Monday, July 21, 2008

A couple of people have made comments to me lately that have REALLY annoyed me. I'm trying to figure out why, but I'm having difficulty coming up with anything insightful. A woman who brings her grandson to storytime gushed in a loud voice, "Susan! How much have you lost?!?" When I looked at her blankly, she said, "How much weight have you lost? I LOT since last summer!" I said awkwardly, "Well, I don't weigh myself much but no, I'm pretty sure I haven't lost any." She proceeded to argue with me, finally ending with, "Well, you look great anyway." Then last week a coworker was passing me and made sort of an up and down motion with her hands, saying "You're losing weight again. I can tell." I answered, "No, I'm pretty sure I haven't". She also argued with me.

After both of these encounters, I felt vaguely squirmy and dirty. Do I not like attention drawn to the fact that I had gained weight, needed to lose weight, or am overweight? I do definitely feel that it is intrusive to comment on someone else's body, but I also realize that society is obsessed with weight and weight loss or gain. All you have to do is stand in line at the grocery store to realize that people delight in reading "I lost 100 pounds!" stories -- myself included. Judging by the trashier magazines, people also delight in reading about famous people who are caught looking fat, wrinkly, or dimpled by cellulite. I guess I wish I had the guts to say to people, "I know you mean well, but I find your comment very inappropriate". I can just imagine the look I'd get.

My list of reasons I want to be healthy is very short. I suppose that's okay, as long as it's sincere. I'll post it later, but right now I have to go put some clothes on. I took the day off work to spend with my family. We were headed to a local water park, but R fell off her bike last night and skinned her knee, elbow, and hand. So we are all going to play a round of golf together. The annual family golf tournament (I think it might be number 84!) is next Sunday and we need some practice.


Emma said...

Could you consider that because you are taking care of yourself, and perhaps feeling better about yourself, because you are working on yourself. You could be looking better regardless of your weight. Try to hear the compliment. What they are really saying is " You look nice today, Is something different?" And the answer would be I am working on being healthier.

I agree that commenting on people's body size is vaguely rude. So I try not to do it myself. But it's hard not to do. I generally think people look great. i'm sure you look great too. Even though I only know you personally. I try not to comment much about it. I go out on the edge sometimes and tell people about spark. It's a risk. But sometimes I get 10 points for taking the risk.


Isabelle said...

Emma is very probably right, but I do know what you mean. People tell me from time to time that I've lost weight (when I haven't) and it just makes me think
a)gosh, how fat did you think I was before?
b)so you're saying I need to lose weight?

Emma said...

That's exactly it. We take it badly because we aren't listening to the intention. People don't mean to mess you up. That's not what they are trying to do. They are trying to build you up no matter how ham handedly they are doing so. By giving them the benefit of the doubt (they are not TRYING to insult me) you can take the gentler interpretation which is better for you and them.


Cilly said...

I can understand the intrusiveness of the comment "you've lost weight!"... because I am getting that comment lately too.... and I, like you feel uncomfortable when someone points it out.

But for me, I think its an internal thing more than anything else. I dont want to be complimented for losing weight, (or even looking like i have, because like you, I dont weigh myself, and I dont think I've lost alot of weight either) because I dont want to start craving the praise and attention, thus falling back into the "diet trap"

I simply say "ya, I have lost a few because I am practicing extreme self care, and making healthy choices for myself"

Or, sometimes I retort back "yes, I lost 180#'s and took half his stuff..." (refering to my divorce)... and laugh it off.

coyote said...

I know, trust me, I know exactly how you feel. My practiced response to this oblivious inappropriateness: 1) Remind self that these people mean well and that their comments come from a good place. 2) Reply in an intimate, confidential tone, “Oh, I don’t discuss my health outside my family. But thank you.”

They may leave with the impression that you have a health condition not suitable for casual conversation…but I see at as win-win because: the uncomfortable-ness shifts back to them when it dawns on them that they’re coming off as nosey; they tend to remember this reply; and usually will not ask again.

~C~ said...

People are nuts, really. I think there are so many people in this world that really just have no idea that the things they do and say are rude. There should be a class in school about things you shouldn't say to people.

Sharon said...

You address good points there! Weight shouldn't be emphasized at all. Society is estatic if someone loses weight, but when one gains, it is the complete opposite. Why should weight define a person? Being healthy is all that matters.