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How Should I React To Backhanded Compliments About My Weight Loss?

"It's not like I disagree, but it kinda hurts because it makes me think they thought I was ugly before."

Why hello there, cyber dwellers. It's me, Hameda β€” resident witch and your very own personal internet bestie.

Before we dive into this week's DM, let's talk body image. I'm someone who's suffered from poor self-esteem in the looks department for as long as I can remember β€” and it's incredibly hard not to be constantly thinking about how other people perceive you.

I can chalk this up to growing up in a migrant family, as well as just existing on Tumblr in the early 2010s. 

It can feel really shitty to be subjected to unsolicited opinions about your weight and appearance β€” good or bad β€” when you're in a constant battle between accepting and loving yourself, or reverting back to scrolling through "thinspo" and restricting.

I've spent many a time trying to explain to family members that they should not be discussing anyone's weight or eating habits, as it usually causes more harm than good. But unfortunately, said warnings usually fall on deaf ears, because as soon as I lose weight it's "Wow, you're shrinking!", or when I gain, it's "Have you been exercising regularly?"

These micro-aggressions and casual (damaging) comments are something I face every day β€” but I continue to push back, in hopes that at some point my words will stick. And I encourage all of you to do the same, regardless of your body type.

This brings me to our DM, from this beautiful soul who's recently shed a few kilos (or pounds, depending on where you're from).

Firstly I'd like to acknowledge how you're feeling about your weight loss and celebrate that. Making any sort of lifestyle change that makes you feel great is fantastic β€” and I'm so proud of you for following those instincts and doing what's best for you.

The most important person in your world is you, so be sure to take the time to care for yourself and continue to be in touch with your feelings and use them to guide your choices and actions.

Of course, personal growth like this can come with external influence and feedback, which I know can be exciting and motivating β€” i.e. the compliments and attention from others β€” but they can also be a stark reminder of how much people focus on aesthetics when deciding whether or not to be kind to someone, which can be jarring and detrimental.

It's not at all strange to feel uncomfortable with a compliment β€” especially when it's simultaneously putting down a part of you that is still, well, you. And others may not recognise how hurtful their words can be, because they might expect you to feel spiteful towards the unconventional part of yourself too. In this case, we're talking about your grandmother.

The fact that you're able to comprehend that you do feel badly about those words β€” rather than letting them drive you into unhealthy mechanisms to keep them coming β€” is already a win. I'm not sure what your relationship is like with your grandma, but if you're comfortable with it, I do believe you should speak with her one on one about how those comments make you feel β€” especially coming from someone who is supposed to love and cherish you unconditionally.

If you're not comfortable having that conversation, or you don't believe it'll help, it might be beneficial to spend some time reflecting on her limitations. Thankfully, the world is (slowly) becoming more inclusive, and people are recognising that ~the beauty standard~ we've been subjected to in the past has been incredibly harmful to a majority of us β€” skinny or curvy.

It's likely that your grandmother's upbringing and life have conditioned her to believe that the 'compliments' she's been giving you are beneficial and encouraging, rather than destructive. And you may have a hard time convincing her otherwise β€” just as I've had a hard time convincing my own parents of the same thing.

What will benefit you now is to focus entirely on your own perception of yourself. Love and respect the past you, because you wouldn't be where you are now without her determination and support β€” and embrace the present you, because you're both beautiful, capable and most importantly the most valuable people in your life.

If you're into exercises, I can also recommend coming up with compliments for yourself that don't focus on your appearance. Empower yourself with words that speak to your mind and abilities, including your willpower, persistence and determination to feel as good as you possibly can in this life, because that's what matters most.

Doing this will make you feel more secure and powerful in yourself β€” and will make the compliments and comments easier to take and dispose of accordingly, because other peoples opinions don't define you or make you who you are. Only you have that kind of influence.

Alright angels, those are all of my thoughts and words of guidance for now. If you guys have anything you want to add, feel free to share in the comments.

Just don't forget to be kind and considerate when you do.

If you've got a question about a problem, have a thought you can't seem to resolve, or want another opinion on a scenario in your life, you can DM me about it on Instagram (@itshameda) or Twitter (@hamedanafiz) to be featured in the column.

You can also drop in questions and submissions in the comments for consideration β€” if that's something you're comfortable with.

P.S All submissions are for publication on BuzzFeed only. 

The Butterfly National Helpline for eating disorders is 1800 334 673; for 24/7 crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.