As much as I’m disturbed the same way Lily Collins was, I am not surprised at all by the comments she received. After losing a noticeable amount of weight for a role she plays in a new movie — To The Bone — she faced encounters that solidify society has a long way to go when it comes to beauty standards. The movie is about anorexia, and, Lily Collins, happens to be a survivor of an eating disorder — as am I.
The day I reported to preseason for my sophomore year of college soccer, I remember a comment made to me by an upperclassman that was seemingly complimentary. “Wow, Erin! You lost weight. You look great!”
For three straight months, I had trained my ass off two times a day, while sometimes adding a long walk in between my workouts. I cut out foods that I deemed as bad for me, or unhealthy, and reduced my portion sizes significantly. If my goal was to solely lose weight, then I succeeded. But, if it was to become stronger, faster, better, and healthier–then I failed.
Her comment left a lasting impression on me. Immediately, my interpretation of it was that maybe I didn’t look good before I lost the weight. And, because I was skinnier, I was looked at as more attractive. “So why stop there?” I asked myself.
As I got thinner, other things began to deteriorate. For one, my personality. The once loud, outspoken, happy girl became a quiet, withdrawn, tense athlete. I was glum, and quite bleak. Yet, in the most cheerful manner, she still told me how great I looked.
When complimenting someone on lost weight, there are so many factors that need to be considered. If someone is spiraling out of control, and headed down the path of an eating disorder, like myself, it only provides more motivation to continue the unhealthy behaviors. In addition, it validates that what I did was working–and, it was being noticed. This, in itself, provided me a sense of accomplishment.
Therefore, the definition of beauty needs to encompass several different elements–not just body type. The fact that I appeared pale and depressed was not by any means “beautiful.” But, my peers saw my weight loss and new figure as “looking great.” Optimism, integrity, generosity, loyalty, respectful, positivity, and reliability all exemplify beauty–not my waist size or shape of my body. So, before you say something to someone who has lost weight, think first. Make sure it’s positive and supportive. Finally, if you don’t know the right thing to say… it’s better to say nothing at all!