Ariana Grande has politely asked everyone to stop commenting on her body — and her request started an important discussion: when is it OK to comment on another person’s appearance, if it’s OK at all?
Like Grande, several celebrities — such as Selena Gomez and Jonah Hill — have opened up to fans about their weight after getting bombarded with online criticism concerning the shape of their body.
“The body that you’ve been comparing my current body to was the unhealthiest version of my body,” she said. “I was on a lot of antidepressants and drinking on them and eating poorly and at the lowest point of my life when I looked the way you consider my healthy, but that in fact wasn’t my healthy.”
The singer urged fans to avoid making comments about other people’s appearances even if they are “well-intentioned” and reminded her fans that there are “different ways to look healthy and beautiful.”
“We should be gentler and less comfortable commenting on people’s bodies no matter what,” she said. “You never know what someone is going through, so even if you are coming from a loving place and a caring place, that person probably is working on it or has a support system that they are working on it with, and you never know, so be gentle with each other and with yourselves”
Celebrities are often scrutinized for their appearance
Living in the spotlight comes with a downside. Celebrities are often pressed to address physical changes after suffering through public scrutiny over how their body looks (or doesn’t look). They’re often called out for either shedding weight or putting “too much” on.
In January, Gomez addressed bodyshamers who claimed she was “too fat.” Gomez called her critics out in an Instagram livestream.
“I’m a little bit big right now because I enjoyed myself during the holidays,” Gomez said.
“I mean, right?” Gomez added before laughing. “But we don’t care.”
After losing weight, Hill, the Oscar-nominated actor, asked fans to stop making comments on his body. “I know you mean well, but I kindly ask that you not comment on my body,” Hill wrote on Instagram, per NBC News.
Adele also addressed the public about her body after shedding a significant amount of weight — several of the singer’s fans said they felt “very betrayed” by her body transformation.
“I felt terrible for some people that felt like other people’s comments meant that they weren’t looking good or that they weren’t beautiful,” she said, per Newsweek. “There were some other people who felt very betrayed by me, being like, ‘Oh, she’s given into the pressure of it.’”
The Grammy award-winning artist told British Vogue that her weight loss was “for myself and not anyone else.”
“People have been talking about my body for 12 years. They used to talk about it before I lost weight,” Adele told British Vogue. “You don’t need to be overweight to be body positive, you can be any shape or size.”
Dozens of other celebrities — such as Rebel Wilson and Chris Pratt — have also come forward asking the public not to make comments about the way their bodies look. This is not a problem exclusive to Hollywood, as nonfamous people also suffer from commentary on their appearance.
We are not entitled to comment on other people’s bodies
Other people’s bodies are not your business — celebrity or not. Whether your commentary is positive or negative, when it comes to another’s body shape, it is best to keep your opinions to yourself, experts claim.
“Making comments about physical appearance has been so normalized in our society that it is hard for some to understand why this could be problematic and should be avoided,” says Elizabet Altunkara, director of education at the National Eating Disorders Association, per NBC News.
“We cannot know what a person is going through physically or mentally by just looking at them. Commenting on someone’s physical appearance can perpetuate issues, such as negative body image, low self-esteem, body dissatisfaction, that the person might already be dealing with,” Altunkara added.
“Hearing people commenting about celebrities’ continues to send out the message that it is OK to talk about and make assumptions based on physical appearance,” Altunkara said. “This can be especially harmful for those who may struggle with body image or disordered eating as this highlights the cultural norms that overvalue appearance, which we know is a risk factor in the development of eating disorders.”
Give compliments that don’t have to do with looks
Focusing on how someone looks through compliments or other commentary perpetuates the idea that human value is rooted in appearance.
About half (51%) of Americans adults feel pressured to have a certain body type, according to a poll from YouGov. Body dissatisfaction is associated with disordered eating, poor mental health and more.
“Higher body dissatisfaction is associated with a poorer quality of life, psychological distress and the risk of unhealthy eating behaviors and eating disorders,” reports the Mental Health Foundation.
Giving people compliments that are not linked to how they look can help build the truth that our worth has nothing to do with what we look like.
Here are some compliment that are not appearance-based:
I love your sense of humor. You always make me laugh!
You are a great friend. I can trust you with anything.
I admire how hard you work. You are accomplishing great things.
You are the best listener. I appreciate the advice you give me.
Can you teach me how to do (any skill)? You are so talented!
I appreciate your honesty, I can always count on you to be sincere with me.
I’m so glad we are friends. I always have a great time with you.
I’m glad you are in my life, I feel lucky to know you.
You have such positive energy. You always lift my spirits.
Thank you for being so reliable. I know I can always count on you.