A few weeks ago, I saw a couple of people who are very dear to me* for the first time in a good while; they exclaimed about how good I looked because I'd lost weight. It's true, I've been working on living a healthier life in recent history, so these were hard earned compliments.
However, the gift of the compliment was muddled by the underlying belief that to be thin is to be beautiful and vice versa. Thin certainly is beautiful, but that doesn't mean other sizes aren't beautiful as well. To imply that I look better because I look thinner and not because I look healthier has the potential to encourage bad habits. One of the simplest ways many people lose weight is simply by eating less** but if someone wishes to be healthier they must develop good habits. It's so very dangerous to praise a young woman*** because people respond to praise by repeating the action. If I'd obtained these compliments through unhealthy means, it would be easy for me to continue in those bad habits.
To the compliment givers of this world: try to use healthy and positive words when encouraging someone. Think about what you're saying. It would have been wonderful if they had said something along the lines of a simple "Wow Lydia you look good" or even "Lydia you look like you've been working out more, work it girl!" it would have been better than the "You've gotten thin! Wow Lydia you look good! How much weight have you lost??" that I'd received from these people.
To the compliment receivers: try to keep a good head on your shoulders when you do get praise. Don't allow the way other people see you affect your self perception in a negative way. Take the positive and useful elements from a compliment and forget the less helpful aspects of what the other person has said. You are your own person, don't let what others say rule your life.
Really, we should all work on giving more compliments that have to do with the whole person, not focusing so much on the outer shell of an individual.****
*And who shall not be named here. They're wonderful people, really.
**Or eating nothing at all.
***Or man. Or an old woman or man. Or anyone, really.
****I'll probably write on that topic soon, stay tuned y'all.