Ariana Grande's Powerful PSA On Her Body Highlights The Dangers Of 'Kindness'

Ariana Grande is the latest in a seemingly never-ending line of celebrities — and women, specifically — who have taken to social media to talk about their weight; perhaps not out of choice, but to quell the constant public speculation about their bodies. Selena Gomez recently disclosed to fans that her weight fluctuations were due to medications she takes. And Lizzo, who last year shared her perspective on weight with Vanity Fair, details her point of view: "It sucks that we associate weight gain with the negative thing that causes it. It's mixing this beautiful thing that's food — and nourishing ourselves with it, but it's the stress that's the bad thing, not the 20 pounds." 

In response to recent social media commentary about her being "too thin" Grande took to TikTok to share a video addressing the decade-long speculation about her body, while also calling out the problem of focusing on people's bodies. "I think we should be gentler and less comfortable commenting on people's bodies, no matter what," Grande begins the more than 3-minute long video. "Just to aim toward being safer. And keeping each other safer." The singer then elaborated on how unsolicited remarks, even when well-intentioned or complimentary, could actually be causing more harm than people realize.

Good intentions can be harmful

One the big issues with commenting on a person's weight, even in a positive way, is that it conflates a person's health with their appearance. In Grande's case, fans had expressed concerns that she looked too skinny, and therefor must be unhealthy. However, Grande shut this down by highlighting how the previous assumptions made about her health based on her physical appearances have been incorrect. "The body you have been comparing my current body to was the unhealthiest version of my body. I was on a lot of anti-depressants, and drinking on them, and eating poorly, and at the lowest point of my life when I looked the way you consider 'my healthy,'" she said. "But that in fact wasn't 'my healthy.'"

No one has any idea why a person may be experiencing weight loss or gain, let alone if it's even intentional. Weight changes could be due to a recent health diagnosis like depression or eating disorder that someone may not be ready or interested in talking about. Making comments about it when you don't know the full story could be harmful to that person by bringing up negative feelings. Some psychologists have also pointed out that even well-intentioned remarks, like expressing concern about weight loss could be triggering to a person struggling with body image, so it's best to keep it to yourself. Grande echoed this sentiment in her video. "You never know what someone is going through, even if you're coming from a loving [...] and a caring place," Grande continued. "Be gentle with each other. And with yourselves."

People are more than their bodies

Above all, Grande's TikTok PSA is a refreshing reminder that other people's bodies are no one's business. Even if we believe what we're saying is out of kindness, it's important to recognize how we may still be inadvertently causing harm, not just to that person, but society as a whole. As experts told CNN, by commenting on someone's weight, positively or negatively, we're perpetuating the myth that a person's self-worth is defined by their appearance. This creates a culture where losing weight and looking a certain way is to be chased at all costs, which can be seriously harmful to one's body image and self-esteem.

Grande instead urges people to recognize that health takes many different appearances, begging people not pay so much attention to how a person looks. "There are [other] ways to compliment someone, or ways to ignore [them] if you see [something] you don't like," she shared. "If you think you're saying something good or well intentioned — whatever it is: healthy, unhealthy, big, small, this, that, sexy, not sexy — we just shouldn't." Although it will take more than individual actions to make a change to on a societal level, spreading awareness about the dangers of unsolicited comments on one's physical appearance, as well as encouraging acceptance of our differences, just like Grande has done, is a great first step in doing so.