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When I made the choice to lose a significant amount of weight, it was after my doctor looked me in the eye and regaled me the tales of What Would Happen If (a stroke in the next five years if I was lucky, almost certain death of a heart attack if I wasn’t). I signed up for the months of hard labor that it would take to get the pounds off. I was mentally prepared for the work that would have to be done, the denial of certain foods, the constant self-talk you have to install when you’re avoiding emotional eating.
What I wasn’t prepared for was how other people would react to my weight loss. The compliments have been amazing and plentiful, for which I am grateful. What I’ve come to realize is that when you deal with your weight loss issues, you suddenly trigger Other People’s Weight Loss Issues, which means that you suddenly have to deal with their shit as well as your own.
So, without further ado, here’s a quick list of some of the crazy things people have said to me while I’ve been working on this process and some quick thoughts around in. In other words, if you’re thinking these little items as your friend is trying to drop some lbs., this is what NOT to say to someone losing weight:
Don’t get too skinny.
What does this even MEAN? This comment has mostly come from relatives who think I look best with “a little meat on my bones.” I am by no means ready to hit the catwalk, people. There is no starvation in my plan, I’m not living on tissues for breakfast, hope for lunch and deep breaths for dinner.
Anyone who has seen me out and about knows that I EAT. My Fresh Direct delivery guy can account to the gigantic boxes of food that come to my house bi-weekly. As long as the world has butter, steak and those little pecans encrusted in honey and whatever that spicy crack-laced salt/sugar combo, there’s no chance of me getting too skinny.
You look best as a size ___.
Anyone who knows what size I am has either seen my clothes on the floor of my bedroom or has gone shopping with me sometime in the past week. Honey, even I don’t know what size I am now. I’m a 10 in this store, a 12 in this jacket (hello? BOOBS.), a 29 jean in this one and a 31 in that one. You know what size I look healthy in? ALIVE. Is ALIVE a size? Because I’m doing this predominately so I don’t wind up DEAD. Back off with the sizes.
No, but how did you REALLY do it?
I have documented this entire process on my blog with all the gory details of exactly what I did to lose the weight. I have checked into exhale mind body spa (Core Fusion), SoulCycle and Equinox Fitness every time I go. There’s nothing left to share except the shape of my morning bathroom break. There’s no magic bullet, people. No one has anything to hide. There are no magic beans in my bedside table.
You’re not going to eat that, are you?
I recently attended a morning beauty event where they were serving nothing but coffee and donuts. I was on my way to a workout and I thought, “You know, I’m going to crack into one of these donuts.” The second I sat down, the PR person walked up to me, stood over my face and said, “I can’t believe someone so skinny eats donuts.”
OK, so all you’re serving is donuts, it’s breakfast time and I’m hungry. Fuck yes, I’m going to eat the donut. I also put butter on toast, eat steak and have been known to lay waste to the ice cream sundaes at ABC Kitchen. I eat everything in moderation. Don’t watch what people on diets are eating. It’s weird.
I always thought you could stand to lose some weight.
This is one of my favorite ones of all time. Another journalist at an event asked how much weight I had lost and when I told her said, “You know, I always thought you could stand to lose 30 or 40 pounds.”
DID YOU NOW?!? Well, thanks for sharing that information. People who are overweight are aware of that fact. People who are sick and suffering are aware that they’re sick and suffering. There’s no need for comments like that. Keep that hateful shit to yourself.
Well, just remember, it’s what inside that counts.
It is, which is why I did it. You know, the whole not-having-a-heart-attack-or-stroke thing. Or diabetes. Or any of the other maladies that my doctor told me would befall me if I kept going the way I was going. My internal organs are great and getting better every day. Or is that not what you meant?
You’re wasting away.
This is something I’ve learned that people think is a compliment. It’s actually not. I am not wasting away. There are people who have extreme issues who are wasting away and it’s not funny or okay. There’s a difference between focused, healthy exercise and dieting and a body-focused obsession that lies in the mind. “You look really great,” is a lovely compliment. Which brings me to this one...
You’re just one stomach flu away from your goal weight.
I had a stomach virus a few weeks ago and someone I know tweeted this at me. This line from The Devil Wears Prada needs to go away. It was cute in 2006 when Emily Blunt uttered it. Its usefulness has since passed. It took me over two years to lose this weight and if that’s the case, I have had the longest case of stomach flu in the history of all mankind.
You should talk to ___. She/he really needs to lose some lbs.
No. No, I shouldn't. Just because I decided to do something to save my life doesn’t make me the intervention specialist for every person you think might suffer from obesity. Here’s the real deal: there are some women who are built to be curvy, luscious and healthy. There’s nothing wrong with some of the people that society thinks are “big.” I have some very beautiful friends who would be doing themselves a disservice if they dropped an inch from their fabulous frames.
Conversely, if you know someone who had an obesity-related health matter like I did, they need to talk to their doctor. When they’re ready to make the changes, they will seek out the appropriate parties that can help them.
I thought you were prettier before.
The proverbial knife in the chest. I wish I could say that this was an isolated incident, but it’s not. One of the things you discover as you come into your own is that when you feel less than, you attract what you put out there. There are some people who only want you around because you make them feel better about themselves, you help put them up on the pedestal they wish they’d earned.
This comment, and the many like it I’ve gotten, usually comes before those relationships end and I never look back. I don’t miss any of the people who’ve said things like this.
But let’s dish in the comments section. Have you ever gotten crazy comments about your body whether you were losing weight or not? Have people made comments about what you’re eating or not eating? Let’s throw our weight around in the comments below: