Posted on August 3, 2012 by Jennifer Lilley
You know that irresistible urge to go beyond complimenting someone who lost weight?
Well, sometimes a “Good for you! How’d you do it?” is all that’s needed.
Beyond that, some questions and comments can be more derogatory than congratulatory. (And end up embarrassing everyone involved).
Here are 10 things that someone who lost weight doesn’t really want to hear, no matter how proud they are for their ability to shed pounds.
1. How much more do you have to go?
Um, I just lost 50 pounds, pal.
I think I’m there.
2. Wow, you look so pretty/handsome now.
Oh, so that explains why children broke out in expressions of terror at the sight of us former fatties, clinging to their mommy’s skirt hems for dear life.
Whew. Thank goodness we’re pretty NOW, because honestly, all those phone calls from movie directors in need of homely nerds and/or nightmare-inducing faces were getting to be too much.
Now that we’ve lost some weight, we’re suddenly cute/pretty/handsome.
Hey, whatever happened to all that “it’s on the inside that counts” stuff?
3. So, what size are you?
Ok, so I know these days, everyone’s pretty comfortable telling strangers everything from what romantic bedroom positions float their boat to how they have a thing for collecting toenail clippings. But really, is anything sacred anymore?
Not that our clothing size is on par with revealing salaries or some horrible childhood memory, but I’m pretty sure all our lives will go on just fine with you not knowing whether I’m a small, medium or large or whether I went from a D or C cup to B or an A.
4. I bet you have so many admirers now!
Why yes, I say, as I toss the latest love letter from Brad Pitt and David Beckham into my stash of marriage proposals and naughty notes. (Some letters are more boring: “Jen, you look so pretty now. What size are you, anyway? XOXO, David B”).
This one gets me because well, it’s somewhat true. And like most humans, sometimes the truth hurts (some say it hurts, I say it often just pis*es me off). Because the truth is, yes, people do treat you differently. No, not in that admirers-lined-up-at-the-door kind of way, but in everyday interactions. Both men and women tend to be more receptive to ideas and interested in general conversation, doors are held open from longer than normal distances, restaurant checks with a missing side order will be dismissed with a smile . . . things along those lines.
Inside, we’re the same people we always were, just tinier. And it’s that latter part that seems to make people a tad friendlier.
Some people I mention this to say such niceness was really around all along, but it was me—grumpy, fat, miserable “the world is against plus-size me” me—who refused to see it. I’m not so sure.
I swear, doors weren’t held open for me like this when I was 70 pounds heavier.
5. Do you have stretch marks?
Thanks for your, um, concern.
Ok, it’s like this.
You know how you go to the grocery store and when you’re checking out, you tear off a nice, smooth plastic bag from the hook? Then you stash it beyond capacity with milk cartons, Jell-O packs and shampoo? When you get home and put the items away, the empty plastic bag has all kinds of folds and wrinkles in random places. And then you keep doing this: You reuse the bag at home, loading it up again for use as tomorrow’s lunch bag, a flip-flop tote the day after that . . . expanding and then emptying, expanding then emptying . . . it’s not quite going to ever look like that first day you saw it: smooth and flat.
Skin’s kinda like that.
6. Are you dying?
Seeing the transformation in others who lose weight can be quite shocking, especially if they lost a significant amount and especially if someone hasn’t seen them in a while. But sometimes the questions people ask about their loss are quite shocking.
“Are you dying? Are you sick? Do you have cancer? Do you have an eating disorder?”
Yes, I had this asked of me by a coworker years ago (his creative talent was somewhat admirable, his social skills not so much). He outright shot off a barrage of death related questions the day I walked in wearing a noticeably smaller pant style.
I mean, who asks this? Thinking is one thing, but outright asking is another.
A few days later though, he complimented me on my toned upper arms (“nice guns”). I think it was an attempt to apologize for all the death talk. In his eyes, I might be on the brink of choosing a casket, but at least I’d be lying there with some damn nice looking arms crossed over my chest.
7. I liked you fatter.
Great, and I liked you quieter.
I’m happier being able to tie my shoes without four rolls of belly bulge beating me to the punch, thank you very much.
And what’s that supposed to mean anyway? Are you losing out on “I bet she’ll eat another slice in an hour” bets with friends? Am I suddenly void of all things jovial (because, as we all know, ALL rotund folks are super-duper jolly)?
8. Oh, c’mon. You can have another dish of ice cream.
I can. But I won’t. That’s what landed me in this whole situation in the first place.
This is by far the most terrorizing thing for those who’ve lost weight can hear. When you’ve just shed any amount of weight, a dinner out with friends is on par with driving in New Jersey traffic during rush hour (white-knuckle, heart palpitating kind of scary).
Sure, it’s ok to have desert every so often. But when you’re not even a week out from your victory and people are practically chanting, “One more scoop! One more scoop!” we feel like we’re thrust back into our bad habits, this time with peer pressure to boot.
Let us be!
9. What was it like?
Oh, don’t get me going.
Sometimes the question is asked as if we just went through the most unusual experience ever, one where a mere glimpse of cheesecake will spark a case of post-traumatic stress syndrome. One of alien abduction proportions. Other times, the question is asked with a tone of awe that suggests we just single handedly ended world hunger while becoming the first person to climb Mt. Everest in ballet slippers.
Oh, weight loss is a feat to be proud of whether it was 2 pounds or 402 pounds, but we are not 1) savers and protectors of the world, healers of sick and down trodden or 2) sad souls who lost our way along with our weight.
Yes, we’ve seen people make mean puffer fish “fat” faces in reference to our heft, we’ve had nasty comments thrown our way and we’ve been frustrated at the limited clothing styles that many plus-sizes carry. We’ve cried while consuming an entire box of crackers, we’ve laughed while eating a tub of family sized popcorn at the theater. We’ve rolled our eyes at doctors’ suggestion to lower our weight and therefore, our risk of health problems. Blah. Blah.
And now, we are not in that world. We’re quite happy to not be there anymore, so sometimes, questions that force us to go back to a place and time we’d rather forget doesn’t quite give us a case of warm and fuzzies.
10. You’re so pulled together now.
Akin to the “you’re pretty now” comment, this one makes you feel like you were roaming the earth in a state of bleary eyed disarray with less direction in life than Charlie Sheen. But now, you’ve lost 20 pounds and you’re all toss-your-hat-in-the-air Mary Tyler Moore with your bad self.
Funny how people view you when you change physically. You were always hardworking, talking in perfectly timed “close the loop,” “make it happen,” and “I’m on it” Orwell-Corporate speak. I suppose the thinner version makes people think you mean it more . . .
Unless, of course, you really are dying in which case you might as well have that second dish of ice cream and tell everyone all they wanted to know about your toenail clipping collection but were afraid to ask.
You know, just to keep everyone in the loop.
©Copyright 2011-2012, Jennifer Lilley, FlabbyRoad.com and Flabby Road: Moving on & Leaving the Elastic Waistbands Behind. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Lilley and Flabby Road with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Jennifer Lea Reynolds
Jennifer Lea Reynolds is a weight loss success story who enjoys living a healthy lifestyle. A fan of the elliptical, roasted asparagus and remembering to put the lid on the blender, she’s appeared in many national and local print publications. She lives in New England where she writes professionally about health and wellness in online publications including U.S. News & World Report, Reader's Digest, Woman's Day, The Huffington Post, and more.