I made my weight loss rather public last year for a few reasons. The first was for my own accountability. If people were watching what I did, there would be some level of shame in either screwing up or not reaching the finish line. I think that part helped me to keep the ball rolling, especially at the beginning. The further I got into it, I don’t think I needed accountability as much but I still used it because now people were curious and paying attention. The second reason I talked about it was because I hoped that people would see, though my own success, that you really can do it if you work hard. You can go from obese to a healthy weight. It’s possible.
I have put myself into a position where people comment on my weight. A lot. In a good way. They ask how much I’ve lost and how I did it. I answer them (50 pounds and by learning about nutrition, respectively). I know that I put myself out there and let people see this process. I showed the difficult days and the knee injury. I showed my weekly weigh ins. I was out there. People were happy for me and they wanted to share that with me and it’s a rewarding reminder of where I’ve come. But the important thing is that I made a choice to share.
A couple months ago, though, a comment made me think. I overheard someone (male, I think this matters) mention that a woman had put on a few pounds. Not some imaginary woman but a woman in that room and only just out of earshot. I felt disgusted for her. If I had known the perpetrator more, I would have told him how rough it was to hear that, even if about another person. I thought about what people say to me and how they would never have said “Wow, you’ve put on so much weight! How many pounds has it been?” even though they will tell me “Wow, you’ve lost so much weight! How many pounds has it been?”
It made me think that when I did gain weight, people probably talked about it and how they were worried or wondered if I was okay. Maybe they even joked at my expense and maybe it’s hopeful of me to think that their comments were concern rather than something worse. He could easily have been talking about me a few years ago. But now that I’ve turned the tables they’re able to comment in a positive way and say it to me rather than to other people when I’m not there.
It has made me feel a little bit more weary about the comments I’ve been getting and I know that it’s wrong on some level to feel that because the people commenting positively really do mean it in the best possible way. They are genuinely impressed (or that’s what I’m told). But there’s just something about it that feels wrong because they would never have told me anything when I was in the process of gaining.
So there is a point where it feels strange to receive these comments. At least for me. And also for a friend of mine, except her situation is not like mine. She was not overweight and she isn’t now. The situation that she told me about that struck me was on the other end of the spectrum but very awkward and inappropriate all the same.
She is thin, but not dangerously so, and was commenting on how cold she was in the air conditioning when another person (male, I’m not sure if it matters) told her that if she ate more and wasn’t so thin, then maybe she wouldn’t be cold.
This bothered her because she eats plenty–she’s just naturally thin and okay with her own self. But why do some feel is acceptable to comment on her weight, even thought she is well within healthy limits?
I accept a level of commenting because I talk very openly about my own weight but her? She’s not. She’s just naturally thin and that is not a problem for her. I’ve never even heard her bring up her weight. So why is there negativity? Why is she made to feel as though her weight is unacceptable, even though she’s healthy? And even if she did put on some weight, I have a feeling that these same types would also comment (but maybe not so openly to her) that maybe she was getting a little chubby.
Here’s the point I’m driving at: if people aren’t talking about their weight and they are not harming themselves, then you probably shouldn’t talk about their weight either. It’s none of your business.
I talk openly about my weight loss because it’s important for me to stay honest with myself and for others, even just one person, to see what I’ve done and know it’s possible. But I still didn’t do this for anyone. I didn’t do it in preparation for a wedding. I didn’t do it because I was worried what others thought of me. I didn’t do it for you, or for my family, or for my husband. I did it because I felt like crap and I needed to change.
I welcome people to talk to me about it, ask questions, and figure out how they can achieve their goals. But others have to know that not everyone is me and not everyone welcomes comments on their weight.
So just, you know, don’t.