Society Series: To compliment or not compliment?

That is a tough question!


Recently I whined opened up to Twitter about getting my first real compliment on my weight loss from a friend I hadn’t seen in a couple of months.  I had been bummed when I saw her (and other friends I see even more infrequently) at Christmas/New Year’s and nobody commented on the weight I had already lost at that point.  I assumed since I had already lost ~30lbs when I saw everyone at the holidays, I’d get compliments left and right.


No dice.


So, I thought, maybe those 30lbs were just a drop in the bucket?  Maybe it’s not as huge a difference to others as it is to myself?  I got over it and went about my business.


Nearly two months and 20 more pounds went by, and I finally got my first compliment on Sunday night (aside from my parents).  Now here’s where Kelsey’s Society Series post - “When they STOP mentioning it” – comes into play.  Why was I so bothered that nobody had said anything?  Some people on Twitter said “maybe people see you so often that they can’t tell small differences every time they see you” – but I’m talking about people I hadn’t seen in months.  I’m losing this weight for myself and my own health, but there’s some vanity there, too; I can’t escape it.  I want some validation that I’m making myself look better on the outside while improving my longevity.  However, I’m realizing that weight is SUCH a taboo topic that even those who you feel close to are hesitant to mention it.  It’s been THE foremost topic in my brain for 20 years, so I kinda want everyone to pat me on the back when I lose it, and shut the hell up when I gain it.


Compliments can totally backfire, though, and make even the best intentions look horrible.  Saying “wow, you look so amazing now!” could imply you looked like crap before.  “What are you doing? You look great!” might give way to a less-than-savory answer (“it’s a tapeworm, man…thanks for mentioning it”).  Unless they’re your best friend or parent, some people are just too afraid of somehow hurting your feelings in a backhanded way, and I need to accept that.  Just because they don’t compliment you doesn’t mean they don’t notice.  As someone who has wrestled with weight her whole life, I know how much I appreciate compliments, and I like to address others’ hard work when I notice their weight loss.  However, someone who hasn’t seen the world through fat-colored glasses might not know how to approach it.  [And maybe others who are losing weight are embarrassed and don’t want comments – are you that way?]


The funny thing is, the day after Kaycee complimented me, our neighbor gave me a compliment by way of my mom (while I was out at a new Zumba class – go me!).  She admitted she didn’t feel comfortable saying something to me, and I (am beginning to) understand that. 


Again, I refer to Kelsey’s post: since I’ve gotten both of those compliments, I’ve been dressing a little snazzier. 

I’ve been checking myself out a little bit more. 

I’ve been carrying myself differently. 


I don’t want to be THAT GIRL who thrives on compliments and validation, because then the motivation becomes external and the reasons for losing weight are wrong.  However, like sprinkles on a cupcake (mmm….cuuuupcaaaaake), compliments add a little something extra to an already sweet victory. 


Do you have a policy on complimenting others’ weight loss?  How do you feel when people say (hopefully positive) things about your weight loss?  Do you agree with me that weight is too taboo to comment on unless you’re really close to the person?


  1. I try not to comment on other people's weight loss! I thought it was the right thing to do. Although after reading this, I guess not!

    I usually avoid it because of the reason you stated. It's like saying, "gosh you look great. certainly better than you did a few months ago." I just try to avoid the situation all together!

  2. Uggghhh I keep going back and forth - I'm not sure if I should've said so wholeheartedly "yeah! comment away!" because sometimes it can be a bit embarrassing. Like I said, I think WEIGHT has been such a huge part of who I am that all social rules have gone out the window. To me, weight is the biggest (pun totally intended) thing about me. It's the first thing I notice about myself, and I assume it's the first thing everyone else notices too.

    Maybe I should save all this for a couch session. ;)

  3. I always compliment people on their weight loss, unless they have had a sickness leading to the loss. Then I just dont mention it. I would want people to compliment me too!

  4. I usually compliment people on their weight loss, but in a "have you lost weight? You look great!" way rather than a "wow, you've lost so much weight" way, as I worry the latter might come across a bit like saying the person used to be fat.
    I usually love a good weight loss compliment, but I have a friend coming to stay this weekend, and I can't decide if I want her to notice or not. On the one hand, I would like some recognition that I'm not as big as I used to be, but on the other hand I really wanted a 'big reveal' with my friends in the summer, when I could show off my 35/40lb lighter body to reactions of amazement and compliments a-plenty (that's the way it goes in my head anyway. Also in this fantasy I've managed to miraculously grow my hair 8 inches, get a whole wardrobe full of fashionable clothes and swap my face with Lauren Conrad's. I'm sure she won't mind.)

  5. I don't really comment on people's weight loss unless they are celebrating a goal of some sort. Does that make sense?

    Unless it is someone close to me where I know they won't take my compliment the wrong way I usually don't say anything.

    I love compliments! Even the ones where they sound kinda snarky. Like one of my friends saw my new pic I posted on my blog and she said "Wow, you look didn't look like that when I saw you a week ago" I was just like um thanks..

  6. remember when i said that i was writing my society series post?

    well i still am.
    and this fits in SO WELL with what im saying :)

    its taking a bit of time, but i promise you it will be awesomeness ;) xoxoxo

  7. @CJ - It definitely helps to know if the person was trying to lose weight in the first place before saying something - a luxury we don't always have!

    @Beth - Yeah, a blanket "wow, you look good!" usually says enough - I got one of those today, like an "I'm implying you look good for weight reasons, but I'm not coming out and saying it and chancing embarrassing you or myself" Haha, I know what you mean about a BIG REVEAL...sometimes when I'm losing weight, I look toward a big event in the future, like a wedding or a party, to reveal myself (that sounds dirty), and it's a little bit of a letdown when I have to "cheapen it" by seeing people beforehand. I hope your friend says something - you deserve to have some affirmation that what you're doing is working. Plus, there are still other friends you can "reveal yourself" to later in the summer!

    @Randi - it does make sense, like if you know someone just made lifetime at Weight Watchers or that they just lost 50lbs or something, not if there's not *something measurable* to "celebrate." LOL about that backhanded compliment...I'll take ones like that from my friends and say "gee, thanks" and usually they're like "oh you know what I meant," but from a mere acquaintance, I might take it the wrong way.

    @Heather - Remember when I said I was done with the first draft of that guest post and all I had to do was edit it the next day and send it along? Well I haven't. I promise YOU it'll be awesome! Can't wait to read your SS post!! :D

  8. I've thought about this topic myself a lot lately. I gained about 25 pounds over the past year and was really upset over it. It's not the worst thing in the world, I'm 5'11 and it spreads fairly, yes, not the end of the world at all, but I hated it and am just now working it all off. I've had some people close to me tell me that I look the same. I KNOW they are trying to be sweet, but it drives me crazy. Like, did I never look thin???!!! But at the end of the day, I try to take what others say with a grain of salt as much as possible. They love me. End of story :)

  9. @Cat - you're right; sometimes people might not know what to say, and in the end, I'm doing it for myself anyway, so I should take others' words with a grain of salt! Very wise words, indeed. :D


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