It’s My Body: Why Unsolicited Comments Can Be Hurtful

It’s My Body: Why Unsolicited Comments Can Be Hurtful
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It’s annoying — yes, freaking annoying — when strangers and even acquaintances feel compelled to comment on another person’s appearance.

I’ve heard comments like, “Your skin looks better than the last time,” or “Your skin is worse than before, right?” Others might mention an increase in weight or someone might say, “You look really tired today.”

Because these statements are unsolicited, those making them never ask if it’s OK. They just assume. Most of the time, people who make such comments don’t even see me very often. And their thoughts are not only misplaced but also incorrect. But that doesn’t seem to matter to them.

I wonder what makes people think they have the right to judge another person’s appearance.

The saying, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” really rings true for me. Who cares about my skin? It’s my skin, and mine alone. Why should others care if I’ve gained or lost weight? There are far more important things in life than worrying about the physical appearance of another person.

Gabriela, an Instagrammer who posts about her skin healing process, recently shared a graphic that I really like:

(Screenshot via @brielamour89, Instagram)

While I am on the topic of unsolicited comments, another annoyance is when people — mostly strangers — pretend to know how to cure my rare genetic skin condition. If eating more garlic and cutting down on fish cured epidermolysis bullosa (EB), scientists and researchers would know by now.

Instead of offering advice, it would be better to listen when I explain what EB is and what researchers are doing to try to solve the puzzle. And please remember that it is my body, not yours.

I know that people often mean well, but this type of “advice” can hurt.

As it’s a new year, I’ve decided to leave the negative thoughts behind and set clear boundaries for myself and others. I need to be more honest about my thoughts and feelings, with strangers, acquaintances, friends, and family members. I think I’ve taken the first step.

If you have received negative comments like these, remember, it’s your body, it does amazing things, and it’s beautiful. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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Note: Epidermolysis Bullosa News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Epidermolysis Bullosa News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to epidermolysis bullosa.

My Name is Lena, I am 26 years old and was born with the rare, genetic skin condition Epidermolysis bullosa (EB). Those who live with EB are also called butterfly children. I work with DEBRA Austria, the organization that supports butterfly children in Austria and with another NGO which functions as an umbrella organization for rare diseases in Austria. I am a very outgoing, happy person. I love to be with family and friends, travel, sing, do sports, but I also enjoy being by myself, read, be creative. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to live in Spain, learn Spanish and fall in love with the country, the people and the language. I am a sun, beach and sea person and I love brunch. Writing is something that I love too, and with BioNews and my column The Girl with the Butterfly Tattoo I found the perfect way to combine doing something creative and finding a way to bring my thoughts and feelings into something I and others can better understand. And with every column I get closer to finding my true self and that is a very exciting adventure.
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My Name is Lena, I am 26 years old and was born with the rare, genetic skin condition Epidermolysis bullosa (EB). Those who live with EB are also called butterfly children. I work with DEBRA Austria, the organization that supports butterfly children in Austria and with another NGO which functions as an umbrella organization for rare diseases in Austria. I am a very outgoing, happy person. I love to be with family and friends, travel, sing, do sports, but I also enjoy being by myself, read, be creative. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to live in Spain, learn Spanish and fall in love with the country, the people and the language. I am a sun, beach and sea person and I love brunch. Writing is something that I love too, and with BioNews and my column The Girl with the Butterfly Tattoo I found the perfect way to combine doing something creative and finding a way to bring my thoughts and feelings into something I and others can better understand. And with every column I get closer to finding my true self and that is a very exciting adventure.
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2 comments

  1. Sean says:

    I do not have a rare genetic skin condition; nonetheless, I 100% agree with your statements. Only in the context of a long-term friendship wherein the people are entirely comfortable should certain subjects be broached. Comments typically reveal how others are uncomfortable with themselves, yet choose to point out someone else’s flaws; thereby, they themselves feel better – it’s shameful.
    Drawing lines to defend yourself is one thing, but also do not shutdown and destroy conversation just because a person stepped out of line and hurt your feelings. Rather, explain how their comments hurt you and why, then adding these comments are strictly reserved for the closes friends and family members who feel confident and comfortable enough in that relationship to be entirely open and honest with one another.
    Differing levels of acquaintance means most people should have varying levels of interaction and closeness; however, in my experience this is seldom the case. Most people treat a stranger the same way they will treat a friend of family member, so it is up to you to define that relationship since few people ever truly do for themselves.
    Cheers love and hope you do set appropriate boundaries for yourself and others. Relationships are difficult, especially when I consider your unique situation, but don’t let others comments drag you down – they only reveal those jerks self-righteousness and deeply self-absorbed judgments.

    • Lena Riedl says:

      Hey Sean,

      thank you so much for your very thoughtful comment and advice!!
      I am very grateful for that! :))

      I learned a lot about boundaries the last few months and I think I am getting better and better at setting them right.

      Hope you are doing great!

      All the best,
      Lena

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