Weight gain or loss tends to be one of the first things we notice about a person. And although you might be tempted to compliment someone on their weight loss, it can be a touchy subject. You wouldn’t point out someone’s weight gain, right? So the same should go for weight loss. While someone’s weight loss may result from eating healthy and working out, it can also be from a myriad of other reasons that that person might not want to talk about. So before you go to compliment someone on their weight loss, here’s why you just shouldn’t:
They could have an eating disorder
There’s no way you could’ve known this before, but save yourself the embarrassment and them the trauma by just not bringing up their weight loss. It doesn’t matter how old or young the person is, eating disorders, such as bulimia or anorexia, can happen to anyone. And complimenting someone’s weight loss when it’s from an eating disorder is problematic as you are (unintentionally, of course) praising them for their unhealthy behavior.
It can come off as a backhanded compliment
Even though this might not be your intention, asking someone to lose weight can come off as a backhanded compliment. It implies that the person was heavier before, and can cause them to feel insecure about how they looked in the past.
They might be sick
There are endless reasons why someone might be losing weight, and one of those is an illness. Weight loss can be a sign of cancer, anxiety, and various other illnesses, all difficult subjects to talk about. You may think you are helping boost their confidence, but in reality, if someone is sick, they probably don’t want their weight loss pointed out.
They could have a traumatic background
Some people grew up with parents or loved ones continually telling them they needed to lose weight. Some people suffered childhood trauma with sexual or physical abuse, which made them dislike their bodies. Complimenting someone on their weight loss may seem simple and harmless, but it could bring up difficult memories and trauma for someone.
Now, this shouldn’t stop you from complimenting someone who looks happy and healthy. Just instead of asking, “Have you lost weight?!” say something else. “You look so happy!” or “I love your energy today!” are better options. Don’t take any chances, just don’t compliment someone on their weight loss.