I don’t usually respond to anonymous messages such as this as I’m never really sure what the intent is. But as I’ve seen many others also receiving similar messages or comments upon their weight and appearance, I am this one time only going to respond and address why such messages are unhelpful.
Firstly, the reason I personally choose not to respond is that I have Anorexia. Whilst this may mean that I’m not able to view my weight or appearance in a completely objective way, I am not completely ignorant of the fact that as a result of my illness, I am underweight. I’m reminded of this frequently in many different ways, but most pertinently, by the professionals treating me and monitoring my state of health. It’s not something I really need to be told by an anonymous stranger online.
Secondly, being told or asked to put on weight by anyone, let alone someone who has no connection to me in real life isn’t going to suddenly change this situation. This is because my current weight is but one of the physical symptoms of the Mental Illness from which I suffer. It’s not a choice. It’s something I can, and have, and continue to choose to fight to recover from - and wholeheartedly believe I eventually will - but it’s not something I can choose to change directly or immediately.
Recovery from Anorexia is a complex pathway to restore balance and health in mind, body and soul. It’s a different and non-linear journey for every person. I personally believe that it’s important not to base recovery too heavily on the physical symptoms and measures, rather I believe the most important focus needs to be on healing the emotional and Psychological causes, which will in turn support changes in behaviours that lead to restoration of physical health. In my opinion and experience, this is what will result in long-lasting and full recovery, and the least chance of relapse.
For most people suffering or recovering from an Eating Disorder, comments on weight - whether they be positive or negative; that someone is too thin, fat, looks healthy or anything in between - will most often have a negative impact. This is because ED’s cause a distortion in thoughts surrounding weight and appearance, and almost any comment can be manipulated to reinforce the ED mindset. My suggestion is always to express your care with empathy, and concern or interest in the whole person, not just how they appear. Ask them how they’re feeling; many people with ED’s have learned to express their emotions through their body because they’ve come to believe that how they look is more valued than how they feel.
I have in the past and again recently seen suggestions that people suffering from ED’s should not post photo’s of themselves, or if they do, others should be free to respond. I wholeheartedly believe that no-one should feel they have to censor themselves in this way because they happen to be suffering from a physically visible illness. This is body shaming, and that’s never ok. For someone suffering an ED, this is an extremely damaging message. I do understand the concern when people choose to post graphic photo’s clearly aimed at depicting how ill they are, but when this is the response to normal, unstaged photo’s which are about sharing a part of your life, not your weight, it’s totally inappropriate.
Suffering from an ED does not make you any less a human being with the same rights as any other human being (despite the fact your ED may tell you this is true.) No-one should be made to feel that they have to hide their illness or hide themselves because of it. Nor should choosing to share photo’s mean that anyone has the right to pass judgement or make insensitive comments. Naturally there is no way to stop this, all we can do is ask that people act with empathy and kindness, and consider why they feel the need to comment - is it out of a desire to help, or is it out of judgement. If you genuinely want to help, educate yourself, I guarantee you that their are countless other ways in which you can express yourself that will help and not harm.
I realise this is a very long response to a very short question. Or comment, rather. I’m not going to apologise, because unfortunately I see on a daily basis reasons why these things need to be said. But I do want to restate this is in response to all of the messages and comments I see in relation to Eating Disorders, not just your choice to comment upon my appearance.
I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt that your message was out of care or concern and I thank you for that. I hope this helps you understand a little further why sending a message such as this is unhelpful, and to some, could actually be quite harmful, although that may not be the intent.