Body Positive Language and Compliments
When trying to create a Body Positive atmosphere within our relationships, one area where we can potentially send messages that uphold societal standards and expectations is how we show love and praise to others.
If our only compliments to our friends and loved ones are based on their appearance, we inadvertently send the message that one’s value lies in their appearance. In addition, if we compliment someone on losing weight or appearing thinner, we uphold messages that glorify thinness as an ideal body type or goal.
Any changes within someone’s body or appearance can have profound meaning to them personally that we may not understand. Rather than simply pointing out changes, take the time to ask and understand the feelings, motivations, or circumstances behind those changes, and support and encourage your friends through them.
When you do want to show love and praise for your friends and loved ones, some alternative compliments could focus on how they carry themselves or interact with the world around them, their unique skills and abilities, or how they make you feel.
If you want to compliment someone’s outfit, focus on how a pattern or color compliments someone’s body or personality well or how it shows off their creativity or style.
But, your friends and loved ones are beautiful inside and outside of their appearances, and you can tell them that they are beautiful/stunning/sexy while being Body Positive. Instead of saying they “look” a type of way, make the easy switch to saying they “are”: detaching the assertion of the characteristic from current appearance, and connecting it to an inherent trait of that other person. When using these compliments be sure to continue to affirm this in any and all contexts outside of when people have put obvious effort into their appearance.
While being intentional about our words and compliments may seem like a small task, how we show our friends love and affirm their unique identities can be transformative on our journey to better loving and supporting them and in turn how we appreciate ourselves and our own bodies.