Until recently, if I saw someone who had lost excess weight, without hesitation I'd say something positive like, "Wow, you look terrific!"
For me, it was not primarily about aesthetics. When an overweight friend lost weight, I'd say, "You know I've always seen the 'you' that is inside. But I'm happy about your decreased health risks (e.g., diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and so on)."
Especially if you don't know why or how someone lost weight, praise can be harmful. Suppose weight loss is an unintended consequence of adversity, such as illness or grief. "The smiles and effusive praise...[are] in direct opposition to the pain that caused the weight loss to begin with."
If an eating disorder and/or an unhealthy body image is at play, "Complimenting someone...only adds fuel to the fire."
Repeated praise after weight loss can instill a sense they were not worthy, mature or acceptable before. "We have to evaluate whether we're making statements to someone that they've never heard from us before, statements that suggest the weight loss suddenly makes them a better, more legitimate person."
Is blogger Yasher Ali suggesting we stop all praise? No.
"We should evaluate what and how we are praising someone's weight loss before we actually say anything.... Weight loss is not one-size-fits-all and our reactions shouldn't be, either."
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