Topic Tuesday: Compliments
“You Look Good” (By: Kristin F.)
Typically, when you tell someone they look good, you think you are paying them a compliment. And you are. But for some people, you are triggering without realizing it. For those who have faced an eating disorder before, you are accidentally feeding ED, who takes the ‘you look good’ and translates it into ‘you are skinny, you better stay this way.’ It is a vicious cycle that we can face in society frequently today. When someone says you look good, it isn’t necessarily about the inner being, but about the physical aspects they see. You tell someone you like their clothes, their haircut, their makeup. All superficial. Yes, I like clothes, yes I like a good haircut, yes I like makeup. But do I like this being the only thing people see when they look at me? No.
This happened to me the other day when I went into one of my favorite stores. The salesperson said ‘you look great, what have you been doing?!’ To my ears, I heard ‘you are in shape! you will look good in their clothes! you are a perfect size!’ DANGER. RED FLAG. That is ED speaking, translating everyday, normal language into triggers. This is his specialty – he likes to make you susceptible to his grip in every circumstance possible. So I thanked her, and recognized the trigger, putting it in my back pocket to analyze later. Which I did, and when I did, I realized that I am so easily thrown back into my convoluted thinking about physical appearance. Maybe she was saying I look happy? Which I am. Maybe she was just using a sales tactic and wasn’t implying anything? Most likely. It’s important to recognize that recovery isn’t simply over when you stop the action that was an extension of your sickness. You may be in recovery your whole life…and that is OK!! It is about trying to rewire yourself, the ways in which we are broken. Or.. maybe it isn’t even about rewiring, maybe it is about wiring in a different direction. Actively choosing to go AWAY from the direction that pulls us down so easily.
This situation made me think twice about compliments and how we give them. It is so easy to compliment someone on their appearance but not so easy to compliment on the soul. We notice the outside more frequently than the inside. And it is easy to disguise our outsides…but our insides are our insides. No disguise possible; raw, pure, whole. It makes you think about how we started looking at instead of looking IN. Compliment on the heart, tell someone you love their energy, their contagious smile, their wit, their humor, their compassion. Remind yourself what you appreciate that is unique to you. Someone once quoted to me ‘I’ll see it when I believe it.’ And isn’t this so true? We see what we believe. If we believe the world is solely superficial, made up of a whole lot of looks and no hearts, then we are missing out on true life. But if we believe we are all beautiful, that beauty is physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental, then we are recognizing the full potential of our WHOLE selves. The reality of the way we were made to be.
About the Author
Kristin is originally from North Carolina but has lived in Nashville, TN for the past three years and now calls it home. Upon going to college in Virginia, Kristin fell victim to bulimia and struggled with her eating disorder for six years. Two years ago, she confessed to her family (who were unaware of her struggle), that she needed help. Through outpatient treatment, under the care of her beloved therapist, caring nutritionist, compassionate doctor, and countless support groups through EDCT, Kristin was able to overcome her bulimia and find peace in her recovery. The openness and vulnerability that Kristin experienced within the support groups allowed her to relate with others and overcome the intense loneliness that was a result of her eating disorder. She is extremely sensitive to these issues, as she knows ED is always lingering around the corner. She hopes that her story of finally standing up to ED can help others. Lastly, Kristin has found that animals are a wonderful vehicle in recovery, as they allow for unconditional love, no matter your size. She recently adopted a pug named Rora who brings her great joy.