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Jonah Hill reminds why body, weight loss comments need to end: experts

Whether in person or online, praising someone for their weight loss or curves can seem like an innocent – and even complimentary – comment. But experts say we can all learn something from Jonah Hill’s recent post about body comments: stop making them. In a post to Instagram Thursday, Hill asked his three million followers to refrain from making comments about his body, whether they be positive or negative. “I know you mean well, but I kindly ask that you do not comment on my body (heart emoji), good or bad I want to politely let you know it’s not helpful and doesn’t feel good. Much respect,” he wrote.

While it’s easy to understand how negative comments about someone’s body can be hurtful, praise can also be harmful, explains Chelsea Kronengold, communications lead at the National Eating Disorders Association. “It validates or emphasizes that our worth is tied to our appearance, and that’s not true,” she says. Dr. Elizabeth Wassenaar, regional medical director at the Eating Recovery Center, agrees that comments about how somebody’s body looks or how someone’s weight changes, even if it feels like a positive comment, is “not something welcome.” “Commenting on someone’s body size and shape and appearance in the world reinforces the message that people are only as much as their body and are being judged by how they appear,” she says.

Jonah Hill

It ‘doesn’t feel good’:Jonah Hill asks fans, and followers, to ‘not comment on my body.’ Another reason to refrain from these comments is that you “don’t know what anyone’s going through,” Kronengold adds. “Maybe they’re struggling with an eating disorder, maybe they’re going through something in their life that has impacted their relationship with food, or maybe they have an illness.” The Mayo Clinic lists many potential causes for weight loss, including mental health challenges like depression and physical illnesses like cancer and Crohn’s disease. “(That’s) why commenting on people’s bodies and weights is completely inappropriate – you don’t even know the intention behind it and what else is going on,” she adds.

For someone with a history of body image issues or eating disorders, body compliments can be a triggering experience that reinforces disordered eating and disordered body images, Wassenaar explains. “It can trigger those old eating disordered thoughts that you have to have your body look a certain way to be acceptable and that your self-worth is tied into how your body looks and how people perceive your body,” she says. But these comments don’t only affect people with a history of disordered eating. It impacts “every single person that lives in a body,” Wassenaar says.

“These comments about how your body is acceptable or unacceptable, it reinforces again that you are not worth more than your body… and that you have to present yourself a certain way for the world to find you acceptable,” she explains. “It reinforces that sort of superficial, body-focused idea that we know is so painful and harmful for everyone because we are so much more than this vessel that carries us.”

Jonah Hill is ‘normalizing this conversation.’ Kronengold explained the significance of Hill, a male celebrity and comedian, sharing his boundaries. “Even though he’s a man and most people think of body image issues to be women’s problems, and even though he’s a celebrity, it still hurts, and it’s still unnecessary to make comments about somebody’s weight or appearance, no matter what they look like.”

Men can have body image issues, but they often feel it’s not OK or “not masculine” to speak up about it. Males represent 25% of individuals with anorexia nervosa, according to data shared on National Eating Disorders Association’s website. “They are at a higher risk of dying, ipartlybecause they are often diagnosed later since many people assume males don’t have eating disorders,” the site reads.

“That’s why it’s so important that he’s normalizing this conversation,” Kronengold adds. Wassenaar adds, “It’s so important for our society that we check ourselves around, making comments on people’s bodies. For those of us that are adults, but also for children and adolescents raised in a very social media-saturated environment – (it’s important), they’re given the tools to recognize that they are more than just their external appearance.”

Instead of complimenting someone’s physique, Kronengold suggests focusing on somebody’s character, values, and what they contribute to the world. That way, we can retreat from the societal message that you must “look a certain way to be worthy.” “Instead, we’re focusing on people being worthy because of who they are, not what they look like,” she explains. Wassenaar suggests replacing appearance words with action words. For example, “You look so happy when you’re doing that,” “I wish I could be there with you, joining you in that activity,” or “Gosh, it looks like the sun is warm, and you’re enjoying it.”

By making this shift, you’re moving from a “judgment, external sort of (comment)… to engaging with them in the environment that they’re in and making a connection around wanting to be in relationship with them,” she explains. “It doesn’t have a thing to do with whether their body is acceptable to society.” Suppose you or someone you know struggles with body image or eating concerns. In that case, the National Eating Disorders Association’s toll-free and confidential helpline is available by phone or text at 1-800-931-2237 or by click-to-chat message at  nationaleatingdisorders.org/helpline. For 24/7 crises, text “NEDA” to 741-741.

Gemma Broadhurst
I am a writer by profession, and I love to write in my spare time. I am one of the most experienced writer for newspriest. I always make sure that whatever is written on my blog is 100% genuine and true. I am a University of Florida graduate pursuing a Master's degree.

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