What is it about some people that allows them to say whatever they want without concern?
I think sometimes it's discomfort. Discomfort and difficult with being in that discomfort.
I have some beautiful friends who recently gave birth to adorable babies. During their pregnancies, they heard over and over,"you're so big!" One of them said she doesn't think much of it, because she knows people say things like that due to a shortage of anything else to talk about. Rather than find comfort in silence, some people must say something, even if it is a rude something.
Some of my teenage girls have no shame in making comments about my body. "You have a big butt." "You're skinny." "You have child-bearing hips." It is a strange feeling when someone assesses your body like it is a car or a toy..or some other object. But I have since realized that many of my girls are still learning to be comfortable in their own bodies. They're not quite there yet (some days, I'm not quite there, but I'm there a lot more days than I was as a teenager!), so they're looking around, comparing, taking notes, making comments.
I have family members who also make comments about my body. Some of them insist that I have lost weight every time I see them. I can assure you that this is not possible, but those same words continue to come out of their mouths with every reunion. It is possible that they are not quite sure what to say to me after months apart and one big bear hug. Maybe they don't know what to ask. Maybe it is easier to open a conversation with a comment about appearance because it is right on the surface, calling out, "here's something easy to talk about. Pick me!"
I've done it. I compliment my girls on their hair cuts, shoes, and shirts. I try to do it especially when those choices seem to reflect what they really like because I think self-reflection in the form of fabric and buttons and necklaces is the best kind of fashion there is- but I still do it. I know it's easier to start with, "you look great in that tank top!" than dive right into the juicy stuff. And let's face it- everyone could use a compliment or two. Even about appearances.
Years ago, when undergoing an involuntary body assessment, I took comments to heart. (I have received comments about my body from the time I was 10. Anyone else?) I dieted in the name of finding approval and acceptance. Now, I'm not sure I get fewer body-assessing comments than I did even in junior high. In fact, I think I might get more. But unlike then, I feel beautiful. When I was in junior high, I was told I'd be beautiful when I grew up (not then, mind you. When I grew up.) by two different women on two different occasions. And you know? Maybe they were right. Maybe I just needed some time to get comfy in my own skin.
I now know that those comments I receive(d) have very little to do with me. They mostly have to do with the insecurities of the person who is saying them. That knowledge gives me a little more room for understanding, grace, and love...even for those who have no problem analyzing my body right in front of me.