“You’ve lost weight! You look great!”
I’ve heard that quite a few times over the past week. I’ve been conflicted as to what to say. I don’t want to be rude (particularly if it’s someone at work), but I feel the need to respond with something other than positive/affirmative. Because I haven’t looked great at all. I’ve had shadows and bags underneath my eyes, I’m still coughing a lot of the time and I frequently turn green with nausea.
I haven’t looked great. I have only looked thinner.
It has been two-fold. First I was sick with a cold that turned into a chest infection. It left me as weak as a kitten and with absolutely no energy. I didn’t eat properly the whole week I was sick. I was either too exhausted, too sore or when I did try to eat, it just made me cough more. I’m lucky a friend dropped by with home made soup and rolls (and some other tasty noms for me to nibble at), or I probably wouldn’t have eaten anything solid all week.
Add to this that thanks to my recent diagnosis of T2 diabetes, I am back on Metformin again. Diabex to be particular, though it doesn’t make much difference, all versions of Metformin make me sick. Not to be indelicate, but they make me spend most of the day going back and forth to the toilet, with the occasional vomit in between. At least for the first month or so taking it, and again when the dosage is changed. I’m just settling down into my initial dosage now, and I know I have to adjust the dosage soon.
But I’ve lost some weight, so people say “You look great!” Regardless of how I feel.
I have said many times before that this whole culture of thin supposedly equaling health actually has nothing to do with health and everything to do with appearance. People see thin as “better” so they label it as “healthier”.
I have seen people who have weight loss surgery turn grey-skinned, lose their hair, have shadows and bags under their eyes, lose teeth, become physically frail and weak, their skin break out and develop chronic shaking. Not to mention the things you can’t see – reflux, vomiting, bowel problems etc. Yet they lose weight, so people say “You look great!” When they are not well at all and their quality of life is far worse than it was when they were fat. But we are so indoctrinated that thin = better, if anyone was to show genuine concern for how they feel physically, they become the enemy, the one who “doesn’t want me to be healthy.”
A few years ago, a friend of mine had cancer. She had a hell of a fight on her hands and underwent huge doses of chemotherapy to try to beat it. I remember at her lowest point, at the moment it was touch and go whether she would survive, people kept telling her she looked fabulous. Simply because she’d gone from a fat lady to a thin lady. Of course, she was dangerously ill and it was on the line as to whether or not she would survive. But because she had lost weight, many people deemed that she “looked great”.
This happens a lot to fat people. Even without any solicitation, all we have to do is look like we’ve lost even the tiniest amount of weight (even if it’s just clothing that makes us look this way) and people tell us we “look great”. I remember in my deepest, darkest eating disorder days when I starved, purged and exercised myself down to my thinnest (which was a size 16-18 – I’m currently a size 26) and I was desperately unhappy because being thin didn’t fix my life at all, and I was physically sick from all the ways I was punishing my body, people told me that I looked great. They told me I was awesome, fabulous and amazing. Without ever once asking me how I felt. Which was miserable and sick.
If that’s what I have to do to look great in the eyes of the world… no thanks. I’d rather feel good, trust my body to show me what it needs, feed it as best I can and move it in ways that I enjoy, and stay fat than do that kind of damage to myself in the name of looking good.