Thursday, February 15, 2007

Did You Lose Weight?

Several months back, I had lunch with a friend, whom I hadn’t seen for a while. Walking out of the restaurant, my friend observed, “You look like you’ve lost weight." Lest I forget that thinness equals greatness, she continued, “You look great!” While I didn’t know if I had or hadn’t actually lost weight, her comments spurred an interesting internal dialogue: Wouldn’t it be really great if we didn’t have to have conversations about each other’s bodies? (Apparently, my friend isn’t up-to-date on this little project I’ve been working on.) And, if this isn’t possible, wouldn’t it be interesting if we could comment on people’s weight-gains and –losses with the same emotional valence? In this way, perhaps my friend could see me several months later, notice that I’ve put on a few pounds and offer, if she were to offer anything at all, “Looks like you’ve gained some weight,” and I, recognizing my weight as just one aspect of my appearance (which is just once aspect of who am I) and knowing that my weight and shape have absolutely no bearing on my happiness or success would be able to shrug off her comment as easily I did the last time.

12 comments:

Emily Jolie said...

...and isn't funny how, with men, it can be the other way around (but rarely with women)? A friend told me the other day that she'd run into an ex of hers. She said "He got so thin - he looked terrible!"

Personally, I think that how good somebody looks comes from their attitude about themselves. Most women feel more comfortable in their bodies when they lose a little weight, but I don't think it's the weight per se that makes them look better. It's the way they hold themselves and how they walk through the world - with their head held higher and more self-confidence!

with love,
Emily

PalmTreeChick said...

I think weight comments should be avoided all together. If someone says to you "hey, you lost weight you look great" it's like "what did I look like before? A fat cow?" It's almost like a lose/lose situation. Though sometimes the "compliment" does make ya feel good.

Anonymous said...

I have really come to hate comments like that. Fortunately most people don't make them, but when they do, it's usually of the "you've lost weight" variety,not about an apparent gain. I have decided to completely ignore, i.e., not respond at all to, those comments. If the person presses me by asking whether I've lost weight, I say I don't know and end it there.

Anonymous said...

Er...yeah... I never comment on anyone's weight anymore. Ever. Not since a friend told me she effused about someone's fab weight loss only to find out the woman had been fighting cancer. I find it offensive when someone comments on my body or weight for any reason.

Anonymous said...

I have not commented on anyone's weight in quite a few years now. There are plenty of other ways to compliment someone on their appearance such as great hairdo, love your accessories, and so on. Weight has far too much baggage.

If someone tries to 'be nice' and say I've lost weight and look great, I (as politely as possible) change the topic immediately and it's usually clear that I am not interested in talking about weight or diets.

TrixieBelden said...

I completely agree with palmtreechick - when people say that to me it's like, "So, I looked like shit before? Thanks!" I've lost weight in the past few months, but very few if any people have commented. I've gotten a couple nebulous comments like "You look great", but no one has asked if I've lost weight. I'm actually quite happy that they haven't. If I haven't brought up the fact that I'm doing Weight Watchers to them already (which I think I've told 1 person) I don't want to discuss my weight loss with them. In fact, I don't really want to discuss my weight loss with the 1 friend who knows I'm doing WW. All in all I'm happy my weight loss journey has flown pretty much under the radar at grad school.

And when people say stuff like that comparisons are inevitable. I read into it - either I feel guilty if it is a friend who happens to weigh more than me that I am "leaving her behind" and if it is a friend who is thinner than me, which they ALL are, I feel like they are being condescending like, "see, with a little more work you might belong in our healthy/thin group".

ps22 said...

I have to admit that I have said it before, usually with a negative connotation because in most of my friend's cases it usually means that they have been sick, stressed, overworked, etc. I have a colleague who has been dieting/exercising. I am impressed with her increased activity level (she never did any before), but can't stand her diet because it seems very restrictive to me. I find myself trying to give her compliments that reflect her commitment to exercise and activity, like how her arms look ripped or something.

But i have one friend who asks me if I have lost weight every time she sees me and it drives me bananas. I don't really weigh myself regularly, so I never know if its true or not (i think my weight fluctuates in either direction by 3-4 pounds). Because I know she is a particularly insecure person with her looks (even though she is very attractive), I find myself making excuses like "its probably just the pants I'm wearing" or "I was sick recently" when to be honest, I have no idea if I have or haven't lost any weight - only because I don't want her to feel bad or obsess about it to the nth degree (which is incredibly annoying and ruins my time with her). I know that's my issue that I feel the need to do that...its come to the point where I cannot stand receiving compliments from her.

Anonymous said...

I also have a coworker who asked me "have you lost weight?" the other day. I answered with "oh no! I've been trying to gain a little. I guess I have to start eating more". I learned that response leaves people dumbfounded, and I am sure she will never ask me that again.

Anonymous said...

I hate it when people tell me that. It's happened a few times in the last couple of months.

I've had an eating disorder for 13 years and it exacurbates that part of my brain that tends towards obsessive exercise and calorie restriction, as much as I fight it every day.

My mind has been permenantly 'split' in 2 from the psychological torture I've been through over the years (I am only 21!) and the various phases that range from being severely anorexic to a healthy weight exercise-bulimic to an emaciated substance abuser to somewhere in between- limbo- which is where I am now- half heartedly attempting recovery and occasionally lapsing into phases of self abuse because I'm not sure life has much more to offer me if I do recover.

This is going to live with me for the rest of my life. In my more vulnerable moments I wish it would kill me sooner (via comorbid conditions coexisting with my ED-NOS or medical complications, a heart attack maybe) because I am so tired of fighting.

Lucy said...

This is my first comment on your blog. So hi!

The topic of this post bothers me lot. I have trouble accepting compliments in general, but the 'have you lost weight?' comments are by far the worst.

I work with a lady who feels that it's her job to monitor and comment on everybody's weight, as well as analyzing everything they eat. Her favorite line of 'that looks healthy, are you trying to lose weight?' annoys me the most. Eating healthy food isn't always about losing weight - I maintain a healthy diet because I like to look after my body, and I feel better when I'm eating better. And whether I fill my body with nutritious healthy food, or processed sugary crap is my business, and should be of no concern to a colleague I barely even know.

I think that the people who always comment about people's weight do so because they have their own food/body image issues. If food and weight issues weren't on their minds, most of the time they wouldn't even notice what was on everyone else's plate.

drstaceyny said...

ej--interesting. I agree.

ptc--it is a difficult dialogue.

anon 4:31--good answer.

anon 4:46--definitely perspective-gaining.

anon 6:16--good job.

What's up with all the anons?

tb--good point abt the comparisons. They can be toxic.

ps--sounds like a good approach w/your colleague.

anon 4:05--lol!

anon 6:27--I'm so sorry to hear this. I hope you're getting help.

lucy--hi to you, too! I'd agree. . .

Anonymous said...

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