Sunday, November 29, 2015

Weight(y) Matters

Hi. I have lost weight. I am aware of this as it is my body that has diminished in size and I do spend the vast majority of my time inside my body. There really is no need to point this out, certainly not in the way that I have encountered in the recent weeks, maybe even months.

I used to be fat. I wasn’t always fat. I have been various different sizes during my nearly 35 years walking this lovely earth. I have been a “normal size”. Then I was overweight. Then I was skinny. Then overweight, then small again, then slowly getting fatter until I decided to do something about it.  Now I am no longer fat. Regardless of my weight or size, there have always been people who seem to think it appropriate to comment on it. These are mostly people meaning well or people who may not realise the impact of their flippant comments but can I please just address one and all of you when I say there is no need for you to comment on weight lost or gained. To anyone.

Granted, my weight loss right now is noticeable. Shedding 30% of your body weight tends to show. I am pleased and proud of myself for the hard work that I put in and that paid off but listening to comments about my weight is never something I want to be subjected to. Nobody should be. You may mean well by exclaiming “Wow, you’ve gone to nothing!”. I am aware. The pounds didn’t magically vanish overnight and I am not in a state of shock trying to figure out why my trousers won’t stay on me all of a sudden. Step aside, Captain Obvious, I’ve got this.

When I first started losing weight, all the comments on my appearance were positive. As I continued to lose weight, the tone changed.

“Ooh, don’t you think you’re losing too much?”
“Have you stopped eating altogether?”
“Turn sideways and we won’t be able to see you!”
“Be careful now, you don’t want to overdo it”
“Are you sure you’re not ill?”

That last one really baffles me. Really. What if I was ill? How would you feel if I turned around and told you I was seriously ill and that was why I had lost weight? Bet you’d think twice about blurting out the first thing that crosses your mind. Sometimes I think that is said only in search of juicy gossip but then that’s awfully cynical of me, isn’t it?

To the commenters exclaiming that I “must’ve stopped eating” , let me assure you, that is not only physically impossible, going against every survival instinct years or evolution has hammered into you, also something I would never be able to do because I love food. Maybe you’ve never seen me destroy a three course dinner but rest assured, if you’ve seen me eat, you know what the likelihood of me ever letting go of that pleasure good food gives me is.

I mentioned this on Twitter this morning and discovered these seemingly well meaning people are everywhere. No matter what the person’s size, there’s always someone out there to pass comment on it. And make assumptions. If you’re fat, you’re lazy, eat badly and sit on your arse all day. And apparently it’s ok to point this out. If you’re slim, you’re unhealthy, don’t eat and are about to collapse from exhaustion. Apparently it’s okay to point this out, too.

I feel amazing. I have more energy, I love the way I look and I can run a decent distance without wheezing my lungs out. To achieve this, I eat so I don’t pass out while exercising. It really is that simple. On the days I don’t exercise (and this may shock some people) I also eat because that’s what you need to do in order to stay alive. The fact that you don’t see me eat doesn’t mean I don’t do it. There are a lot of things I do that you can’t see. For example, I shower every day. You don’t see me do it, yet I do it and nobody has questioned my personal hygiene habits purely on the basis of the lack of visual proof.

What annoys me is the assumption these people make that it is perfectly acceptable to pass a comment on someone’s weight or appearance. Not everyone welcomes it, no matter how positively you mean it. I daresay most people would feel awkward having someone you don’t even know that well making a comment about how you look. I, for one am touchy enough when it’s coming from someone I love. Just don’t say it unless the person you’re talking to has explicitly asked you to comment on their weight. Even then it may be best to avoid commenting altogether. Weight is a touchy subject.

Even if it is “just words”, you are invading my personal space with your comments and opinions. Just like a touch, when unwanted, it is uncomfortable. I work with people, a lot of people. I can meet and chat to hundreds every day. Not one has passed an unwanted comment. It’s the ones who know me superficially who seem most keen to point out there’s less of me than there was a few years ago. Again; I am aware. There has been a few leery ones. The really uncomfortable ones where a man (yes, always a man. I’m only stating a fact, not hating everyone with a penis) decides he needs to inform me that due to my weight loss I am now more or less attractive to him than I was before. Yeah. I really don’t want to know. I really, really don’t need to know that you may spend a moment thinking about me in a way that is in no way related to what I do for a living. I’m not saying I don’t do that about people I meet but at least I have the common sense to keep these thoughts to myself.

Now, if you find yourself just itching to pass a comment on someone’s appearance, here’s a few you can try instead:
                “You look great”
                “ I like your top/jeans/shoes/hair/scarf/eyes etc..”
                “What a lovely smile”
                “You look happy”

If talking to someone you’re not all that particularly fond of, add sarcastic tone to the statements above and you’re good to go.