Kari Dahlgren

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What to Say When Someone Comments on Your Weight: 25 Respectful Ways to Set Boundaries

25 things to say when someone comments on your weight: set boundaries

Changes in body weight are normal and natural. Sometimes our weight increases and sometimes it decreases. Although these fluctuations are natural, they can bring about unwanted body comments, especially in a culture where thinness is worshiped and weight loss is strongly sought-after. This it can bring up anxiety when dealing with social situations during a season of ‘body flux.’

Body-comment anxiety isn’t just exclusive to comments on weight gain, either. Many people struggle with skinny shaming just as intensely, which is also perpetuated by a culture that’s obsessive and even resentful of thinness. The holiday season especially can usher in a wave of unsolicited comments about our bodies, especially when we haven’t seen someone for almost a year. Bodies change, and when they do, it is more noticeable with the more time that goes by.

We’ve all been there, caught off guard by remarks about our weight, whether well-intentioned or not. It’s in these moments that we can protect our emotional well-being by having a set of empowering responses on what to say when someone comments on your weight.

Where Do Body Weight Comments Come From? Understanding Body Shaming

If you’re searching for ideas on what to say when someone comments on your weight, it’s likely that you’ve either dealt with it in the past or are presently dealing with it. I can really empathize with this, because I know what it’s like for people to comment or even tease you about your body weight.

In today’s society, body shaming can include both fat shaming and skinny shaming. Although we are more accustomed to thinking about unwanted body comments revolving around weight gain, people can also make unwanted comments about weight loss too. Either way, unwanted body comments can perpetuate self-doubt, low self-esteem, and even unhealthy behaviors and attitudes towards body image.

In order to separate yourself from diet culture and protect yourself against unwanted comments on body weight, it’s important to understand the dynamics of both fat shaming and skinny shaming.

Fat Shaming

Fat shaming occurs when we are subjected to derogatory comments, judgment, or discrimination based on body size or weight. This form of body shaming perpetuates the harmful belief that being overweight or having a larger body is inherently undesirable or indicative of laziness, lack of self-control, or poor health.

Fat shaming can manifest in various ways, such as:

  • Negative comments: Individuals may face hurtful remarks about their appearance, weight, or body shape. For instance, hearing phrases like “You should lose weight” or “You’d be so pretty if you were thinner” can be deeply damaging.
  • Bullying and teasing: Fat shaming can take the form of bullying or teasing, whether it occurs in person, online, or through social media platforms. Body-related jokes, memes, or targeted ridicule can profoundly impact an individual’s self-esteem.
  • Discrimination: Fat shaming can also lead to systemic discrimination, such as weight-based bias in employment, healthcare, or social situations. This discrimination perpetuates the misconception that thinness equates to beauty, success, or worthiness, while larger bodies are stigmatized and marginalized.

Skinny Shaming

Conversely, skinny shaming involves derogatory comments or engaging in negative behavior towards individuals with slim or thin body types. It is important to remember that thin bodies can be natural or they can be perpetuated by eating disorders, and skinny shaming only exacerbates the problem. Furthermore, skinny shaming does not get as much attention as fat shaming, and they are distinctly different.

Some examples of skinny shaming include:

  • Body policing: Skinny shaming often involves unsolicited comments about someone’s weight, such as being told they “need to eat more” or being accused of having an eating disorder without any evidence.
  • Invalidating experiences: People who are naturally slim may have their experiences invalidated or belittled, with others assuming that their body size automatically grants them societal privileges or that their struggles with body image and self-acceptance are nonexistent.
  • Stereotyping and objectification: Skinny shaming can involve objectifying individuals with thin bodies, portraying them as weak, fragile, or lacking attractiveness. This perpetuates harmful stereotypes and fails to recognize that body diversity exists among all shapes and sizes.

It’s important to recognize that both fat shaming and skinny shaming stem from societal beauty standards and deeply ingrained biases. These practices reflect the insecurities and prejudices of those who shame others rather than any inherent flaw in the individuals being shamed.

Instead of perpetuating body shaming, we should strive to celebrate and appreciate the diverse beauty found in all body shapes and sizes. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their appearance or weight.

What to Say When Someone Comments on Weight Gain

While comments on weight loss may be perceived as compliments, remarks about weight gain often carry a different tone, often laden with underlying negativity. It’s important to recognize that these comments are not a reflection of your worth or value but rather a reflection of the person making the comment. In such situations, it’s crucial to respond in a way that protects your boundaries and maintains your self-esteem.

Boundary-Setting Responses

Here are some responses you can consider when faced with an unwanted comment about weight gain:

  • "I kindly request that you refrain from making comments about my weight or appearance."
  • "I value our relationship, but I am no longer willing to engage in conversations that involve body shaming or negative comments about my appearance. Let's focus on more positive and uplifting topics."
  • "I understand you have opinions, but my journey towards self-acceptance and body positivity requires a supportive environment. I ask that you respect my boundaries and avoid commenting on my weight or body."
  • "Weight fluctuation is a normal part of life, and I'm learning to embrace my body at every stage. In fact, I’ve been on one of the most empowering journeys of my life, and I’ve never felt better."
  • "I'd prefer to change the topic to something that does fixate on physicality and instead talk about something actually meaningful. How about we talk about what you’ve been up to lately. Any new passions or hobbies? I can tell you about some of mine."

Direct Responses

When you’re feeling more direct, here are some ideas on what to say when someone when someone comments on your weight:

  • "I feel objectified by that comment and I don’t appreciate it. Weight is just one aspect of my overall well-being. Why don’t you ask me about what I’ve been doing to make the world a better place? I have lots to share there. Let's talk about the things that truly matter to us."
  • “Did you know that over 25% of people with an eating disorder attempt suicide? One of the reasons for this is a cultural obsession with body weight. Unwanted comments on body weight, much like the one you just gave me, perpetuate this problem. You can make the world a better place by keeping those comments to yourself.”
  • “I’ve been learning a lot about psychology lately, and I read a study that shows people who comment on other people’s weight gain are more likely to be riddled with self-criticism.”

What to Say When You Don’t Have Energy

When you don’t have the energy for confrontation, or when the person commenting on your weight is related to you and you want to save face, consider these responses:

  • "My weight is a personal matter and not open for discussion. Let's focus on something else."
  • "Rather than focusing on weight, let's celebrate the things that make us unique and bring us joy."
  • "Comments about weight can be hurtful, so let's aim for a more supportive and uplifting conversation."
  • "My self-worth isn't tied to a number on the scale. I'm focused on my overall well-being and happiness."
  • "Weight gain is a natural part of life for many individuals. It's important to approach these topics with sensitivity."
  • "I'm on a journey of self-love and acceptance, embracing my body as it is and prioritizing my health."
  • "Our bodies change over time, and that's okay. Let's celebrate growth, resilience, and the beauty of imperfection."
  • "I'm choosing to love and appreciate my body at every stage, regardless of any weight fluctuations."

Remember, your worth is not defined by your weight, and you have the right to set boundaries in conversations about your body. By responding with confidence and redirecting the dialogue, you can create a more positive and supportive environment for yourself and others. Embrace body acceptance, celebrate diversity, and prioritize your own well-being above societal expectations.

What to Say When Someone Comments on Weight Loss

While some may perceive comments on weight loss as compliments, it’s important to recognize that they can have unintended negative effects. commenting on someone’s weight loss often stems from a society entrenched in diet culture, placing a disproportionate emphasis on thinness as the ultimate measure of worthiness and beauty.

Even if well-intentioned, commenting on someone’s weight loss can undermine someone’s efforts if they have chosen to stop dieting and listen to their body instead of external food rules. Comments on weight loss may reinforce harmful beliefs, depending on where someone is in their journey of giving up dieting and making peace with food and body image.

As individuals striving for a more inclusive understanding of body image, it is our responsibility to redirect these conversations and promote a mindset that values health, self-acceptance, and body diversity.

Boundary-Setting Ideas

Here are some responses you can consider when someone comments on your weight loss:

  • "Weight loss isn't my primary goal, actually. I'm focused on taking care of myself in a way that feels balanced and sustainable. If you have some time, I can tell you more about it."
  • "My journey is about fostering a positive relationship with food and my body, rather than fixating on weight loss. In fact, in giving up the desire for weight loss, I was finally able to stop obsessing over food."
  • "Let's shift the conversation away from weight. I have found a positive effect on my mental health when I don’t fixate on food, weight, or anything related to it. How about we discuss our favorite hobbies or upcoming plans?"

Direct Ideas

When you want to be more direct, here are some ideas on what to say when someone comments on your weight:

  • "I'm trying to concentrate on my overall health and well-being rather than the number on the scale. I actually threw away my scale and have felt so much better ever since. You should try it!"
  • "Did you know that weight is not the sole indicator of health? I'm working towards a holistic approach that considers both physical and mental well-being. You should try it!"
  • “Physicality is an interesting topic! The color of this wall paint is interesting too, isn’t it? It’s not totally white-white, it’s somewhere between an eggshell and an off-white. Gosh, talking about the way things look is so interesting.”
  • "I appreciate your concern, but remember that health looks different for everyone. I'm doing what feels right for me."
  • "Your kindness means a lot to me, but let's move away from discussing weight and focus on other things that celebrate true joy, like our passions and life purpose. Do you know what your personal mission statement is? I can share mine if you’re looking for something to talk about."

When you’re not exactly friends with the person who commented on your weight:

  • "Weight is a sensitive topic for many, and it’s actually rude for you to assume weight loss is my goal. What if I’m recovering from an eating disorder and trying really hard to get body image off my mind? You should stop assuming things about people that you don’t even know."
  • "Oh, was that supposed to be a compliment? It’s actually risky to comment on someone’s weight when you don’t know anything about them. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rates of all mental illnesses. You can make the world a better place by focusing on non-physical compliments instead. Have a good day."

What to Say When You Don’t Have Energy

When you’re not trying to turn it into a conversation, try these ideas on what to say when someone comments on your weight:

  • "I'm striving for body acceptance and self-love, regardless of my weight. It's about embracing my body as it is. It has been the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done!”
  • "Let's embrace body diversity and shift the conversation towards acceptance and self-care."
  • "I'm more interested in feeling strong and confident in my body than fixating on a specific weight. Let's support each other's journeys."

I’d also like to emphasize the confrontational nature of some of these ideas on what to say when someone comments on your weight. While some comments are simple and polite, others are quite bold. I acknowledge that the ability to say something bold to someone, especially when it feels like confrontation, can take time to develop.

Social anxiety should not be underestimated, and it can make it even harder to confront people when they cross our boundaries. Trust that practice helps. Also, know that other self-affirming practices – like giving up dieting – help heal our self-esteem.

When we stop ‘failing’ at diets, which are clinically proven to not work, we also stop beating ourselves up for it. This gradually helps improve our self-esteem over time.

What to Do When Family Comments on Your Weight

When it comes to family, dealing with unhelpful comments about your weight can be particularly challenging. While we may not be able to completely eliminate these relatives from our lives, setting firm boundaries becomes crucial to preserving our emotional well-being and maintaining a positive relationship.

Here are some strategies for handling unwanted comments on your weight from family members that you want to preserve a relationship with but still honor your boundaries around:

  • Reflect on your own feelings: Before engaging with family members’ comments, take a moment to acknowledge and process your own emotions. Recognize that their comments are not a reflection of your worth or value, but rather a reflection of their own biases or insecurities.
  • Set clear boundaries: Communicate your boundaries firmly and assertively. Let your family members know what topics or comments are off-limits for discussion. For example:

"I would appreciate it if we could refrain from discussing my weight or appearance during family gatherings. Let's focus on enjoying our time together."

"It's important to me that our conversations are supportive and uplifting. Let's avoid comments about each other's bodies and instead celebrate our accomplishments and shared experiences."

  • Enlist support from allies: Identify family members or friends who are supportive and understanding. Seek their support and discuss your feelings about the comments together. They can provide comfort and help navigate challenging situations.
  • Redirect the conversation: If a family member makes an unwelcome comment about your weight and you just don’t have the energy for confrontation, try shifting the conversation to a different topic. Here are a few examples:

"I've been focusing on so many other exciting things in my life lately. Let's talk about what's been going on with you!"

"Let's talk about something positive. How are your hobbies going? I'd love to hear about your recent projects."

  • Educate and inform: Some family members may be unaware of the impact their comments have on your well-being. Choose a calm and private moment to explain your feelings and perspective. Share information on body positivity, the detrimental effects of eating disorders and how body-weight comments can perpetuate the problem, or other concepts that promote a healthier relationship with food and body image.

Remember, setting boundaries with family members may take time and consistent effort. Be patient with yourself and remain committed to prioritizing your well-being. Ultimately, you deserve to be surrounded by a supportive and nurturing environment that promotes acceptance and love, regardless of your weight.

Practicing Self-Compassion While Defending Yourself from Weight-Comments

Practicing self-compassion is a transformative approach to body acceptance and overcoming low self-confidence. Kristen Neff, a leading expert on self-compassion, provides invaluable insights and practical techniques that can help us develop a kinder and more understanding relationship with ourselves.

By embracing Neff’s teachings, we can cultivate self-kindness, mindfulness, and a deeper recognition of our shared humanity. These concepts form the foundation of self-compassion, allowing us to navigate through body acceptance challenges with grace and empathy.

Self-kindness, a pillar of self-compassion, is about treating ourselves with compassion and understanding, extending the same care and empathy that we would offer to a dear friend. It involves replacing negative self-talk with kind and supportive statements, prioritizing self-care activities that nourish our well-being, and embracing self-acceptance.

Here are some ways to cultivate self-kindness:

  • Positive Self-Talk: Challenge negative self-talk by consciously replacing it with kind, supportive, and encouraging statements. For example, replace “I hate my body” with “I am grateful for my body and all it does for me.”
  • Self-Care Rituals: Prioritize self-care activities that nurture your well-being, whether it’s taking a relaxing bath, practicing yoga, journaling, or engaging in hobbies that bring you joy.
  • Self-Compassionate Affirmations: Repeat affirmations that promote self-acceptance and self-love. For instance, say to yourself, “I am worthy and deserving of love and acceptance just as I am.”

Recognizing our shared humanity is another essential aspect of self-compassion. It entails understanding that we are not alone in our struggles and that imperfection is a universal experience. By acknowledging our shared experiences, we cultivate empathy for ourselves and others.

Here’s how you can incorporate this concept into your self-compassion practice:

  • Remind Yourself of Shared Experiences: Recognize that many people struggle with body image issues and self-confidence. Remind yourself that you are not alone in your journey, and extend empathy to others facing similar challenges.
  • Seek Supportive Communities: Surround yourself with individuals or groups that promote body positivity and self-acceptance. Engage in conversations and activities that foster a sense of belonging and shared experiences.
  • Practice Forgiveness: Forgive yourself for any perceived flaws or mistakes. Understand that making peace with imperfections is an essential part of the self-compassion journey.

By incorporating the principles of self-compassion into our daily lives, we can foster a deep sense of self-love, acceptance, and empathy that transcends societal expectations. The people that make unwanted comments about our weight can be well-intentioned or ill-intentioned. Although we cannot control how others behave, we can certainly set boundaries around how we allow ourselves to be treated, and we can even do so with loving kindness.

Be Prepared with What to Say When Someone Comments on Your Weight

Handling comments about your weight requires grace, self-assurance, and an understanding of the underlying dynamics at play. By recognizing the harmful nature of body shaming, setting boundaries, responding assertively, and taking care of your own well-being, you can reclaim your power and cultivate a positive relationship with your body. Remember, your worth is not defined by your weight, and you have the right to prioritize your own self-acceptance and well-being above societal expectations.

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2 thoughts on "What to Say When Someone Comments on Your Weight: 25 Respectful Ways to Set Boundaries"

  1. Wendy Piacenzasays:

    My sister recently told me that it looked like I had gained weight. I actually weigh the same but, I am in my mid sixties now and so I am now carrying more weight in my stomach. I feel very offended and self conscious about this comment as I watch what I eat and I work out 4-5 times a week. My sister as well as my brother, sister in-law, husband daughters, niece and I are all slightly over weight with what I guess to be BMIs of 25-27 but, we are not significantly overweight. We have another niece who is thin but, she also has an eating disorder and has spent weeks in treatment. How do I stop this negative talk? I have told my sister that commenting about my body is off the table. I also told her that I am not interested in any diet that she is on. She said that it wasn’t a big deal and that she doesn’t care if people comment about her weight.

    1. Kari Dahlgrensays:

      Hi Wendy! Oh man, I can relate to you, and I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. In my opinion, and it really is just my personal opinion, I’m keen on creating distance with people who refuse to honor our boundaries. I think it’s an excellent practice that you’ve expressed and communicated where your boundaries are, and it’s absolutely not okay that your family members aren’t listening or honoring the clear boundaries you’ve set. And they’re invalidating your feelings at the same time. Not cool. I don’t know how feasible it would be for you to create more space, but that’s the first thing that came to mind <3

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