on the surface they are praising something about the receiver but in reality, they are shaming the receiver or making them uncomfortable about their physical appearance. You should really avoid giving such compliments as they damage the self-esteem of the receiver and makes you look a mean person. Following are some examples of body negative compliments, please note if you have been giving such compliments without realizing the damage you are causing and try to avoid them in future.
- You carry yourself really gracefully for a big girl.
- You are so brave for such a tiny person.
- This dress is making you look slim; you should wear similarly cut dresses more often.
- Have you lost weight or is it the dress you are wearing? You look good.
- Wow! This dress is really showing off your otherwise invisible curves.
- Have you changed your shampoo? Your hair looks better.
- This dress suits more on your body type.
- You look young for your age.
- This skirt is doing a good job of hiding those thunder thighs! Good choice!
- Your new hair cut makes your jawline look less muscular, it’s nice.
- I would never have dared to wear heels if I was as tall as you. I love your confidence.
- Your face looks thin.
- Your eye makeup is on point, taking all the attention of your big nose.
- This shirt is really complimenting your complexion; you should wear this color more often.
How to respond to a body negative compliment
It could really take a toll on your body image and self-esteem if you are at the receiving end of a backhand compliment. You can refuse to receive a body negative compliment and tell it is for what it really is. Best case, they will become aware of their mistake and apologies. Worst case, they might take an offense, when it is you who should be offended to be served a backhand compliment. Body Confidence Coach Michelle Elman encourages you that you should not just let go of the body negative compliments go because it’s all fun and lovely until it becomes an obsession and everyday goal.
You can simply say:
- I am sure you mean it as a compliment but I don’t feel carrying oneself gracefully has to do anything with one’s height.
- I am sorry, you are mistaken my eye makeup was not intended to take attention off my nose. I like my nose, it functions well and helps me breathe alright.
- I think you were trying to compliment me but it didn’t sound like that.
- If you were trying to give me a compliment you really should have not made it about my skin/color/height/weight/body type.
Body Positive Compliments
I am not sure if body-positive compliments are a great thing because ‘I like your curves’ or ‘your beauty bone looks so perfect’ still put a strong emphasis on maintaining a certain amount of weight and body shape. Here I am listing some very safe body-positive compliments you can give to your spouse and friends without hurting her body image or self-esteem. You can also check out 100 compliments which have nothing to do with physical appearance.
- I like the way you smile, it really warms up my heart.
- You look so perfect!
- Wow! You are looking healthy.
- You have magical hands; they can take away the pain with just a touch.
- You look so cute when you pout.
- You are beautiful.
- Let me hold those beautiful hands.
- I love the way your hair touches your chin/shoulder/waist.
- I like the way your eyes shine with excitement when you are talking about your new job.
- You are the prettiest lady I ever laid my eyes on.
- You look adorable when you blush.
- I can look at you forever.
- You make this dress look prettier.
- I like the grace you carry yourself with.
- You should laugh more often it lights up the room.
- Can I get a hug from the beautiful lady?
- You can steal my breath away with just one smile.
- I like the way you tilt your head before shooting that lovely smile.
- Your eyes are so beautiful I can look into them all day.
- Your beauty is distracting.
- Your smell is nice.
- You look like a strong girl.
How to receive a body compliment
The only right way to respond to a body-positive compliment is to smile and say a thank you. No one is putting pressure on you t meet any crazy standard of beauty. They are telling you that you are beautiful the way you are and you know it’s because beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and colors. Be confident and bold in receiving a compliment and develop the habit of complimenting yourself regularly.