I have gained and lost the same 30 lbs for years. The first time I lost the weight, people I knew in high school introduced themselves to me as if we were strangers. The second time, I was told that I look “more mature.” The next time was wrought with opinions on diets and why I’m not on the right one. It’s always about my body or their opinion and I’m sick of it.
It makes gaining weight emotionally harder. As someone whose weight has fluctuated quite a bit over the years, I always think about the compliments on my weight loss when the pounds start packing back on. Commenting on how I look so good and so cute when I’m thinner makes me think I’m anything but when I gain weight. I do appreciate the compliments but I worry about what others think when I find myself losing control of my eating habits. I certainly don’t get comments about how great I look after I gain 10 pounds.
It’s a form of body shaming. When we tell people they look great skinny, we’re shaming those who are overweight. They still look great, no matter the weight. Our society is so obsessed with face to face Fridays and transformation Tuesdays that we think heavier is uglier, like something in them is missing because they are bigger. It’s really a form of fat shaming that is subtle but still really harmful/hurtful.
People dismiss the hard work. What’s most amazing is me realizing that eating 10 Luna bars in one sitting won’t make my anxiety go away or that beer and pizza won’t fix my imposter syndrome. That’s a huge victory, way more so than smaller jeans. This is especially true if you grew up overweight because it’s how you’ve identified yourself. Slimming down is a by-product of changing your whole view on habits and who you are. That’s what I’d rather be recognized for.
It’s Awkward AF. When I hear a weight loss compliment, I immediately look down, blush, tuck my hair behind my ear, and thank them. What am I supposed to say? Do they want to hear about how I tracked everything I put in my mouth? Maybe just want a shallow “oh, thank you” and “I watch what I eat”? Then some people just keep repeating how much weight I’ve lost as if it’s a topic of conversation. It’s basically the worst.
Their tone matters, and it’s not always positive. I’ve gotten a true variety of comments and “compliments.” One girl widened her eyes and deadpanned, “You’ve lost A LOT of weight.” Okay, yeah, I lost 30 pounds, but I wasn’t morbidly obese, for the love of God. She hadn’t even seen me at my highest weight! The last time she saw me four years prior, I was maybe 10 pounds smaller. Her tone got to me. Was I just huge and never noticed? Clearly, this still haunts me some eight years later.
It forces me to compare myself with other people. When people comment that you’ve lost weight, it’s more or less saying that you’re now is significantly better than you were before. This will haunt you as you think about your heavier self. Were people thinking, “How does she not know how terrible she looks?” or did they just notice how wonderful I am now that my weight is down? Is it a coincidence? How come I never get an, “Omg, you look so healthy!” when I’m pudgy but happy?
It’s totally superficial. We’re all accomplished humans. Losing weight is an accomplishment, but the inner transformation is really the remarkable change here. Instead of commenting on my skinny face, I wish people would notice how amazing that inner transformation is. Weight loss isn’t what makes you look better. It’s you realizing that you don’t need all the food that’s put in front of you… and the release of guilt from eating all your roommate’s Luna bars.
Someone always has an opinion. A compliment so often follows someone’s two cents that is usually kinda rude. Let’s face it, you have a friend like that. The one who says the diet you’ve had success with isn’t healthy or it didn’t work for them for whatever reason. Then they try to sell you on something that worked for them 10 years ago, like eating maple leaves and drinking water sprinkled with cayenne pepper. Is this a discussion or are they lecturing me? Either way, I’m already bored.
The weight loss isn’t always intentional. I mean, what if I just got over food poisoning or a tapeworm or the stomach flu? Sure, I lost a few pounds, but my health is questionable. Unless I say, “Yeah, I got a tapeworm off of Ebay to lose weight,” I wish they’d hold off on the compliments until they’re sure it’s a long-term effort, not a day I look less bloated. There are tons of reasons why any one person might look skinner on a given day.
I might not be ready to hear the compliments. I often hide my new diet or workout until I’m sure it’s long-term. Chubby people have started and failed fitness goals so many times that you just stop telling anyone. As you start to lose weight, compliments early on can put pressure on your new habits. I prefer the compliments when people know I’m making the effort, and that takes time.
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