‘Why Jonah Hill Is Right For Shutting Down Conversation About His Weight’

The actor has asked his followers not to comment on his recent weight loss

Jonah Hill

by Grazia |

The actor Jonah Hill took to Instagram this week to ask people to stop commenting on his recent weight loss, writing: “I know you mean well but I kindly ask that you not comment on my body. Good or bad, I want to politely let you know it’s not helpful and doesn’t feel good. Much respect.”

As I read the post three thoughts came to mind; firstly, the huge amount of respect I had for Jonah for shutting down the conversations about his body. Secondly, the fact he had to publicly announce something like this is so frustrating. Why do we normalise unsolicited judgement, advice and comments about our bodies as if it’s the only interesting thing about us? And finally, how long will his post be remembered before we fall back into our usual comparison and judgement of how others look?

Over the last year and a half, we have seen an increase in fixation on bodies, to the extent that we judge how good somebody’s pandemic has been based on whether they gained weight or not.

But complimenting weight loss is not a new phenomenon, it is something that has been around for centuries. I could sit here and list of all the negatives of complimenting weight loss, from the fact you may be complimenting someone with an eating disorder, or someone who is grieving, or who is ill. Your so-called compliment might cause someone to question whether they looked bad before. It is clear that diet culture, which glamourises weight loss and fat-phobia, is rife across our society and whilst for some you might think these compliments are harmless, I have seen first hand the dangers attached to them.

If we continue to fixate on body size and how much someone weighs, it perpetuates the idea that our self-worth comes from what we look like, and in some cases this will lead to the narrative “in order to be good enough I need to be a certain size or shape.”

Whilst we know that claiming eating disorders are caused by bad body image is far too simplistic, and not accurate on so many levels because in fact they are complicated mental illnesses caused by a multitude of factors from the society you live in to genetics, we know that body image becomes something that can be intrinsically linked.

A study done by the Mental Health Foundation in 2019 found that 20% of adults felt shame, 34% felt low and 19% felt disgusted because of their body image. A study done in 2020 by the Women’s Health and Equalities committee saw this figure rise to a staggering 61% of adults and 66% of children who felt negative or very negative about their body image most of the time.

I developed anorexia when I was about thirteen years old. For me it was a way of numbing emotion, dealing with trauma, and it gave me this real sense of value. It was never about body image, or trying to look a certain way.

After four years of struggling with anorexia I was eventually admitted to treatment where I spent a year in hospital starting on my own recovery. Whilst eating disorders are not about food, weight or body image, we know in so many cases that people end up projecting their feelings on to their body and onto the food. Something that caused me to get stuck in recovery in the past and something that I hear time and time again it this fear of our bodies changing.

A fear that if we change our bodies, if we gain weight, we won’t be as loveable, as healthy. It is this fear that is not only something that paralyses people, but also a fear that is fuelled by people complimenting weight loss.

I hear story after story of people putting so much emphasis on the way they look as if that is the one thing in life that defines us. Being a certain size or shape doesn’t make people like us more or less, it doesn’t mean people will have more or less fun when they are with us.

I urge you today to call yourself out when you start to fixate on the bodies around you. Whether you are walking down the street, scrolling on Instagram, or walking into a room; if you immediately judge and compare the size of everyone in there, call yourself out. Do the same when you go to compliment someone’s body or weight loss, and instead compliment them on something else.

Hope Virgo is an author and founder of #DumpTheScales

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us