Several weeks back, I attended a therapy conference, one that meets several times a year. Because of I've been to a few of these, I've come to know some of the members of this particular group. On the first night of the conference, I ran into another psychologist. I smiled at him as we passed each other in the hall and he said, in greeting, "Have you gained weight?"
No one at this conference knows about my EWHAED idea, so I decided to broach the topic the next day. When we met in a smaller group, with said colleague included, I mentioned how he had greeted me the night before and why this struck a nerve. Outside of a moment of snarkiness (which I feel obligated to report), I explained to him why the focus on weight is troubling to me, why it is troubling to all of us.
"Did you stop to think I was noticing your body?" he explained.
Yes, I did. Not helping.
"I just remember that when I met you last year, you were training for the marathon."
Still not helping.
I explained to the group that this reinforces the idea that women are noticed/judged for their bodies at the expense of other attributes. And, then, I said what seemed to shock the group the most, something I've written here before: "By the way, I also don't want you to ask if I've lost weight."
"Then, what are we supposed to say?" another male colleague asked, clearly frustrated by the parameters I set.
"Nothing! You don't need to say anything about my body or about the way I look. I can connect with you in so many ways, outside of my appearance. Can't we focus on that?"
I think I eventually got my point across, but I'm still marvelling at how difficult it was to make, ironically, in a room full of mental health professionals. Should I have taken on this battle? What would you have said?