Emmy over at frozen.oranges posted yesterday about a conversation she had with a friend. While talking about her efforts to gain weight, he interjected that he'd noticed she'd put on a few pounds. She took it positively. I admire her for that, because I have trouble doing the same.
Comments like this are tricky. Weight is widely accepted as a topic of conversation: people talk about their weight, celebrities' weights, that friend who's really let herself go, you know. Eating disorders are damn awkward. People don't know what to say, and in those situations it's not unexpected to flub. When someone starts to gain, people want to let her/him know that they see the hard work she/he has done. The intention is to compliment the person and recognize the effort.
However, even the best of intentions can fall flat. As I've said, recovery is a process - there are good days and bad days. A comment at the wrong time can send someone into a tailspin. Are they saying I'm fat? Are they looking at what I'm eating? What do they mean by that? Well, just to be safe, I shouldn't eat that cookie. The commenter, of course, did not mean to elicit that response.
I understand the impulse to tell someone, hey, you're not skeletal anymore, you look better. At the same time, I urge caution. In Emmy's case, weight gain was already the topic of conversation. If the person in question starts talking about his or her weight, let them talk - gauge how they feel about it. If they seem positive, then I think it's okay to comment. If they seem ambivalent or distressed, it might be best to say, "I know you're working hard," or "hang in there, it's tough but so are you." I'd advise against just blurting something out upon seeing someone.
Of course, there are exceptions to this. For example, my mom, my sisters, Jim, and my roommates can talk about my weight without me bringing it up. They know me really well and have been essential to my recovery. And since I usually talk about my weight gain positively, it's okay for other friends to say something if it comes up. But if a comment comes out of the blue - it doesn't always go well, even if I know the person meant well. It has everything to do with my own mental state and nothing to do with their intentions.
How do you all deal with comments?