How to Respond to Comments About Your Body
When catching up with friends and relatives after a long period of time spent apart, you are bound to notice certain changes in their lives. Particularly for adolescents undergoing puberty, a lot can change over the course of a few months! However, commenting on someone’s physical appearance can be very detrimental to their self-image. These awkward interactions are prevalent during the holiday season, when you are faced with dozens of extended family members who may feel inclined to comment on every new feature that has developed since you visited last winter. Whether these comments are positive or negative, they reinforce the notion that there is an ideal body type, or beauty standard. As the Apricotton team has echoed, all bodies are equal. While these uncomfortable comments may not be ill-intended, they can be impactful, and tricky to tackle on the spot. To help ease discomfort, Apricotton has outlined helpful tips in responding to unsolicited comments about your physical appearance.
How to Respond to Comments About Puberty
The physical and psychological symptoms of puberty are difficult enough to manage without others commenting on your development. Puberty is a nonlinear and unique process that impacts everyone differently. Adolescents mature at very different rates, grow in many different ways and each have individual experiences with self-confidence during this tumultuous period. It is totally normal to feel insecure about how mature you appear next to others your age. Physical symptoms of puberty, such as acne, growth-spurts and breast development are sources of insecurity that friends and family may decide to comment on.
If someone you know comments on your physical maturity, the best approach is to communicate your boundaries. In response to a comment about your breast development, you might choose to say, “I feel uncomfortable when you comment on my body. In the future, I would appreciate it if you would respect this boundary”. By using language such as; “I feel” and “this makes me uncomfortable”, you are creating less of an accusatory tone, and making the other person feel that this boundary has everything to do with your personal comfort, and nothing to do with their wrongdoing. By making this interaction less confrontational, you will feel more confident setting boundaries with others in the future.
How to Respond to Comments about your Body Type
When family, friends or acquaintances make comments about your body type, it is important to recognize when it is valuable to confront these comments, and when it is worthwhile to simply dismiss them. Body image is a very sensitive topic for so many people, and it should be treated with an appropriate level of sensitivity. Because body image is associated with a wide range of emotions, you may be better off pivoting away from this topic of conversation, and checking in with yourself after these difficult interactions.
If someone comments on a change in your body and you feel uncomfortable engaging in this discussion, a great response is using your body language to remove yourself from the conversation. For example, if a relative remarks that you appear “curvier” than when they last saw you, you may choose to find an excuse to leave the conversation, such as “helping your parents in the kitchen” or “asking your grandmother a question”. While it can certainly be beneficial to address the fact that this remark made you uncomfortable, avoidance is a valid and healthy response to comments that may impact your body image.
After these difficult experiences, it is important to check-in with yourself. Did this comment impact your self-confidence? Did this comment hurt your body-image? If so, it is important to speak to someone you trust about how these comments made you feel, and take steps to prioritize your well-being.
How to Respond to Comments About your Personal Style
How we choose to dress, style our hair and do our makeup is an outward expression of our identity that is subject to change throughout our lives. Particularly in our adolescent years, we are constantly changing our self-perception, and personal style that comes along with it. Whether this be experimenting with more feminine, masculine, edgy or hyper-trendy styles, everyone has the right to switch up our fashion sense. However, friends and family are quick to judge these decisions, and may make critical comments that erode our confidence.
Don’t second guess yourself, stand your ground and let them know that these criticisms are not welcome. Most negative comments stem from a place of insecurity, hence it can be effective to ask a question in response, causing the other person to reflect critically on why they made this comment in the first place. For example, if a friend notices, “You have been wearing more baggy clothes recently, I preferred your old sense of style”, a great response would be, “why do you think that it is okay to criticize my sense of style?”. Instead of a snarky defense, there is a good chance that your response causes the other person to look inwards, and reflect on the negative consequence of their comment.
About the Author
Kate is a business student at Western University, who enjoys hiking and canoeing in her free time. As the oldest of three sisters, Kate has a passion for sharing advice, and helping girls build a sense of self-confidence.