Thanks to reader Su for the topic suggestion. Oh this is a tricky. Let’s examine two scenarios: You are interacting with someone who has lost weight, and someone is talking to you about your weight loss (either real or perceived)
You are interacting with someone who has lost weight
I suggest that you resist, with conviction, the urge to tell them how good they look now – it sounds like you are saying that they looked bad before. It’s no secret that our culture thinks that thin=beautiful.
While they are probably really proud of themselves, I know that there is a 95% chance that they are going to gain the weight back. For that reason I try to comment in a way that will lessen the self-esteem hit if they end up in the majority.
If they don’t bring up the weight loss I don’t bring it up. Weight loss isn’t always welcome – it can be from medical issues, medication, stress, grieving etc. and I don’t want to bring up something painful. Plus this conversation is awkward enough, I’m not going to go through it if I don’t have to.
If they bring up weight loss what I tend to say is:
“Was weight loss your goal?” because I think it’s important to be clear that weight loss isn’t everyone’s goal. If they say yes I say, “You have always been beautiful/handsome. You still are, and I’m glad that you are happy .”
If someone mentions your weight loss:
I don’t know about you but I’ve had people do this as a passive aggressive way of pointing out that I haven’t lost weight. So I cheerfully answer “Nope, thank goodness!”
If they are commenting on weight I’ve lost because i was sick I say “Yeah, I’ve been sick – I’m expecting to be back to my fighting weight soon!”
If you have lost weight intentionally and you want to support size acceptance it would be awesome if you said something like “Yes, I have lost weight. I know only 5% of people succeed in the long term and I’m hoping I’m in that 5%.” or “Yes, I chose to lose weigh but I don’t want anybody to think that I believe it is the path for everyone.” It would also be fantastic if you would point out and negate any attempts to make it seem like you are better than fat people who are still fat. It’s totally fine to choose weight loss for yourself (as you are the boss of your underpants), it’s totally not cool to use weight loss as a barometer for personal worth, good treatment, or social acceptance.
I look forward to living in a world where bodies of all sizes and shapes are completely accepted. But until that time we need to be mindful how we talk about these things.
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