Have you lost weight? It’s a common question I’ve asked several times. I see someone I haven’t seen in a while, they look great, so I comment. It’s a bad habit. I’m trying to break it.
I have an issue with this question because it implies that someone had weight to lose. It’s like you’ve been judging them previously thinking that they should really shape things up. When I catch myself asking those four little words, I grimace. While I wholeheartedly mean it as a compliment, I know it can feel backhanded because I’ve felt its sting myself.
But why should a compliment seem like an insult? I think it’s because we’re identifying the wrong reason why some looks great and are therefore using the wrong language.
The truth is, it’s unlikely that anyone who tells you how great you look is saying so because they previously thought the opposite. They’re likely noticing a particular brightness about you. When you feel good about yourself, there’s an aura that people catch on to. They notice a little bounce in your step or a glimmer in your eye. After all, don’t most people agree that the sexiest quality in a potential partner is their humble self-confidence? When someone is genuinely happy about themselves it’s noticeable. They generate an energy that others want to absorb.
For a person that doesn’t swing much more than plus or minus five pounds at any given time, I feel like I get asked a lot if I’ve lost weight. It’s always intriguing to me that the timing of the question generally coincides with periods when I’ve been feeling particularly good about my self-care, my productiveness and other life tasks. If I’m in a slump, I never get asked if I’ve dropped weight.
You know how you notice a change in a person’s behavior when they are falling in love? It’s like that. Except instead of falling in love with another, you’re falling in love with yourself. What a wonderful thing! It makes me giddy just writing about it. It’s called positive self image. It has nothing to do with your outward appearance and everything to do with how you feel inside.
Whether it’s a physical feeling in our body or a conceptual feeling about life, our internalization of our feelings affects how we appear to others and to ourselves. If you have unhealthy habits that affect you physically or if you tend to talk down to yourself, you won’t like what you see in the mirror. But if you accept yourself for all that you are and all that you are not and you believe that you are doing your best, you will instantly be more positive about your reflection.
Just as we would do with a significant other, to truly fall in love with ourselves we must accept ourselves, flaws and all. You don’t have to be perfect to enjoy a positive self image.
So here’s my proposal: When you see someone and think “Wow, they look great!” Instead of telling them that they look great, tell them that they look like they feel great. Likewise, the next time someone asks you if you’ve lost weight, congratulate yourself on showing self-love. That’s what they’re really complimenting.
What’s on the inside trumps what’s on the outside. Shift your focus to love and acceptance. Fill yourself to the brim and let it spill out to all of those around you. Self-love is a true one-size-fits-all. It looks good on everybody.