It’s just so easy to let conversation casually fall into the realm of body-image and dieting. I admittedly love to talk on the subject, especially if it’s guised under the pseudonym “exercise.” I can talk about exercising all day and how much I enjoy running, but it’s really body-image and how I view myself that I’m probably thinking of.
This is why it’s one of my goals in this season not to mention my body or anyone else’s for a while. I’m sure I’ll fail, but I really would like to make this a way of living. If I focus on the more important things, like personality, interests, family, friends, what we’re learning about work, ourselves, etc, then I can encourage a friend much more than if I mention her body.
I remember back when I actively struggled with my body-image (I still do, but I don’t usually take unhealthy action against body fat anymore, thankfully), if someone commented on how good I looked, it reinforced the idea that I was doing the right thing. I wasn’t giving my body exactly what it needed to function well, but I was getting compliments on how great I looked, so I should obviously keep on with the self-deprivation. I’m sure the people who told me I looked great had no clue what they were encouraging, but it was true for me nonetheless.
I never want to be responsible for encouraging anyone else in that way. Our words and make and break other people. And a topic like body-image and dieting, especially for women, is a drug.
On the flip side, I think if someone is struggling with body-image issues, they feel more comfortable talking about it with a friend who doesn’t always comment on their body but instead focuses on hobbies, interests, and life. That’s the kind of friend I would prefer to be.