I ran into a sometime acquaintance at exactly the type of function in which you’re likely to run into sometime acquaintances. It had been about a year since I’d seen her last, and she said, “Wow, you’ve really kept your weight off.”
And I nodded.
And she nodded.
“Yeah.” I said.
I started to say, “Thanks,” but wondered why I would thank her for noticing that. Thanks for noticing that I didn’t put the weight back on? And I couldn’t think of a thing to say to her after that. And she couldn’t think of a thing to say to me.
So that was awkward.
Yesterday, I said “Way to go. You look great,” to a guy I see fairly often, who lost more than 160 lbs. And he said, “Yeah, you like that, huh?” in a tone that acknowledged that clearly appearances were important to me, but it wasn’t really my business.
Of course he was right, so I proceeded to make it my business by telling him I’d lost a lot of weight too, to show him that I understand how hard it is. His face broke. He asked me how long it took me to lose my weight. We discussed that, and then he right away admitted that he’d gained 5 lbs. back. I know, I said. It’s hard. We can talk about this together, but neither of us likes to discuss it with not-fat folks.
I don’t know what to say to people. And I don’t know what people should say to me. Sometimes I wish my weight wasn’t an issue for anyone. Sometimes I’m offended when people behave as if nothing’s changed, when in fact I’m not recognizeable to people who have known me for years. Some people don’t want to ask me about the weight loss, because they don’t know if I lost the weight through illness, or they just believe, as most people did at one time, that it’s impolite to comment on the state of someone’s body.
Despite writing about it and thinking about it every day, I don’t want to be “about” weight loss and fitness. I don’t want to have any conversation that might feed the prejudice people have against weight. I don’t want folks to tell me how wonderful I look in a tone that suggests it matters how I look, or that I’ve somehow discovered a new morality or secret or truth. I don’t want to be special for losing weight. Or do I?
I don’t want my friends to ignore my hard work either. And I don’t want to ignore their good will, and their happiness for me.
And the troubles I cause for my poor husband, who still, more than 100 lbs. later, has to come up with something to say when I ask whether my butt looks big in these pants.
So, the fact is, I put people in an awkward, impossible place. And I’m in an impossible place myself. And I can be just impossible. Cranky, expectant, disappointed, offended. I’m mad at the oglers and mad at the ones who don’t ogle.
I can’t think what to do other than avoid the weight loss discussion with anyone who isn’t also struggling. I’m too tired right now to try to find a “correct” way to think about, talk about, communicate about massive weight loss with anyone who hasn’t tried it. I can’t suggest an etiquette, because I don’t know what I want. I also don’t want to lose my sense of humor over it.
So, I am trying a new technique. I don’t know if it’s a good idea or not. As soon as someone greets me with a comment about my weight, I’m going to fire back, quickly, “Hey you’re looking wonderful yourself. What are you doing differently? Working out more? Did you change your hair? New glasses, what is it?”
The gentle art of deflection.
I’m not sure if it will work, but it might buy me enough time to think of a different subject altogether.
How about those Dodgers?
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