THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

When Calling a Woman "Skinny" Isn't a Compliment Anymore

I have a friend who, every time she sees me, feels the need to say, "You look so skinny." The first time she said this, I took it as a compliment. I thought that she was giving me kudos for the good care I take of myself with three healthy meals a day, exercise, stress management tools like yoga, walks by the beach, romance and good sleep habits. However, now that this is the greeting I get every time I see her, I am beginning to wonder about the motivation behind the comment.

When you greet a friend or colleague you wouldn't say, "You look so fat." Granted being "skinny" in our culture is a little more accepted than being fat, does this make it okay to tell a woman she looks "so skinny" when you greet her?

There is no doubt that weight is a serious issue in America - both on the fat and skinny side. Obesity in the US is on the upswing. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than one-third of US adults are obese, and two-thirds are overweight. Add to this, health-care spending on obesity in the US has nearly doubled in the last 10 years. (Obesity has been linked to numerous health problems including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and some cancers.)

On the skinny side, statistics are also a bit grim. Anorexia is the leading cause of death in young women aged 15-24, and the numbers of young women affected are growing. According to Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, Inc., without treatment, up to 20 percent of people with serious eating disorders die.

When I was 14, I had a short bout with anorexia - and looking at those statistics, I feel grateful to have recovered as I did.

I have spent my life as an athletic, tall, thin person. Here and there I have popped on or dropped off a few pounds depending on what was going on in my life. However, generally I have been a consistent weight, healthy and in great shape.

So, today when someone says to me "you look so skinny" on a repeated basis (all the while I haven't changed weight since the last time I saw that person) - it doesn't register as a compliment - it registers as annoying. It makes me think there is something else going on that I can't quite put my finger on.

While it is wonderful to hear someone say, "You look great!" - talking about the overall essence of a person -- I think it is out of place to greet a woman with the first comment being about her weight.

What do you think?