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What You May Not Realize About That 'Innocent' Food Comment

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“I’m going to the gym so I can eat this.”

“That person is way too skinny for me.”

“You look so great! Did you lose weight?”

“You need to put some meat on those bones.”

“Can you believe how many calories are in this sandwich?”

“You eat so much and stay so thin. I wish I had your genes.”

These are only a few of the fragments I overhear in conversations. Most of us have heard or said similar phrases before. Some of them may seem like compliments… until we take a second look. It’s a societal norm that throwing around comments and criticism about body weight and shape – especially our own – is fine.

Once you become aware of this, it begins to affect you. It’s why I refuse to sing along when Big Sean raps, “Why your waist anorexic” (no, a waist cannot have a mental illness) or when Meghan Trainor laughs at the “skinny girls who think they’re fat.” It’s why I can’t watch the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show because I know someone is going to joke about eating disorders. It’s why I don’t read the comments on plus-size models’ posts because of the nasty words followers say behind their computer screens. It’s why I keep silent when my friends discuss the calories in their food – not because it brings up my past but because I want them to see how unnecessary it is.

“It’s just a joke,” we have said. And yes – for most of us, commenting about the calorie content of our sandwiches does not stop us from eating them. But I the comment can have lasting effects. Maybe you didn’t order the dish you wanted because your friend joked about it. Maybe you pondered the calories in other foods on your way home. Maybe you wondered if others think you’re too skinny, or too fat, or too out of shape.

Maybe the only way to stop it is to ensure our words are coming from a healthy place before we say them. To say how great the food tastes instead of how many miles we must run because we ate it. To not laugh at body shaming but clearly, confidently say it is wrong.

And then – finally –  society’s body image fixation will no longer have a place at our dinner tables.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Thinkstock photo by Kosamtu

Originally published: March 25, 2017
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