‘Killing them with your kindness’ Kate Thornton talks ‘backhanded compliments’ on weight

X Factor: Kate Thornton presents the final in 2006

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Kate Thornton, 49, has spoken out on the effect of “backhanded compliments” on weight during the latest instalment of her podcast, White Wine Question Time. The TV presenter invited priest and journalist Kate Bottley, 46, to have a conversation on the importance of words when it comes to discussing a person’s weight.

The guest explained how people would compliment her on her weight by telling her she is “not as fat as I thought you were”.

She pointed out: “This is my body. I live in this. You don’t have a right to say anything about it.

“And they genuinely think they’re being nice. People genuinely think they’re being kind.”

Speaking of one of her guest’s Twitter threads on weight loss, Kate stressed that “we must always be mindful of actually jumping in with what we think is kindness, when actually, you could literally be killing them with your kindness in that moment.”

She later added: “But this is what you go on to say. You say, ‘no matter how nicely it’s meant, it is a backhanded compliment. So, by implication, what you are saying is, ‘you look great, by the way, you didn’t before.’

“And the reverse of that would be if you were to be equally honest in reverse, ‘you gained weight, you look awful’.

“And actually, we don’t say that so you’re challenging a narrative that rolls on because it’s just being forever vast.”

Kate added: “And what you go on to then say is, ‘I find that what I weigh – what anyone weighs – is perhaps the least interesting thing about me. There are so many more infinitely more fascinating things about humans than just their size.

“‘Happiness is not related to your waist size and the scales can only tell you what you weigh, but they can never tell you how brilliant you are.’”

Kate continued: “And that I thought was so, so, so good to have between my ears last night, so thank you.”

Asked why it is important for her to push herself into a “place of vulnerability”, the priest explained: “Because I’m trying to move the conversation on.

“Because people have done it to me… I’ve checked myself before… I’ve done it… ‘Have you lost weight?’ and then I felt actually, I don’t like that. And I know how it feels.

“It’s an uncomfortable thing when someone pulls you up on something someone said.

“And I don’t want anyone to feel bad when they think they’re being nice. I mean, that’s awful isn’t it?

“When you’re saying something to someone and you think you’ve been kind and they’re like, ‘actually, can you not say that?’, you suddenly feel awful about yourself because you’ve obviously got something going on here that you’ve upset someone.

“But if we don’t have these difficult conversations nothing will change and we’ll just bite our lips until they bleed.

“And I’d much rather have an honest conversation if someone then has upset me, than bury it down.”

The former X Factor presenter has previously shared her experience with anorexia and body dysmorphia.

“When I was a teenager, I had quite a tough time in my teens with bullying at school and weight issues,” she told Laura Whitmore’s Castaway podcast.

Years later, Kate made a documentary that made her realise “those two things were really big contributing factors to me developing eating disorders.”

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