Post # 1
I don’t want to seem like I am attacking or ignorant, but I do want to ask this. If someone is recovering from an eating disorder (ie immediate or long term recovery of years), is it wise to compliment on shape, size whatever.
I ask because I was reading a post about lack of confidence in a dress due to a (past) eating disorder. There were a ton of comments about the young woman’s waist being very tiny and beautiful. I agree she is a beautiful woman but I didn’t want to comment on the post because for some reason it felt wrong to comment in that context.
Yes, it’s nice to get an esteem boost from the hive on occasion. But when the poster is asking for comments that will necessarily be tied to such a fragile emotional state, is it wise to make such comments? Is it helpful from a psychology standpoint?
I would really like informed comments on this, but if you do have a compelling emotional response, that is welcome too.
Post # 3
I have a family history of eating disorders, so I’ve had to tip-toe around a lot of body and food related comments. I flat out asked my mom “What kinds of things help you?” and her number one was to compliment things that aren’t size- related. I.e. you’re glowing in that dress!, you look fantastic and avoid “perfect” and weight related talk. But that is just one example.
Post # 4
@hsaas91: I was going to say just that same thing. Stay away from comments related to size at all. People with eating disorders don’t benefit from hearing what a beautifully tiny waist they have; those comments are likely to make them start thinking about how incorrect they believe the compliments are, and delving into disparaging thoughts about their size. Say things like “You look beautiful in that dress, it’s a perfect fit for your awesome shape, your body looks so radiantly healthy.”
Post # 5
I would just like to say that it’s vital for a woman to feel validated.. any woman, even you at some point in your ife will look for valadation.
But compliment was never a word i used nor is it a word associated with “treatment”. If I could take the time to explain the mental prowess of a anorexia nervosa it would take more than a wedding board to do so.
However, to address your question forwardly, its very important to explain the honest view, if someone with the AN asks for it.
When it’s given freely, usually it is not taken into consideration. The truth is, it’s a constant mind struggle over what is actually in the mirror and what isn’t seen but reflected by the mental images the person has distorted in their mind.
Post # 6
@IvyClimb: Agreed. I don’t have an ED but it made me uncomfortable when I’d try on dresses and the women in the store would comment on my “tiny” waist. It’s just sort of awkward–general comments on how the dress fits are better, I think.
Post # 7
as someone who recovered from an eating disorder, i won’t comment on someone’s size if i know she has struggled with eating disorders.
personally, i think general comments are much more helpful (you’re glowing, you look beautiful, etc), just because you never know where the other person is in their recovery. if you tell a person that her waist is tiny, there’s a chance she didn’t eat that day or purged the day before or something you wouldn’t know, and she could take that comment as validation for her eating disorder. unless i KNOW that someone has been eating healthfully and has gained weight, i don’t say anything about size.
eating disorders are sinister diseases that are constantly looking for validation, and you don’t want to accidentally give it that validation.
Post # 8
I don’t have an ED, but I am very thin and have heard all my life about people’s jealousy towards my thin frame. It’s enough to make a sane person go crazy.
In general, I try to make compliments or criticisms to ANY ONE based on factors other than size. ED or not, everyone is self conscious about some form on their body and it’s best to just make overall statements and not focus in on anything in particular.
I agree with the “glowing”, “beautiful”, those kinds of comments. Hope this helps 🙂
Post # 9
I saw that post as well and I didn’t feel very comfortable answering. I didn’t want to add to discussion because as little as I know about eating disorders I would think they stem from one’s self-image. I didn’t want to participate in the dialogue that reiterates the original problem…
It’s funny how the two ‘w’s go together, Weight and Wedding!
Post # 10
Like PPs have stated, I would compliment their overall appearance “You look great!”, “That color looks gorgeous on you!”, “Your hairstyle is so cute!” etc.
Post # 11
My sister suffers from a really bad eating disorder (not that any are good), but she was at a point where she might have died because she was so anorexic. Making any comment to her about what she’s wearing, how it looks on her, any shape or size related comment, any comment about ANYTHING she is consuming, consumed or is thinking about consuming sends her into an anorexic spiral. She either responds by lashing out and chastising the person who made the comment or just completely shutting down, leaving the scene and not eating for a long time. So I’ve learned and I encourage everyone close to us not to talk about how she looks at all if they can help it, unless it’s a really general compliment like “you look beautiful” or something like that.
I don’t know if other people with eating disorders are the same way, but this is how I have learned to deal with it. She’s a lot better now, at an almost normal weight and super happy in general, but i still would never comment on anything she’s eating and definitely don’t talk about her shape or size.
Post # 12
As someone who is “recovered” from an eating disorder, I agree with previous posters that it’s better not to make any comments on weight. Even something as well-meaning as “You look so healthy”–that would kill me. I also agree with @kitzy that any sort of compliment based on physical appearance can validate ED behaviors that the individual is engaging in, or can trigger the individual to begin engaging in those behaviors again. I would think it’s better to compliment the dress–“It’s so unique, such beautiful material, so romantic/elegant/classy, etc”.
Post # 13
Great thread. I also refrained from commenting in that other thread because I didn’t want to say something harmful. I’m learning a lot from reading these posts, it’s good to be aware of the effects of one’s words.
Post # 14
Since all the PPs have already given some fabulous advice on this situation, I just wanted to add something for a slightly different situation. In a recent interview with Portia De Rossi on Ellen, someone asked her what advice she would give to friends/family of people struggling with EDs who are trying to “get through to them,” and she said the one comment she would have responded to was “You look sick.” I filed that comment away for future reference and just thought I should share it with you guys.
Kudos to you, Heather for making this thread, this can be some really great information for a lot of people.
Post # 15
I have a long history with eating disorders, and I would honestly prefer that no one ever comment on my body/weight/appearance, whether the comment is positive or negative. It’s hard to accept compliments when you’re not really comfortable in or happy with your body, and many people who have had eating disorders deal with negative feelings about their bodies for years afterward.
Post # 16
i have an ED (anorexia, recovering) and the most triggering remark is when people say i look “healthy” or “good.” as odd as that sounds, these same people are the ones that used to tell me i was “too thin” or i looked “sick.” people with EDs love to hear things like that. when people are actually paying them what they think is a compliment – a person with an ED/tendencies hears “you look average/normal/FAT.” best to avoid saying anyhting about their body….stick to complimenting their makeup/hair/clothes, etc.