Over the years, I’ve gotten plenty of feedback about my body, most of it unwelcome.
1) When I was in college and dating someone new, after a night out, we arrived home, and I pulled out a box of Fruit Loops. After a few handfuls, he grabbed the box away from me, and I asked, somewhat provocatively: “What, are you saying I’m fat?”
“No, but you will be.”
This was a guy (the only one I’ve ever known) who regularly dined on rice cakes. I should have known something like this could happen.
2) During my master’s program, I was out on a first date with a man I’d met at the gym. We’re sitting at dinner when he notes, “It looks like you’ve been retaining water.”
Hmm. . . How do you field that one?
3) Having left home at 17, I visit my family several times a year. On most visits, I’m met with one of two responses, either: “It looks like you’ve lost weight.” Or. . . silence.
I’ve decided that I don’t care for either—even the compliments, the you-look-great sentiments, I’d rather not hear them. Because if you’re noticing I lost weight, you’re sure to notice when I’ve gained. More important, though, is the voice inside of me that screams:
Can’t we find something to talk about other than my body?!
I realize the compliments are supposed to be flattering. I realize it’s convention to comment on someone’s (particularly, a family member’s) appearance. But, I’d rather be noticed for something else—maybe we can focus on the fact that while I was away, I earned a Ph.D. Isn’t that more noteworthy than my weight?