I can spot a bully’s backhanded compliment from a mile away.
You know those people who say 'Oh I’m not walking down the street next to you because you look so good that you make me look bad.' Or 'I know you won’t eat that, but I like to enjoy myself.'
There are people in my life like this and I find it extremely insulting and difficult to manage. The insults tend to happen in a group of people making it even worse.
To me, this sort of bullying and judgement is the inverse of hurting someone who’s overweight. I hate the constant commenting on my appearance, even though they somehow think it’s a compliment.
They’re trying to make me look like an obsessive maniac who has no fun compared to them. They are not hung up on their weight, so claim to enjoy their life and have fun.
Or when something I don’t eat appears at the table, they’ll say 'Surely one won’t hurt.' It’s the pressure to conform to a way of living that has no interest for me.
I have another friend who’s thin and always has been. She’s experienced so much bullying since she was a child, feeling extremely self-conscious when people say 'You’re so thin.'
Why do we need to even comment on each other’s bodies? It’s really no-one’s business. Regardless of your size, it’s insulting and it’s wrong, especially when it becomes an intrusive comment on some perceived mental health problem. I’d never consider commenting on someone else’s mentality or body, especially in social situations.
There’s a real danger that people start tapping into the body image debate by judging each other, inadvertently insulting friends and losing sight of the fact that health should be paramount, not body image.
While I applaud body positivity and can see the impact of awarding Taryn Brumfitt as Australian of the Year for 2023. But please, can we think less of appearance and image and more of health.
If you value something, you look after it. I have great respect for my body and look after it the best way I know how and I can guarantee you that if we tested the blood of someone who was obese, there would be any number of health issues either showing or brewing.
It’s not good for anyone’s mental health for your body to be judged but it doesn’t mean you ever treat it disrespectfully either.