April 5, 2023

“I Don’t have an Eating Disorder, but if I Did…”—Why it’s Not Okay to Comment on Other People’s Bodies.


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When I first started my online coaching business seven years ago, my number one fear was that people would leave me mean comments about my body.

I was so terrified to be seen I couldn’t even post pictures of myself, and it took many more months to show myself on video.

Over the years, I’ve worked with my tools to help me show up online confidently and consistently. Hundreds of videos and thousands of pictures later and I’ve only received a handful of unsolicited, rude, and unhelpful comments on my posts.

Here’s my take on why I think it’s never appropriate to leave negative comments for strangers online:

1. We can’t assume we know what’s going on with someone or their body. Personally, I have a physical illness, a muscle disorder, that changes the shape and weight of my body. Someone telling me that I look “disgusting” or “that’s not beauty” or even “that’s disturbing” is like saying those things to someone who’s fighting cancer. It’s messed up.

2. We really should stop vilifying eating disorders. Crazy, I know, because they can be scary and dangerous. But within the Internal Family System (IFS), a therapeutic modality in which I have hundreds of hours of training and bring to my coaching, there are “no bad parts.” This includes the parts that society doesn’t approve of: our addictive parts, suicidal parts, and eating disordered parts. The reason the theory states, “There are no bad parts,” is because every single part is protecting us from something, and those parts truly believe there is no other way.

3. Eating disorders are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as a mental health disorder. So every time someone is giving another human a hard time about “looking like” they have an eating disorder, they’re potentially bullying them for having a mental health disorder. Enough said.

4. It’s more about them than about me. It’s more about society than about me. It’s more about the way we were brought up: probably thinking we’re not good enough/too fat/not fit/our boobs are too small than it is about me. Before posting that comment or sending that message, maybe take a look in the mirror and see what’s triggering you about yourself. Take a breath and get support for that.

There’s never a good reason to shame someone else’s body, how they’re showing up, or what they’re wearing online. If something is triggering: unfollow the person and work on your own stuff. Because it is your stuff.

As an online business owner, I’ve received comments over the years, but honestly a lot fewer than I thought I would. People assume I have an eating disorder, but what gives anyone the right to reach out to a stranger and comment negatively on their body? What gives anyone the right to tell another human there’s something wrong with them, they’re not perfect, or they’re not looking “good enough” (whatever that means)?

I know it’s hard to feel comfortable in our own bodies with all the societal pressures, the patriarchy, and the unrealistic standards of beauty. This is precisely why I show up and speak out about it.

Interestingly enough, none of the negative comments I have received were from a man. We can do better as women to support other women in online spaces. And we need to do better in supporting other women and accepting bodies of all shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities.

The next time we’re feeling triggered by another’s body or want to comment, what if instead we leave an encouraging comment for someone who is showing up in a brave way (a.k.a showing up at all, in any way)?

It’s hard enough being in a female body in this world.

It’s hard enough to show up and put yourself out there.

It’s hard enough to be seen.

We don’t need to judge others, leave negative comments, or make others feel bad.

We never truly know what someone else is going through. We could all use a little more compassion and learn to speak a little more kindly…or not speak at all.

Leave a kind comment today and make someone’s day.


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