how to talk to someone about their body

One time my good friend was at a party where people were not wearing shirts.  She was having a conversation with someone who awkwardly said, “I think your breasts are beautiful, by the way.”

My friend reported this to me years later, laughing.  The situation had been novel, for her.  It was funny to consider the etiquette of naked parties.

It was not a sex party–it was an art party.  Grad students–what are you gonna do.  Attend the party, get worked up, go home, and masturbate alone, like sad young Morrissey after at night at the bar.

What was an ok way to comment on someone’s body, and what kind of language was desired, then and there?  How to talk to someone about their body is a big deal.

what I like

I’m famous for not wanting a comment on my share!  When people admire my appearance in any way, I tend to feel surprised and not know how to react.  It’s a new thing, for me–to want to be perceived.

My breasts are hella pretty.  I get little feedback about them!  My spouse enjoys them, for sure.  I love them.  I pet them often and admire them in the mirror, as they change, with age.  But people mostly seem not that excited about them.

I told all this to my spouse.  “What would it look like, if people were excited about them?” my spouse asked.  True–what would they say?  I don’t ask for tit feedback.

I give a “leave me alone” vibe to many people.  In person I’m usually very quiet, or was for my entire life up to two years ago.  I give mixed messages–that’s for sure.  Sorry about that.

weight fluctuation

When my weight fluctuates, people don’t comment.  That’s really good!  I would have a cow, for sure, quietly.  I don’t want praise or non-praise.  What could they say?

“I notice you seem slightly smaller, physically.”

“Yes, this is true.”

“I acknowledge that, neutrally.”  We sound like those alien comics!

“Thank you for your neutrality.”

“Do you need help with any aspect of your health or well-being, pertaining to your mass or volume?”

“No, thank you.  I will let you know if I need help–I promise.”

People put huge value judgments on weight that I don’t participate in.  Most of my friends are smart and sensitive enough to notice I don’t wanna do that!

what other people like

Do you like comments on your appearance?  How often does that go well?  “You look pretty today!” can be weird, depending on who says it.

Probably really good friends, it’s ok?  Usually I hold all that in.  I go around finding my loved ones beautiful all the time.  But mostly I don’t trust myself to say it in a way that’s ok.

Sometimes I just can’t help it–a friend’s appearance shocks me with excellence.  I let out an accidental “yeow!” or say, “Wow!  You look so pretty today!”  They usually look a little embarrassed.  But they keep being my friend, so I guess it’s ok.

“Gmorning, beautiful,” just seems easy and natural when I super like someone beautiful.  And super liking someone would probably make them beautiful to me, even if they were ugly!

Some people seem very cared for, to hear they’re beautiful.  It can get mixed up with family stuff.  After my dad died, I told my mom she was beautiful–often.  Seemed like she needed to hear it; no one else was telling her that, and it was nourishing for her to hear, because being beautiful was part of her identity.

life goal

Then there’s the whole idea of how we don’t owe beauty to anyone, and being beautiful is not the goal of my life.  I was taught that being pretty, easy to be around, caretaking, and self-sacrificing was my duty as a woman.

Those all went together, somehow.  Sounds like a 1950s cliche–skinny white lady wearing high heels and an apron.  I can resist all of that, or part.

I am beautiful, in my own way.  Used to be opposed to trying, but now I can at least play with it.


How to talk to someone about their body is personal and should be personalized.  Disability means friends and I are talking about pain level, diagnosis, limitations, medications, treatments, foods, sleep, and capacity all the time.

Otherwise, mostly I like to avoid the subject, unless we’re super close.  Appearance, I mean.  “Is that a new hat?” is easier than, “The gray bits in your beard are charming and excite me.”

But it’s fun to try new things and be vulnerable within a learning zone, not a panic zone.

By Nest

Curious, disabled Earth Goddess, telling the truth.

4 replies on “how to talk to someone about their body”

Dear Nest,
I celebrate your sublime uniqueness and the stirring ways that you proclaim this from the inside out and the outside in. All these attributes that enhance and magnify your deepest thoughts and tenderly cup your vulnerable unravellings are wondrous.
Your courage is inspiring and shines a warm light on me and through me. I am still learning and trying to find words to entrust my self to others. Part of the legacy of my trauma story was being disembodied from sensuality, so when you speak of this and disclose ways of self seeing by being brave hearted and brave breasted..I marvel at your honesty… Which is enabling in all the best ways for me… I am sorry that those who you brave ‘breastingly’ revealed close pictures with (of that which is most closest to your heart literally and figuratively to) for whatever reason didn’t or maybe couldn’t find ways within themselves to express back to you.. this is a great sadness and miscarriage of justice that you experienced… I have elements of this when someone affects me so emotionally in their words and acts of physical expression and then I reply in deep words or reciprocate more honestly physically with them and from what I perceive they may retreat or be overwhelmed or sadder still…. not even acknowledge or give pithy reply… This saddens me this happened for you… With your permission I could rewrite some of this imbalance you experienced and easily write and respond in beautiful sonnets full of earthy, ground of being sensuality to those things you hold most closest to you as I have attempted in these first words

dear Ruah, thank you for your beautiful care. I am looking forward to your mail and getting to know you more. I would like to be close to you somehow. your kindness is exquisite. I’m sorry people have not always responded well. I know how that can be! thank you for your generosity of words and feeling, and for being who you are. thank you for appreciating me as I am also. you are a treasure. all love, Nest

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