National Eating Disorders Association

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Responding to weight comments

My younger sister has begun treatment for ED which is great, but I'm struggling as a sister to help her when people comment on her drastic weight loss. She has admitted that there is a part of her that wants to hear these comments to reassure her weigh loss, but the other part of her is torn apart. Unfortunately we live in a world where people feel it's acceptable to make these comments, and as an older sister I have jumped to her defense in simply saying that the person making the comment "Doesn't need to mention it.", but I don't know if this is the best way of handling it. Should I give her the opportunity to respond? Is there a better response without divulginf her ED? Any advice is appreciated!!

Weight comments.

Hey there.

I wasn't quite sure what you meant here. Were you wanting to know what to say to the people who make those kinds of comments to your sister ? If so, I'm not sure what to tell you. Here in the US it's rude to say those sorts of things, but I know that in other cultures it seems to be common, and a normal thing for people to make comments like that. I suppose you could tell people to mind their own business, but I'm not sure that that would do much to help relive the tension of the situation. And as you said, it's probably not your place to bring up your sister's ED. So it's a difficult matter for sure.

How to help your sister to deal with these kinds of comments is another thing. As you said, on the one hand her ED may be reassured by such comments, but if she is also trying to recover, they aren't helpful. One thing that's true is that people who make these kinds of comments are rude and ignorant, but the fact that the two of you both understand that…It's good that you do, but I'm not sure how much comfort your sister is going to feel, knowing that there are rude people in this world.

So it's a tough situation for sure. Being able to say "I know it must be confusing to hear people make those kinds of comments"…sometimes I think that would be the most comforting thing for her to hear from you ?

Like that someone else understands, you know ?

Anyhow, just some thoughts.

Being an ally is rough

Way to go being your sister’s ally, for one. So many people with EDs struggle to find support within their family, so... I think you’re really awesome no matter what. This is a tough situation because the people saying these things to your sister might be well meaning though let’s be real, their comments are rude. Unfortunately, commentary on weight has been in our culture’s crosshairs for a long time. If she isn’t getting a message about weight personally from someone, it will come through media and other sources. So... it’s impossible to protect her from it. She may need to be the one to shut down the comments with you at her side. That puts the power in her camp, but you can still support her as she navigates dealing with this part of our culture (which we can only hope continues to change for the better). Thanks for being an ally, you are making the world better for your sister and so many others out there!