Rosemary Donahue
Updated June 07, 2016 11:58 am
Getty / Granger Wootz

We should all be able to wear whatever makes us comfortable, whether that means dressing for the weather or wearing certain trends that we want to try out. However, doing so often means that people feel entitled to make comments about our bodies, which can be unwanted — even if they’re from friends, and made with good intentions. When we talk about other people’s bodies, while we might be attempting to compliment our friends, we don’t really know the whole story. For example, sometimes weight loss is actually be a symptom of illness, depression, or an eating disorder. Making comments about other people’s bodies is fraught territory, and even with the best intentions, it’s better to express your affection in a different way.

Here are some suggestions:

Compliment their hair and/or makeup, if they wear it, or say that you love their style.

This is a way to tell someone you like the way they look, but by commenting on a choice they’ve made, rather than something that’s genetic. By telling them that you love aesthetic choices they’ve made, it’s still a way to tell them they look great, but without potentially commenting on their body in a way that might be harmful.

Do you love their writing, attend their plays, watch them play sports? Tell them they do a great job!

Compliments don’t all have to be about how people look! Tell your friend that they’re amazing at what they do. Have you read their recent essay? Are they a great illustrator? Encourage them, acknowledge their hard work, and be there for them when they fail.

Check in with them! Ask them how they’re doing.

Okay, so this isn’t really a compliment, but it’s a thing you can do for your friends that really means a lot. It shows that you care, and that you’re more than just acquaintances. Ask your friend how they’re doing, and let them give you an answer that’s deeper than just, “I’m fine!”

Tell them why you love them so much. Are they hilarious? Are they super smart? Can you come to them with any problem?

Tell your friend they are ~hilarious~. Or that they’re the smartest person you know, or your most trusted confidante. Whatever makes your friend special to you, just be honest about it — they’d love to know, and it’ll make you that much closer.

Like their stuff on social media.

Okay, this one sounds a little silly, but let’s be honest…it’s not, and it means everything. Now share this post! 😉