“'People won’t stop telling me I look healthy,' I complained to my friend Mary. She laughed. 'Those assholes.'"
health, weight loss, sarah hepola
People will always say horrible things to others about appearance and weight. Always. Horrible.
Things I don't know how to deal with:
Statements intended as compliments which I find problematic and/or offensive
e.g. of course, the good ol "have you lost weight?" worst offender is my grandma, I've even tried to have a conversation with her about it, being all "hypothetical example of somebody with an eating disorder, for the first x pounds they lose people are going to be complimenting them and reinforcing disordered thinking and that's really bad"
the other one that annoys me is "you're just like one of the guys" "you're like a guy with girl parts!" "you're like a ladybro"
@redheaded&crazie My Grandmother veered the opposite direction with 'You've gotten so FAT!', sometimes accompanied by a squeeze of thigh/cheek. Four year old me was horrified, but twelve year old me wanted to crawl into a hole.
ETA: To her fat=healthy/beautiful as she grew up both poor and skinny, so I assume it was more of a 'Your parents are feeding you!' than 'You horrible beast!'
@redheaded&crazie What if they're really into guys with girl parts?
@mascarasnake My grandmother used to tell me I was fat when I was about eight. (I have seen photos of her from when my dad was a kid. She doesn't have room to talk.) My grandfather was the one who took her aside and told her to knock it off because I was EIGHT YEARS OLD. Thanks, Pepere. If that had continued into my teen years...
Arggh at that second one! On one hand, I'm so glad we're bonding, on the other hand, you are strongly reminding me of people who "don't see color"!
@Bus Driver Stu Benedict they will be terribly disappointed, as I am a girl, with girl parts, and "girl" interests. And also "guy" interests. I guess?
@Inkcrafter I know it's so reductive. I get that it's meant as a compliment. That's what makes it so hard to call out. (at least for me)
I also realize it's somewhat off topic. sorry folks
@redheaded&crazie It's always about you, isn't it.
@Bus Driver Stu Benedict
You got a PROBLEM WITH THAT
@Inkcrafter I haven't decided yet...
@Bus Driver Stu Benedict aw sorry dude! My narcissistic personality disorder often interferes with my ability to interact with others functionally.
I would love to hear more about your interest in guys with girl parts.
@redheaded&crazie So what you're saying is that you're a tall, leggy blonde who smokes cigars?
@jen325 I love how you just get me! :')
@redheaded&crazie This really isn't the place for that kind of thing.
@Bus Driver Stu Benedict oh I dunno I thought this was a safe space for all kinds of things!
Or at any rate I use it inappropriately as such. I guess that's how everything ends up being all about me!
@redheaded&crazie Yeah, I find things like "you've lost weight!" intended as a compliment really difficult to deal with. I don't want to be rude, and I am actually pleased to be told that, but I think the inherent assumption that any woman would be pleased to be told she's lost weight because thinner automatically equals better is immensely problematic. And I don't want to reinforce that idea by responding to it as a compliment. My preferred option is to say "oh, really?" and then change the subject, but it's tricky.
@redheaded&crazie I personally wish the boys I'm into would stop calling me "dude". Although the worst so far has been when someone called me "broslam". That is not what you address a lady you made out with one time on NYE. You lose all ability to call me "bro" once your tongue has been in my mouth.
@redheaded&crazie Yeah, my gramma does this. 'You look good, have you lost weight?' My stock reply is 'no, I just look happy because of all the chocolate' but that also sort of buys into the 'I'm fat because: chocolate' thing. I mean, that's partly true, but mostly I'm just fat. Actually, the most times I ever got a 'have you lost weight?!' was when I went UP a dress size. No idea what that was about? Passive aggression?
I HATE the 'one of the guys' thing. It's like saying 'wow! You're a lady person, but also an actual human being! I never knew ladies could be human beings!!'
@Craftastrophies haha you got it. "I never knew ladies could be human beings"
sigh. i guess ... at least ... they're learning?
@redheaded&crazie One ladybro at a time....
@Craftastrophies "I never knew ladies could be human beings!!"
YES. Though sometimes I take it to mean "I'm so completely unattracted to you I can relate to you like I would a guy."
I have spent a lifetime hoping no one noticed my weight, and so it is a special terror that everyone now does.
I totally get this line! I didn't know other people felt this way.
@SarahP Also I didn't know that other people also didn't want to become--but did become--someone who cries easily and who shows other people pictures of her cats. Sarah Hepola, I am you.
@SarahP I lost a lot of weight after separating from my husband. People remarked about how great I looked, how healthy and happy I looked. But I felt like a phony because, although I was happy, I'd only lost weight because of Wellbutrin. It sped up my metabolism and reduced my appetite so much that I would have to consciously remind myself to eat. Once I went off it my weight inched back up to normal, and now I feel worse about it because losing the weight made me realize how much people noticed it. I can relate to so much of that piece.
@jen325 About five years ago I went down three dress sizes just... because? For absolutely no reason that I can tell. I did not change my diet or exercise regime, I just shed kilos like woah. Maybe something with my hormones, or something? A few years after that I was actually much fitter, but also fatter. It was such a weird thing, being reinforced for something I had literally no control over. I hadn't been much invested in the initial weight loss, except for 'argh, now I need new clothes, but hey, I can buy thin people clothes, which are cheaper and more plentiful!' but I got super self conscious about it after a while - like, if you are saying I look great now, does that mean you thought I looked awful before?
@Craftastrophies "...if you are saying I look great now, does that mean you thought I looked awful before?"
That is EXACTLY why I'm so ambivalent about compliments like this. Especially times like now, when I'm gained weight back that I lost. Because I feel like all those people who told me I looked great before think I look terrible now. Because they certainly don't compliment my body anymore.
That's so strange that you went down three dress sizes for no apparent reason. Don't you wish you know why? I mean, if you want to lose weight and you accidentally discover an easy way to do it, it would be nice to be able to replicate it. Bodies are weird.
@jen325 Well, I'd like to know mostly because it made it a lot easier to maintain a healthy body - it's easier to do yoga when your boobs don't get in the way, easier to go for walks when you're carrying less weight around, etc. And my sore neck improved, because less boob weight to drag around!
(I am having a resent-my-boobs-day. I went for a walk again last night and my body is feeling goood, except that my neck and chest is being dragged down by massive, useless weights. And, thanks to hormones, they're oversensitive! WHY can't I just pack them away in a closet for a day?)
@Craftastrophies Oh man, I have the exact same boob problems. My boyfriend's mom is a chiropractor and he's learned a lot about bones and musculature from her. He gives me massages a lot and is always amazed at how I'm fairly delicate everywhere except my neck, shoulders, and upper back, which are as rock solid as a male athlete's would be.
And yeah, walking would be much easier with less weight. I've got bad knees, and when I lost 30 pounds walking got a lot easier. Also, boob-bouncing aggravates my costochondritis, which means that walking, one of the lowest impact exercises, causes stabbing chest pain.
Edit: Actually, now that I read the wikipedia page about costochondritis (which was diagnosed way back when I was 18), my symptoms are much more like Tietze syndrome instead, which is worse. Also kind of funny because Tietze/teats.
@jen325 Man, boobs are the WORST. Good thing they're also the best, because seriously. Also, good thing I am never planning on being pregnant, those things are almost bigger than my head already, can you imagine? Redonk.
I have linebacker neck, too. This means that necklaces are often too small. I'm. Too. Fat. For. Necklaces.
@Craftastrophies Yikes, yours are a lot bigger than mine (unless you have a really small head, but yours appears quite normal in your profile pic, so)! I have a lot of pain from mine; I can only IMAGINE how much pain yours cause.
My boobs got HUGE and very sore (worse than PMS soreness) when I was pregnant, and I wasn't even very far along! It's definitely a good thing you're never planning on being pregnant (me either).
@jen325 Actually, I have a slightly large head. I was exaggerating, I guess - they're probably almost as big as my head, combined. But some days they FEEL bigger than my head.
And today is shark day, right on cue. Complete with psycho shower scene this morning (I was quite pleased with managing not to get any carnage on the floor in my horrified morning dash/hop. It's a life skill, that one.
@Craftastrophies It is a life skill! And one that I think we never really master. Stupid me decided to buy a yellow bath mat and towels, so at least once a month I find myself frantically rinsing blood out of one or the other. Congrats to you for keeping it clean!
I'm really glad your boobs aren't individually as big as your head. I've seen women with those proportions, and I have no idea how they do anything.
Remember, we're under no obligation to engage or respond to such remarks. The best thing about getting older is caring less and less and less and less about what other people think and say. If you can, just laugh at them. If can't laugh, smile mysteriously and move on.
@atipofthehat YES. I so wish I could go back to my younger self and tell her how awesome it would be to truly stop giving such a reactionary fuck all. the. time. and learn the mental and physical mysterious-smile-and-move-on technique.
For me, it's always the context and the unsolicitedness of it, rather than the often innocuous wording (excluded from this: the specific aggressive "How Did You Do It"). There's something so specifically off-putting when one gets the unexpected pleasure of discovering all the people who were holding their tongues, like if you don't have something nice to say, wait until someone loses 35 pounds and then say it weird?
@Eliza Wharton It's like waiting until someone dumps their terrible boyfriend and then saying you never thought he was good enough. Thanks, but now I know that you were judging me all the time?
I never know what to say to someone who has lost weight, so I generally don't say anything. But some people seem to want encouragement? If you've posted something about losing 5 pounds on facebook presumably you would want me to hit "like"? Or if you've just said something about going clothes shopping because you fit into a new size you would want me to say "good work" or something?
@bangs the catch-22! if you've put effort into losing weight, it is nice to hear compliments that reward your effort! argh argh argh
@bangs Those comments wouldn't bother me! I think that if someone is taking the time to point out their weight loss, they may be looking for some feedback. It's more the unsolicited "OH MY GOD YOU HAVE LOST SO MUCH WEIGHT you finally look human!" comments that are terrible. At least, that is my feelings on the matter.
@hot dog princess Yes, there is really no way to win, though. On one hand, I find it heartwarming that I have friends who honestly do not care what I weigh, and would never say anything about it either way. On the other hand, I recently lost 20 pounds, and was kind of like, "come on, didn't anyone freakin' notice?? Am I still so huge that people think it made no difference at all?" Basically I will find a way to feel bad about anything that anyone says or doesn't say, always.
@redheaded&crazie Totally a Catch-22! I bloated up when I had to move back home after grad school last year (and got depressed about it) and I've finally started taking it back off. I feel better and think I looked healthier, but no one's noticing! Not even my /mom/, who always notices such things.
@WaityKatie Basically I will find a way to feel bad about anything that anyone says or doesn't say, always.
Aaaaahhhhhh, yes, me too, and it's such a problem. Today my coworker said I did a good job a few times, and my first thought was "She feels bad for me and thinks I need the encouragement." (I do! Thanks, lady!)
@bangs I really think that you have to take your cues from the people/person who lost the weight. Like, broadly I am anti-diet, pro-loving your body but I am totally happy to be thrilled for my friends if they're really proud of their accomplishments (particularly if said accomplishments are more in the realm of "health" than "weight," because you know, one of these things is wrapped up in way more gross social messages than the other). On the other hand, I recently lost a bunch of weight, and while I'm pretty happy with how I'm doing now, not all of that weight was lost in the healthiest way (major ED relapse during a depressive episode) and I'm not super eager to talk about it. Then, this past winter, some mother of a friend cornered me at a party and was like, "You lost weight! You look great now!" And when I demurred, she kept pushing it. And that, to me, is rude and intrusive and crosses a line. If someone brings it up, or is keen to talk about it, by all means be supportive. Otherwise, STFU. Also, most weight loss is not sustainable long-term. So I'm super wary of saying anything that's going to stick around if the person in question gains the weight back and make them feel awful about themselves.
I completely endorse your distinction between "health" and "weight." Eating healthier food can make an amazing difference in how a person thinks, feels, and behaves; losing weight could mean a serious illness. (I have heard those kinds of comments made to someone who was dead within a couple of months.)
And what is it with people who obsessively keep on about any topic long after one has indicated a reluctance to speak of it verging on physical pain?
I think the appropriate response is to give 'em the old Law & Order:
"Am I under arrest?"
"Oh. So, I'm free to go? In that case...." [EXIT]
@all oh my god this thread. I always have such trouble figuring out what to say to people who I KNOW have made an effort to lose or gain weight or change their appearance. I had a friend in high school who was anorexic and constantly received compliments on the order of, "Wow, GREAT legs!" and "You look AMAZING" etc. I tend to offer a fist bump and a congratulations only if someone makes a point of telling me about some lifestyle change milestone or goal or something. BUT EVERYONE ELSE IS FINE WITH JUMPING RIGHT INTO "DAMN, YOUR THIGHS ARE NOTHING! LOOK AT YOU!" (actually said to me after I'd been uncontrollably losing weight for two years, thanks to a long string of illnesses) My family says such offensive shit...
@Third Wave Housewife Yeah, I had a friend who lost a bunch of weight because of chronic illness, and it was really upsetting for her to be told that she looked 'great' when she was skeletal, and then to not get any compliments when she started to get healthier.
I tend to try and turn diet convos into health convos. Like, I ask if they are feeling good, have more energy, etc. I am 100% happy to talk about that with people, and be happy for them when they have achieved a thing that is making them happy - even if that's weightloss. I just don't feel good entering into conversations in which the subtext is that fat people are gross, thank goodness that I have seen the light, subtle pity for craftie, who is still a fat person. But we can talk about how great salad and fruit and exercise is, all day! And how doing hard things that make you feel good is worth it! And how hard it is to buy fat clothes/bras! And how satisfying it is to be able to walk around in the world without random people judging you for how your body looks! Those are all favourite subjects of mine.
SO many loaded statements/compliments when it comes to weight. It's tricky.
When I was in high school/early college and had been struggling with anxiety and eating disorder-y stuff (= way underweight, super pale, etc.) and was starting to get healthier and gain weight, people would always say "You look GREAT!" as a weird blanket compliment, rather than saying "oh you don't look tired and sick and sad" or whatever.
So in my over-analytical mind back then, "great" = "fat" and now, as a well-adjusted, fit/healthy adult, whenever someone tells me I look "great" in my head I still think "OMG they are saying I look fat, this is awful." even though I know it's completely irrational. These things can dig deep. Ugh.
I just try to never comment on anyone's weight, ever. I don't think it's my place. (But sometimes do tell people they look great for whatever reason - new haircut, awesome jeans, cool makeup, etc - and I really just do mean that they look great!)
@emilylouise Yup. I do not comment on weight ever.
And I have a No Negative Body Or Food Talk About Anyone Including Yourself Ever in my house. Just not allowed. I instituted that policy after hearing the most awful, self-loathing, other people judging conversation at a party, and made the interlocuters take it on the porch.
There is no way I am tolerating an atmosphere that makes a hard thing harder.
My reputation has become such that my friends will stop new acquaintances when they get going with "don't let Pistol Packin' Mama hear you."
I live in a much pleasanter world now.
@PistolPackinMama I am completely on board with "No Negative Body Talk" because everybody does it and it just permeates everything! Like it doesn't even matter what your weight is, it's like people feel obligated to talk about their worst features (in casual conversation no less)! When I weighed more, my skinnier friends would say things like "oh I'm so fat today" and it's like if you think that about yourself, what are you thinking about me?! And I just, no.
I don't have a specific rule (although I may start - I would like to develop such a reputation) but I shut that shit down when it starts up.
@redheaded&crazie To two women with eating disorders in my car, who were doing the I'M SO FAT ARGH talk, I was nearly brutal. When one said "I felt nearly too fat to leave the house today" I just said "If I never left the house on account of fat, I would live in purdah. This is ridiculous and you need to stop it." Thank god, they shut up.
Her ex, who is a friend, gave me a minor lecture on "EDs are a mental illness blah blah" and I snapped. I mean, it's also poisonous, toxic misogyny. And how does anyone know I haven't got an ED even if I am fat? It happens! And if I did (I don't), I would have to stick up for myself, because no one else would do it for me.
On behalf of all the fat disordered eaters out there, and for my own mental health, I will not have it. I am All Done with denigrating myself to make thin women feel better. Even thin women with eating disorders.
@PistolPackinMama The thing that gets me about the article though, is that she mentions those, "oh I love your hair/shoes/dress!" compliments as something she used to get when she was unhappy with her body? It made me sad to read because my entire m.o. is to just compliment everyone on their clothes, hair, and other stuff I figure they are doing "on purpose". Now I'm wondering if people take my compliments as an awkward way to avoid talking about their bodies.
@redheaded&crazie What are you supposed to do with people that insist on being unbearably self-depricating - for example, my friend's wife who has referred to herself as "dumpy" and "a brood cow" and "disgusting". I don't say anything because I know we're all supposed to do the "Oh no you're beautiful and skinny!" thing but mostly, I'm just not interested in engaging in that dialogue.
@Emmanuelle Cunt Urgh, me too. Now all compliments will be fraught with my own internal angst.
@PistolPackinMama Fat disordered eater here! It sucks! A lot! I think I have to stop reading these comments before I start crying at my desk!
@PistolPackinMama Word. EDs are totally disordered thinking, I mean undeniably. BUT where does that disordered thinking come from and what reinforces it? Society of course! and our families. and our friends. unintentionally or intentionally.
So what, because something is a mental illness we should tiptoe around it and not say anything? Or we should pander to it? Uh, no.
@PistolPackinMama I've had disordered eating tendencies and I am perfectly aware that doesn't give me the right to spew my negative self-talk all over other people. Now obviously that requires a certain amount of self-awareness that I was not always lucky enough to have, but it's not the case that people with eating disorders just have NO CHOICE but to externalize our feelings about ourselves!
@Emmanuelle Cunt I know... and I think that is why I really snapped. Agh, I mean, I don't like nipping at people. It doesn't make me happy. But I can't deal with it, either. And I want people to be able to talk about things that are important in a safe way, you know? Not in a deluge of dangerous reenforcement.
It's a journey, and we all get through it as best we can, and sometimes, the best we can is still pretty rough.
Somehow, I feel like there is a terrible divide and conquer going on here.
@anachronistique: Oh, I want to hug you. I mean, I hope you quit reading if you needed to, and aren't crying. But I also want to hug you, because it does suck. I am sorry. :(
@PistolPackinMama I think there is certainly a bit of divide and conquer going on, particularly if you have people (going to generalize here...) who are looking at eating as a form of control - there's almost certainly going to be an element of competition in that conversation (imagining the two women in your car) - each is striving to be the best at what they're doing, and in that case, what they're doing is not eating.
@PistolPackinMama And I have a No Negative Body Or Food Talk About Anyone Including Yourself Ever in my house. Just not allowed. I instituted that policy after hearing the most awful, self-loathing, other people judging conversation at a party, and made the interlocuters take it on the porch.
You are a saint and a badass. I will be instituting this policy in my house as well.
@redheaded&crazie Yes, this. Even when I am feeling bad about my body, I try to keep it to myself because I really don't want my loved ones hearing me and thinking I have the same criteria for them.
It's easy to think you can get away with being hard on yourself while not buying into the fat shame (or any shame) when you deal with others. But I find that accepting those thoughts in my head, even though I know they're wrong-- both incorrect and immoral-- really poisons my thoughts about other people too. Better to let them go.
@PistolPackinMama Also, just to add another layer to this train of thought...in the US at least, being thin/looking athletic and/or "healthly" is often correlated (in people's minds) with being well-off. When you have a society where a certain class of people can afford Pilates class and Whole Foods, and another class of people are working two jobs and eating dinner they picked up at 7-11, there's a whole 'nother twisted correlation between "thin" and "desirable."
@parallel-lines That is the worst! It's such an awkward situation because you know they're fishing for compliments, but I refuse to be sucked in by that kind of thing. My husband will give them a long talk about how poisonous negative language is.
@Ophelia Yes yes yes yes YEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSS. Eating healthfully frequently requires time, money, or both.
@PistolPackinMama This is so, so perfect. I used to have this policy, and was very vocal about it, but lately have been letting my own shit get in the way of calling that kind of thing out. No more!
Re: folks with ED: I have a relative who has struggled with anorexia for years. When she's in her most active phase of the disease, she talks about fat people constantly, in a massively deprecating way. It's horrible to witness, and it's incredibly hurtful, and I've never really known how to handle it because I know that it IS her disorder talking. This has really clarified things for me. So, thank you, m'am.
@AniaGosia I used to be harsh on people fishing for compliments, but then I realized, "Wow, they must really need those compliments. Because this is a weird, humiliating, ultimately unsatisfying way to go about feeling good about yourself." So I just toss them a freebie. Here ya go, buddy. Hope this helps.
@AniaGosia I hope my obvious discomfort and refusal to engage is clear enough because saying something might make the person feel even worse about themselves? I don't know...
@AniaGosia Which is not to say, "Oh, look at me, giving insecure people compliments while waiting for my Nobel Peace Prize." I just realized that what I loathed about their obvious neediness was that they were doing something I never would allow myself to do, which is to be so publicly needy, vulnerable, insecure. And I resented them for it. How dare they take so much!
So I decided to be nicer to them, and nicer to me, by not hating on them, and by directly asking for reassurance from the people that can lovingly give it to me. Maybe those people don't have loving people in their lives to lift them up when they're feeling like shit. I've found that usually they don't.
@parallel-lines I also struggle with the self-deprecation to get compliments thing, definitely in part for the same reason as @Passion Fruit where it's like, okay how much skin off my back is it to give you this compliment.
Thankfully I don't have a lot of people in my life who behave this way so it doesn't come up too often. Funnily enough it's a few of my guy friends who are like this more than my girl friends.
@PistolPackinMama I once kicked a friend out of my (dorm) room for weight related bullshit comments, and we are still friends. Now I don't have a problem shutting it down from anyone. It's for my mental health, but I think it can be helpful for them too. Like, this is not the only thing we can talk about at dinner. I think some people lose that.
Plus, you feel like such a badass. "We don't talk that kind of talk in this house." BAM.
@PistolPackinMama This is a really great idea. It's something I try to enforce as far as talking about other people or about me goes, but my roommate, who never makes comments about my body or habits but often talks about "needing" to go to the gym (in a moralish way, not a to-feel-good way) or about eating so many carbs/fat/whatever, is moving out next week, and I am kind of relieved, and am going to try to be more emphatic about no bad body talk in the house AT ALL rule, because try as I might, I've totally been internalizing that shit.* It also doesn't help that both my roommates are rail thin, while I'm a curvy lady who's gone up two dress sizes in the past two years.
*holy run-on sentence, Batman! Sorry about that.
@PistolPackinMama I appreciate the internet hugs! I'm also having a terrible day at work, so.
But yeah. I'm deathfat, I am this way thanks to my disordered eating/ED, I would have to dedicate my life to weight loss to reach an acceptable BMI, losing 40 pounds would not make much of a difference in how I look, and most days I'm a-okay with being fat, but this whole thing is like the confirmation of all my worst fears about other people secretly loathing me at once. GOOD TIMES.
@Emmanuelle Cunt Rest assured that we don't - we're all thinking how cool it is that someone thinks we look fab. Or at least, that's what the "I" part of "we" is (am?) thinking. I'd never assume that "Hey, that skirt looks awesome on you!" is code for "wow, your ass is a lot smaller than it used to be!"
@anachronistique Hah hah hahhhhhhhh... I have said to a stupid OKC question about fat and not working hard enough or something "if I were going to have my 23yo body back, it would be a full-time motherfucking job, yo. And unless someone is going to pay me 40k a year to work another 35 hours a week, it isn't going to happen.
@PistolPackinMama Yes! Thank you for saying this! I can't stand eating with ladies who talk about how much dressing they put on their salad. I understand the concern and sometimes I also freak out about my body image, but I try to keep it to myself — it can be so sinister. Because of being surrounded by this talk, in spite of my pro-food = pro-body philosophy, I've started to internalize it. Food negativity has so many unconscious consequences.
@chickaboom This comment reminds me of some book or another by Paula Danziger (I think it's There's a Bat in Bunk Five) where the main character, a girl in high school, spends the day looking in the mirror to see if passing up a brownie has made her skinny. It's a total tongue-in-cheek comment - even the character is making fun of herself - but it's so indicative of our preoccupation with both food and weight. In the long run going for a 30-minute walk every day would probably be far more beneficial (to both weight and health) than foregoing the blue cheese dressing.
@Xanthophyllippa oh shit you said the magic word and now i have to say WALKING IS THE BEST. Seriously. it's not just good for your physical health (although the most fit seniors I know all walk) it's also so so so good for your mental health!
<3 u walkies
@Xanthophyllippa @rh&c WALKING IS THE BEST. For serious! I normally have to drive 45 minutes each way to work but today I got to do research downtown, which is within walking distance of my house so I got to WALK TO WORK. And then WALK TO LUNCH. And then WALK TO THE LIBRARY. It was glorious, I don't want to get back in the car.
@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Hells yes! Walking is the best; I'm never leaving the city, simply because I can't imagine a life where I have to get into the car to run errands.
@Passion Fruit You're right, of course - its no big deal to just give the compliment. But I guess I hate being manipulated in such an obvious way. And if it's an "I'm so fat" thing, then it's doubly uncomfortable because I don't want to respond with the obvious "oh you're not fat at all" , as if being fat is some kind of a sin, you know? But I haven't had friends who do this kind of thing in a long time and back in high school I was doing it too. Thank goodness for getting older!
@Ophelia City life/walking is so great. As wonderful as living in the country is, that's one thing I really miss. I'm getting my bike fixed up right now though and I'm planning on doing errands by bike this summer - I'm only 5 miles from town, which is not that bad.
@PistolPackinMama I have a 'No negative self talk' rule in my house. This was instituted because when my partner gets tired, he starts saying he's stupid, etc, and it makes me RAGEY. I have been known to shout 'HEY! This is a NO NEGATIVE SELF TALK ZONE!' He's allowed to say that he DID something stupid, but not that he IS stupid/fat/ugly/whatever. Well, he's allowed to say he's fat, because he is, and I am, and we are both still sexy as hell, so there. Fat is not necessarily a negative. I don't have a roving zone, but most people know that if they start to talk about anything to do with weight or diet, it will end in a rant from me. So they shut it.
The worst is my mother, who will point out fat people on the street. And I'll be like... yes? And she'll say 'look how fat that person is!' with disgust on her face. It literally gives me panic attacks. I know it's coming from a place of self-hate, but it's really destructive. Frankly, the best thing I ever did for my own mental health/self esteem was to quit picking on other people's appearances. If I catch myself doing it, I make myself pick three things about that person that I can see that are great - she looks happy, I love her shoes, that colour is amazing on her. It makes my world nicer, and then I stop assuming that everyone is silently criticising me. They probably are, but whatever, it's nicer in my head.
Anachronistic I'm sorry :( I'm only a small fat, but I feel (some of) your pain. It just gets so overwhelming. When I was in recovery from having my wisdom teeth out, The Biggest Loser came on the tv, and I had to ask them to turn it off because MAN it was triggering. I just had one of those dismayed 'why do they hate me so much? What did I DO??' moments. Those are really, really hard.
@emilylouise I think it's a good rule to compliment people on stuff they have control over (as you said, hair/clothes/makeup).
And I have had "healthy" used as an condescending insult against me enough to have some similar issues with the word, so I feel you.
@AniaGosia I might respond to "I'm so fat" with "I think you look fine." It doesn't give them exactly what they're fishing for, and it doesn't reinforce the idea that fat is bad.
Ugh, I lost a bunch of weight in a very unhealthy way, once - depression, etc - and my cousin said to me, "Oh, you're beautiful! I always thought you were cute, but now you're beautiful." This sounds like backdoor bragging, but it made me CRAZY, and when I started eating again & gaining back weight, it was impossible to not feel like my one little window into being a beautiful person was closing forever, when I'd never placed that much value on my appearance before. It's still hard to shed it now that I'm back in my "cute" mode. So gross.
As a result, I try not to ever, ever remark on anyone's weight, under any circumstances. Maybe that's not ok, either, but I honestly don't know how to address it in a way that doesn't reinforce some really crappy social tropes. Kate Harding's way is the best thing I've heard through - I might try it.
@aphrabean YES, this kind of thing is maddening! When I first lost a lot of weight, one of the primary factors was that I was going through a long, drawn-out, wrenching break-up and completely lost my appetite. 30 lbs fell off without even trying, and I also wasn't sleeping and was miserable 24/7. (I've kept the weight off, but am fortunately in a much, much happier place now!) And people would see me and go, "DAAAAAAAMN! Lookin' good, girl!" and I'd be thinking, "Great. I've never felt worse, and that's when people think I look my best?"
@werewolfbarmitzvah solidarity, sisters. When I'm happy, I put on weight (as in, I weigh an appropriate amount for my frame), when I'm miserably stressed out, I drop it (just above underweight). People's reactions have created a strange situation in my head where I think I look like crap when I'm happy, and I think I look awesome when I feel like crawling into my bed and sleep for 3 years.
@aphrabean I also think it's time to claim beauty. Which sounds all airy fairy hippie granola. But I mean it! Other people do not have the right or inherent power to tell us we are or aren't beautiful. All those statements are "I think you are..."
I am better dressed and sparklier personalitied than many people I know. I am funny and have great shoes and fun, interesting, colorful well made, detailed clothes. I show off my foxy ankles and calves and terrific decolletage with impunity, have a really great dye job and haircut and wear good makeup. I make no apologies for having really, really good skin. When people make comments on it, I just have a serene "thank you face" and if they say something about their own skin, I reply that "yeah, that's a hard thing to struggle with, but I just think you're so beautiful/attractive, I forget it's a thing for you."
If people are going to limit "beauty" to "thin" they can play hide and go fuck yourself while I read the New Yorker.
@PistolPackinMama Also you are a kindred spirit and wise soul. ON TOP OF ALL THE REST! Seriously I love your perspective on everything. The world according to PistolPackinMama would be such a better place.
@redheaded&crazie I would love to be an Internet Perspective. You know, where people say things, and I send them a comment. Can't see how it would pay the bills, but it would be endlessly interesting to hear what people want to say to the world.
And thank you, I feel I am in good kindred spirit company around here. <3
@aphrabean I've had this experience too and it was the worst. I still get mad when I think about the guys I dated at the time who agreed (since I obviously wanted them to) that I shouldn't lose anymore, but definitely did not think I needed to gain any of it back. I was 5'3", maybe a size 8 before, and lost 13 lbs in a semester mostly by staying inside and napping/crying. There is no way I looked good and the rage, it still burns.
@PistolPackinMama Absolutely! I'm afraid I was using "beautiful" as shorthand for "conventionally attractive in a way that garners a very specific type of social approval" rather than actual beauty. "Hide and go fuck yourself" is perfect.
@werewolfbarmitzvah UGH I keep thinking of anecdata which supports your experience but it is too, too disheartening. Whenever I catch myself thinking longingly of those times where I've receive that particular, intoxicating, poisonous type of attention, I think, "Yeah, well, now you're not smoking or getting 80% of your calories from whiskey, and you can maintain a healthy and loving relationship, so I think you're winning, young lady."
@themmases Oh my GOD: I dated a guy who said my body was "perfect" when I was nearly suicidal, and broke up with me when I gained 10-15 pounds. He had a history of dating girls who were mentally ill - all frail, tiny little sick girls just out of their teens. The burning rage, I think it's important!
@aphrabean Ugh, that is such an awful comment. It's the type of half compliment, all insult that is subtle and wormy enough to get lodged in your mind, because it's like "My deepest suspicion! Confirmed!"
@PistolPackinMama "hide and go fuck yourself" is a game I will be encouraging many people to play in the future. And I reiterate the awesomeness of you as noted by other 'pinners.
@aphrabean Also, there's something ridiculous and infuriating about this hierarchy of beauty. Like, "Oh, she's cute, but not beautiful." Or, "She's beautiful, but not sexy." Or, " She's sexy, but not elegant." And on and on and on. You can switch the words out forever, like some gross permutation game by Satan, where the point is to make you 1) Compare yourself to others, 2) Compare yourself to some imaginary concept of cuteness/beauty/sexiness/blagh, 3) Never feel good about yourself.
You win, Satan, you win.
@PistolPackinMama I love the idea of claiming beauty the way you say it. I started keeping lists of things I like about my body, and (after a lot of retraining) it's becoming easier and easier to see those things in the mirror instead of the things I don't like. It feels weird at first, because you're not supposed to say nice things about yourself, but that's bullshit. As long as you're not making it a competition, like instead of "I love my hair," you say "My hair is better than hers," the only thing it does is make you a happier person.
@aphrabean I lost a fair amount of weight in a short time when my dad died. Actual friends never mentioned it because obviously they knew, but random people at work did and it sucked, because I didn't want to say 'gosh thanks for noticing', as I guess they were expecting, but I also didn't want to get into what had actually happened lest I burst into floods of tears in the microscope room or something.
@PistolPackinMama This. This this this. I remember being a baby fat, long before I learnt about size acceptance, back when I still hated my body and thought I was failing morally for being fat. I remember so clearly having the frustrated thought that fat = ugly and bad, no matter what else you look like.
I still struggle with it now. For instance, I can rock an outfit, but it won't look like it does on a thin person. Which means it doesn't look like it 'should' which means that people think it looks bad, or 'unflattering'. But I look amazing! Only, I don't look thin, so therefore, not amazing. And round and round and round.
And sometimes I don't look amazing, I look frumpy and grumpy, and that's fine too. I don't owe pretty to anyone, but I can be pretty when I want. It's hard to remember that, though.
@Craftastrophies Have you read Erin McKean's essay at A Dress A Day titled "you don't have to be pretty?" "Pretty is not a rent you pay to occupy a spot marked 'female.'" Word.
@PistolPackinMama YES. I had that printed out and stuck up next to my desk for a while. Those words really hit home for me. I don't HAVE to be pretty. I don't!
Did you ever read the comic 'Footrot Flats'. It's a NZ comic, you might not have ever heard of it. There's a girl in it called Pongo, she has that whole thing down pat. Might have to scan in some pertinent strips and upload them somewhere.
I can relate to a lot of the statements in this article. I spent all of childhood and adolescence not obese, but clearly quite chubby. Then, in my early 20s, I lost a lot of weight. I lost the weight by accident, but I kept it off intentionally. And people do notice, and people do make a wide range of odd remarks.
The foremost thing I've noticed in the years since losing the weight is that the way people treat me has changed immensely. Men are a thousand times nicer to me than they used to be, and not even in a sexual way. Just more polite, friendlier. And at first I used to feel really angry about that (because all of these men used to act like I was just a piece of furniture in the old days; they weren't necessarily rude, but I was totally invisible to them), but now I'm gradually getting used to it. While with women, it depends. Women who are my size or smaller are just as nice to me as men are, and as for small-sized women who I used to know back in my heavier days, they are the first to tell me, "YOU LOOK GREAT!" Not usually directly commenting on the weight thing, just telling me I look "great." Women who are noticeably heavier than me though......I've unfortunately noticed that these women often tend to be much, much colder to me than they used to be in the old days, or they'll make uncomfortable statements about their own weight in front of me and I have no idea how I'm supposed to respond. Overall, I guess it's a weird feeling to go from being completely invisible, to suddenly VERY VISIBLE. And I feel almost like it's an experiment, like I'm going undercover in a different body and seeing how differently people treat me.
@werewolfbarmitzvah This, this, a thousand times this. It's been nearly five years now since I lost a substantial amount of weight and I still occasionally get these weird flashes of awareness that a particular person is responding to me as a thin person. I wonder if folks who haven't lost weight have similar experiences.
@werewolfbarmitzvah YES, especially to the invisibility <--> visibility scale. If I don't reign it in, my thought process becomes, "Dang, well what if I had nicer hair? Was taller? With a smaller nose? Wore nice clothes? Was younger? Was not an ethnic minority/ was white/Caucasian?" And then I have to shut that shit down, because it's a recipe for hyperventilating in a closet.
@werewolfbarmitzvah Oh yes, yes to this. I went from being very thin, to gaining a bunch of weight, to losing it and becoming thinner again. The first time around, I never noticed the privilage of my thinness. I chalked most of the way that people responded to me to my being young, pretty, and above all, very cheerful in my interactions. After I gained weight, I noticed myself becoming invisible in a way. I was still super cheerful (although perhaps not as pretty, because I was a bit depressed and not as careful about my appearance) but I noticed the way in which I was treated differently by everyone from cashiers to men at bars. And now that the weight is off... I find people reacting to me as a thin person again.
And honestly, when I notice it now it just makes me mad? Like just irrationally mad?
@H.E. Ladypants THANK YOU for acknowledging that just "being nice" is not the key to making everyone love you all the time. I hate hate HATE when thin/pretty/young women assert this, and wish they could all read your comment. I'm sorry you had to go through that though, that really sucks. I have had a modified version of this, getting more attention when I weigh less, and have always wondered how much positivity I would get from the world if I were THIN-thin, instead of just kind of chubby-average at my lowest weight. But, my body type will probably never let that happen, and that is ok, I guess.
@everyone above - Yes. God yes. Living in a couple sizes, or across societal norms will really turn your head inside out. I thought I was unapproachable, scary, weird, ugly, etc. Turns out I didn't wear makeup, had a shaved head, wore thrift clothes, was a little heavier, etc.
So now all you motherfuckers are cool with me, huh? Gonna hold the door for the small corporate looking girl with the long hair? Fuck You. I AM NOT ONE OF YOU.
@no way I found this a bit when I dyed my hair blue. I've always been one degree of fat or another, so I've never 'read' as neutral. I guess with blue hair people knew how to read me? I got a lot more extreme positive and negative reactions, although part of that may be that I feel able to be friendlier when I look less normal? Like it's obvious I'm not one of them, I don't have to prove it. Same with my shaved head. Also, I get WAAAY less condescending 'help' in hardware stores with this hair.
@no way So now all you motherfuckers are cool with me, huh? Gonna hold the door for the small corporate looking girl with the long hair? Fuck You. I AM NOT ONE OF YOU.
Oh, SO much of this, exactly.
I may have teared up a bit reading that.
There is no way to find your way through all this weight crap easily, no matter what.
ALSO- It is not "most" diets fail. It's "the vast majority, at 95% over five years" fail. We are doing something wrong when it comes to food and weight in America.
And also also, evidently yo-yo weight is terrible for your health, too.
Well, now I'm depressed.
@anachronistique Me too, with a nice chaser of heart-pounding panic.
@Canard "Great, everybody IS thinking terrible things about me all the time! Good to have the confirmation on all the worst things my brain comes up with to self-sabotage!"
And I know that's not really the point, but that's how my brain is reading it, and I think I need a vodka-and-valium cocktail or something.
@anachronistique No, I think what's being said is "Everybody IS thinking terrible things about themselves (and, sure, maybe about you, but only as it relates to something that makes them insecure about themselves) all the time!"
It sucks to be someone's fear incarnate, which I know about as I am Good Girl Gone Fat to everyone that's known me for a long time. Buuuuuuuut reading these comments is bringing home how much of their own issues people are grappling with, even if I am being used as a trigger. It's about them and their thoughts, not me.
I hope that isn't annoying, because when I'm upset, what pisses me off even more is when people are like "Oh, come now, sweetheart, let's be rational about it. Just think about it this way blah blah blah." But I mean.... Just think about it this way. Haha. Sorry.
@Passion Fruit It's not annoying, and I get that it's not what's really being said. It's just that I found this way more... triggering, I guess, than I expected it to. Usually I can handle this stuff and be all Size Acceptance HAES Rah Rah Rah, but apparently not today. Which is my own deal!
@anachronistique Yeah, I mean, this is all stuff that people think about ourselves not about the other people around us. But at the same time it does affect everyone. I'm sorry that it's a shitty experience to read these things
@anachronistique Yeah, some days it's just too much effort, and the best option is to say, "Fuck it." and go do something that is comforting and easy. Like a puzzle. Or a FWB.
@Passion Fruit This is so, so insightful. Being human is hard work.
@anachronistique Preach it. I find Size Acceptance HAES Rah Rah Rah to be a rewarding but unbelievably precarious philosophy.
I dream about learning computer things purely so I can develop a Firefox add-on called Peace of Mind, which removes all talk of weight/dieting/body issues/etc from the user's entire Internet experience. No more people snotting in the comments of food blogs that they love their families too much to use that much butter. No more condescending advice: "It's SIMPLE MATH. If you burn more calories than you take in, you will lose weight." No more Facebook friends posting every goddamn day about how many calories they just burned at Zumba. Absolutely no more talk of bikini bodies, celebrity or otherwise.
@PistolPackinMama I might need this tattoed on me somewhere. For SERIOUS you are bringing it with the wisdom today.
I love HAES etc but you know what? Sometimes I really miss thin privilege. I wish I didn't have to spend extra energy thinking about it, I wish I could buy nice, cheap clothes, I wish I could go somewhere and just be NEUTRAL, not a fat lady dyke looking person. Just a person. A person in a normal body, who does not have to navigate other people's complex prejudices and expectations.
It's fucking exhausting.
This whole article was just spot on. Spot. On.
She talked towards the end about how she's amazed she managed to keep 40 pounds ON that whole time, since she felt so unhealthy. The other day I walked up my (several) flights of stairs to my apt carrying about 30 pounds of groceries, and what immediately struck me was, "2 years ago, this is how I walked up the stairs every time." I didn't quite have a "rip off my face" moment, but she's right - I didn't lose weight just "to be healthy" - I lost it because I wanted to look better.
The "being healthier" part has come by itself, and I'm glad about it, but I don't know that it would have been the thing that could motivate me as much as "I want my clothes to fit."
I hate that, in my own reference frame, that sounds so shallow, but that's really just what it IS for me. Urgh.
@Ophelia I dunno, I think (hope) that wanting to look better is a valid reason. Maybe I'm just justifying cuz I'm in a similar boat. But it's okay to do things that make you happy right? Shopping for clothes used to make me terribly terribly unhappy and stressed, and looking in the mirror too ... I don't know. I don't know!
@Ophelia There's nothing wrong with being motivated by wanting your clothes to fit! I'm broke so I really can't afford a new wardrobe of slightly larger clothes. Reasons for losing weight are always so much more complex than what can be seen from the outside, and the main thing to hold on to is you shouldn't feel shame for any reason you choose to lose weight (and any reason you choose to go about it). This is not a narrative that society wants women to hear though.
@redheaded&crazie I know, right? It's this weird thing where I don't want to accept the fact that our society has such rigid standards of beauty, so I shouldn't WANT to conform to them, but damn it, I want to look good, and those standards inform my standards, too (which is not to say I want to look like a Victoria's Secret model).
@GooooGrapefruit! Agreed. Also, when I read your name, I totally yelled it in my head.
@Ophelia In my experience, wanting my clothes to fit was enough to get me to lose weight and then the health part kept me at it. The "I want to wear this pencil skirt!" is just tangible enough to motivate me in a way that "I don't know, I feel maybe a little more tired than I did before and maybe I would feel better if I worked out?" does not. But then after the pencil skirt success, I was like "WAIT, now I can BOUND UP STAIRS and have energy all day!!" So, basically: The probably-superficial short-term goal gets me going, but I stick with it because the long-term goal motivation kicks in.
@Ophelia My take on this has always been that it's just easier to be thin and I can't begrudge people for deciding they just want to look better. I mean, really.
I have a recurring double chin and it's back now and I want to lose like 10 pounds so it'll go away again. [shrug]
@Ophelia Yeah, sometimes I hike with a 30lb pack and it really is a significant amount of extra weight to be putting on your joints.
@camanda Ugh, but why does looking better have to be thinner?! Rawr, oppressive standards of beauty, grrr!
@camanda Not growling at you specifically. Just feeling so frustrated and angry at the self destruction that that correlation inspires.
@redheaded&crazie I think it's really important to distinguish between whether it's bad that women (and men) as a whole are unhappy with the way they look (which I think most are, and I think that is a Bad Thing) and whether it's bad that an individual person is unhappy with the way he or she looks. Overall, we should be working for a society where people don't have to worry so much about how they look, but on a micro level, we should encourage people to do what's right for them. If that's looking pretty (however they feel that) then that's what they should be encouraged to do.
@Marika Pea@twitter Oh, I know. No offense taken! I said before somewhere that you unfortunately have to operate within the system, no matter how fucked-up it is.
@SarcasticFringehead Yeah, I think the trouble is when there's only one way to look or feel 'pretty'. Thing is, there's only so much each of us can do on an individual scale to battle that. And the fact of it is that thin people have privilege, and privilege is NICE. It's really really nice to not have to navigate that extra layer of judgement and difficulty, and it's nice to be able to buy nice clothes easily and to look how you want in them.
I think it's comparable to who you're attracted to. It's totally fine, for instance, to only be attracted to white women. If that's what does it for you, great! But you might need to examine that to see if you are not attracted to women of colour because you're being racist. You can't just say 'this is who I am attracted to, no black chicks!' and not admit that you live in a society that project certain things about people. If you've dealt with that, and you still mostly get hot for the pasty ladies, then carry on, just don't be a dick about it or say that only pasty ladies are objectively attractive. Likewise, if you've assessed how you look, and you wish you were a bit thinner, and you feel better when you are and it's achievable... great! Just don't forget that some people are fatter and that's fine too, and that there are social pressures on you to get thinner and stay that way.
A few years back I lost about 20 lbs on Weight Watchers (not a huge amount of weight for my frame, but definitely noticeable). While most people's comments were positive and nice and whatnot, the one that stuck with me the most (and still kind of bugs me) was from an acquaintance at a party who touched my arm and said "Are you healthy?" in this faux sympathetic way, implying that I was either gravely ill or hooked on coke.
@JG3 i've gotten "are you anorexic?" i died.
@JG3 At one point I went on a diet that mostly involved eating lots and lots of vegetables on the assumption that if I was full of vegetables I'd eat less cookies (results were mixed). One of the things I did was replace my normal sandwiches with large, elaborate salads. My first week of doing it, I got a couple negative "why are you doing this to yourself??" comments, as if eating a salad is a sign of intense self-hatred or something.
@MilesofMountains Gaaaahhhh I hate this! The whole idea that "you don't have to" order the salad, cook healthy meals, w/e if you are thin enough to be acceptable.
As if the good food/bad food dichotomy weren't messed up enough, it's adding a whole other dimension where bad food = reward and good food = punishment.
Pretty sure Foucault would have a field day with that shit.
@lighter fluid "you look like you're from a concentration camp." HA HA FUCK YOU.
@lighter fluid When I met a friend's fiance for the first time, she asked me if I had an eating disorder because I turned down cheesy fries and because she knew "a lot of Asian girls who do"!!
@JG3 I hope you fake-sneezed on her and then said no and walked away.
@JG3 I hope you excused yourself to go do a line in the bathroom. And asked her to join you, of course. No sense being rude to rudeness!
@lighter fluid Accusingly: "Are you eating?!" Accompanied by finger wagging: "You HAVE to eat" My boss is the best but oh wow that first week was........dear me (I passed out at work because hello ovarian cyst this month, nice to see you...she assumed it was because I hadn't eaten much in the four hours I was at work and as a tiny little lady, the concern trolling about whether or not I eat anything comes around way too often)
@Third Wave Housewife I have a friend who gets told 'eat a sandwich!' all the time. It makes me SO MAD. Her body is no one's business, concern trolls are awful, fat or thin.
I get told all the time that I am 'good' for having salad or home cooked, veggie-heavy meals. But they are delicious!
This one says it all: "Would you rather be fat & happy? Or thin & sad?" (Letter 3)
She is so right about the stupid hair salon mirrors, though, argh. I used to go to this sort of trendy salon in DC, and every time I was just like, "Ugh, I'm not even cool enough to be getting my hair cut in this place. Why are my clothes so ugly? Why is my face so fat? Why is my hair so horrible, arrrghhhh??"
@WaityKatie Srsly those mirrors. I often get a hair re-vamp ("Something edgier and funkier, maybe with a red streak?!!") and as soon as I sit in the chair and look in that mirror I think, "I am the most boring person and my face is chubby? Also ugh, my clothes! SNOOZEVILLE! I am not deserving of an awesome edgy haircut! ANGST!" But then I get it anyway, because salon mirrors lie.
@WaityKatie @dj pomegranate
People, it's just because of the harsh lighting in the salon that allows your stylist to get a good look at what they're doing to your hair! Plus since when is a horrifying salon bib anything but unbelievably unflattering
@Emmanuelle Cunt Ugh, yes. Every time I look in the mirror at a salon, all I see are VERY DARK CIRCLES under my eyes, and I kind of freak out? Even though I know I'll go home/outside to normal light and think, "oooh, I like this haircut, I look good!"
@Ophelia My incredibly mature solution to this is to make horrible grimaces at the salon mirror whenever nobody is looking.
@Emmanuelle Cunt (I also stick my belly all the way out when I'm trying on clothes in the dressing room, so I can giggle at my imperfections instead of freak out about them)
@dj pomegranate Oh, wow, I thought it was just me. I'd grimly brace myself for these "mirrors of truth". God DAMN, I am looking tired, worn out, moon faced and pock-marked. Since when did I take steriods? Shit.
Now I will just remind myself that this lighting was meant for precision haircuts, not truth seeing, and everyone feels like shit under them.
@Emmanuelle Cunt I specifically tend to up the ridiculous factor when I'm in places like Loehmann's that have communal changing rooms.
@Ophelia Hell is a Loehmann's changing room with salon lighting.
@Passion Fruit Oh...god. Unless we're all in there, making ridiculous faces in the mirror and telling each other that we really DO look good in that $15 rhinestone-covered dress*?
*I have absolutely no problem with $15 rhinestone covered dresses.
@Ophelia Yes! I would like weird, slathering compliments on my insecure parts, told to me in an overly swoony, British way: "Oh, Passion Fruit, your cellulite has never looked quite so... dimpled, your hair so tangled, your eyes so unhinged with delight, as it does, right now, in this communal changing room, with you in your $15 rhinestone covered dress. You are a vision."
@Passion Fruit "... A psychedelic vision. I am tripping balls; get me out of here.
@Ophelia I want to go shopping with you.
@Xanthophyllippa I am awesome, and pants are almost always too short on me, so there is much hilarity in shopping with me.
One time my very small (5' even) friend and I went shopping, and didn't realize we'd picked out the same pair of pants to try on. They came to my ankles, and came down past her feet. We came out to see in the mirror and the saleslady said, "Oh. Dear. I don't think I've ever seen those not fit so badly in 2 such different ways." If only they had had rhinestones, we would've been in business!
@Ophelia Wait -- are you my friend?? Because I'm 5' even and had almost that exact experience with the last person I went shopping with. Except the salesgirl just started laughing (in a good way).
@Xanthophyllippa Hah! That would be super-weird! Were you in a Banana Republic in Friendship Heights in DC?
@Emmanuelle Cunt My old hairdresser was amazing, and whoever did his lighting should get an award because I swear I have never looked better than in those mirrors.
Unfortunately his disapproved of my blue hair, and then I shaved it all off, so I haven't seen him for a while...
@Ophelia Alas, no. Apparently we have not actually met. :(
That piece is weird, though -- because so many people (me) can relate to it about weight, but she lost the weight in the context of quitting drinking AND smoking, so I bet she really did look healthier! And probably would have looked healthier regardless.
@Lily Rowan I've been thinking about that, too. She writes really well about people's reactions to weight loss, but in her case, the reactions might not all be about her weight loss.
@Lily Rowan Yeah, overall her friends sound way more sensitive than people were when I lost weight. I didn't get "You look healthy and happy!", I got "You've lost SO MUCH weight, I didn't even recognize you! You look like a totally different person!"
@paddlepickle Ugh! People.
I related to this article! Things that people say about your weight, they really can have a huge effect on you even if it's not intended. When I was growing up my parents would constantly make me feel bad about my weight, and when I started losing weight they would start up with the "You look so good, KEEP ON THE RIGHT TRACK" comments and it almost made me feel..spiteful? Like I wanted to re-gain weight? Because I felt like if I was happy with how I looked (which I mostly was before people started commenting on it) they shouldn't care. So even to this day, when people comment about me looking thinner I almost wish they wouldn't.
@hot dog princess Oh my god, this. I was put on a diet by my mother when I was 11 (fun story), and eventually started secretly starving myself to lose weight, and after I finally did lose weight, my parents would always introduce me to their friends with some comment like, "this is our daughter. She's SLIMMED DOWN so much lately. We're so proud of her." I hated them and wanted to die so much. Who says this to a freaking 11-12 year old in public ohmygodparents?? "Slimmed down" is still probably my most hated phrase in the English language.
And I did rebel against the diet for a long time, and my dad was sneaking me candy and all this awesome totally not-dysfunctional stuff too!
Of course now my mother "doesn't remember" any of this happening, so...there you go.
@WaityKatie ughhh clueless parents. when I was 11, my dad was like "oh you don't weigh X because if you did it would be like *mimics stomping elephant* watch out here comes rh&c!"
he is generally not like that, in fact normally a wonderful dad, but I'll never forget that he said that.
@WaityKatie Wow, did we have the same parents secretly or what? I was put on a diet young and also rebelled against it for a long time. My parents would reward me with food one second and then get angry about it the next! I also lost a lot of weight eventually and my parents made a huge deal about it. My 12 year old self was like "great, glad I'm acceptable now!" and I had horrible self esteem even though I was at the thinnest I'd ever been. Oh, and I'm sure if I asked my parents now they would "not remember" any of this either.
Gee, I wonder why I have hang ups about food!? I think I'm turning into Liz Lemon.
@hot dog princess Yeah, I definitely got the message that what mattered was the way I looked, and that the way I naturally looked ("fat") was totally unacceptable, so I should just do whatever was necessary (starving) to change that. Also, being overweight was something that I shared with my dad, and that enraged my mom (naturally tiny and thin) about both of us, so I got to be used as a pawn/proxy for my parents' battles with each other, awesome! I wonder why I don't feel the urge to get married, ever?
I get so pissed off when people use "healthy" as code for "physically attractive to me." A straight guy friend had just started online dating and mentioned to me how some women were too fat or too skinny for him, but instead of just admitting "I am attracted to a certain body type" he did the whole "these women don't look healthy, they should exercise" or "they should eat a sandwich" song-and-dance. I ended the conversation.
On another note: My family goes back to China (the motherland) every year, and I dread the inevitable comments about my weight. The grand majority of people in China are very very thin for a number of reasons, and no matter how much I try I can't get to that body type nor do I really want to. But every year, my extended family will make well-meaning comments about how I looked fat last year / I look fat now / I look so much skinnier now / whatever, and I am so fucking sick of it, but I don't know what to do besides nod and smile (partly because I lack the vocabulary to communicate more sophisticated concepts in Chinese :P ).
OK I'm done kvetching.
@ietapi Yes, and "she takes care of herself" as a code for "she is thin in the way that I want my women to be thin." Most thin people I know are naturally that way and many don't eat right or exercise at all, but I guess they are healthier than I am by just existing.
@ietapi Any comments about other people's health just give me the shivers, because I know it's secretly about weight. It's the same as mentioning that someone 'looks tired'.
I see it when people talk about meals too. "Oh, you're eating healthy today," or "taking a day off, are you?".
Drives me up the wall
@WaityKatie "she takes care of herself," uggggggh, ew, gross, that line, so disgusting. Love the insinuation that anybody not of a guy's desired body weight is somehow unhygenic and unkempt.
@WaityKatie Right. If those people are sooooo concerned about my health, why aren't they nagging me for jaywalking or all the other risky things I do with my life. (Note: some of them are, and they can fuck right off. I just get cross when people judge my shopping basket because I have one chocolate bar, but if a thin person is buying only chips and chocolate and soft drink, that's totally cool).
@Craftastrophies Next time a guy tells me some skinny chick takes care of herself, I'm going to be like, 'oh, you mean she never jaywalks?'
@WaityKatie She always wears a helmet when bicycling.
@Craftastrophies She gets a physical every year, whether she needs one or not!
@WaityKatie She got all her shots!
When I was in high school, I was very very thin (and also very very sick with an eating disorder). Through college I stayed what I call "healthy thin," I was still very small for my frame (5'9" and stayed around 120lbs ~size 2) with really minimal effort and generally healthy habits. People who knew how I used to look thought I looked "great," but several comments from other people who had no idea about my past habits really stick with me. Over the last few years I have gained a bit of weight due to illness, and people are really weird about it and even weirder about the fact that I'm trying to lose it (by healthy means!) since I'm not overweight. I just don't understand people's constant running commentary on other people's bodies. My weekly spin classes aren't hurting you, you need to butt out.
I lost a lot of weight in my 20s for reasons that might best be described as complex. A well-meaning, but completely deluded friend informed me that, ordinarily, he'd be worried about my weightloss (gee, thanks?) but he knew that I was "too smart for an eating disorder." It's got to be one of the stupidest things anyone has ever said in front of me.
@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) I know, right? Just astoundingly out of touch. (And, for the record, at the time we were both in grad school, which is the native habitat of really intelligent people with majorly fucked relationships to food.)
@MerelyGoodExpectations ha! Too smart for an eating disorder.
That is a joke. I have lived that joke.
@MerelyGoodExpectations You set him on fire on the spot, right? Right??
@Xanthophyllippa Set on fire With Fire (TM).
Guys I read "Fat is a Feminist Issue" awhile ago and it was very helpful. Although possibly problematic, in that it's rather middle-class white lady centric. Anyways. We are really, really fucked up in how we view and talk about size and weight and perceived "health".
Also, can I say how ridiculous it is, to spend so much time thinking about it? When I realized how much I could get done once I stopped obsessing over appearance...and then when I realized that stopping the obsession over myself and other's appearance is pretty fucking hard, almost impossible. You pretty much have to stop consuming culture.
@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) When I realized how much I could get done once I stopped obsessing over appearance...and then when I realized that stopping the obsession over myself and other's appearance is pretty fucking hard, almost impossible. You pretty much have to stop consuming culture.
It IS so hard to stop judging appearances, our own and other's. It. Is. So. Hard. Thank you for writing this honestly. I also find it really hard to stop projecting/assuming what other people are thinking about my appearance, which I guess is just me giving a different mouthpiece to my own thoughts.
@Passion Fruit Ugh, I hate it. I hate when I go to the gym, I feel that I have to check my appearance in the mirror. I also catch myself commenting silently on other people's appearance. It's like how when I read a lot of anti-racist stuff, I see someone and their corresponding racial slur pops into my head. (I also have some obsessive tendencies which may be a contributing factor.) All I can do is acknowledge each time it happens, and try to correct it.
I recently lost 25 lbs (which corresponded with my reading of the aforementioned book) because I realized that I had gained (and maintained) weight in order to be invisible, or rather, not looked at as a sexual object. (Which is one of the core themes of Susie Orbach's book.) I also gained a couple of conditions. How fucked up is it that I would rather have a BMI of 29 and have knee and cholesterol problems than be objectified? Except, as a fat person, I was being objectified in other ways. Fucked up.
@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) What. This happened to me once too: "It's like how when I read a lot of anti-racist stuff, I see someone and their corresponding racial slur pops into my head. (I also have some obsessive tendencies which may be a contributing factor.) All I can do is acknowledge each time it happens, and try to correct it." I thought all my do-gooderness backfired and I became an awful person. Hilarious. And awful.
And, yes, it is all fucked up, fucked up, fucked up.
@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) Er, I should also clarify, fat does NOT mean unhealthy. In my case I was being very unhealthy and my size also increased because I was taking in more than I was putting out. (Also, I have Swedish peasant genes that anticipate famine around every corner.) I should note that I'm still technically "overweight", just healthier. Losing weight does not always correspond to a healthier body. The "acceptable" range of size in this society is an incredibly narrow band of which most people fall outside.
Actually, fuck this, they're co-opting "healthy" now, how the hell are we going to talk about it?? With giant disclaimers, apparently.
@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) I totally hear you. We are reading the same page from the same book, and this book sucks. This book is called "Other People's Bullshit." I am burning it.
@Passion Fruit I agree! And now I have to get back to my massive pile of work. I hope I have adequately explained myself here and not pissed everyone of every size off.
I think Tina Fey said it best in her book Bossypants. It went something like "We should treat skinny people better because it's not easy" and "We should treat fat people better because it's not easy." She struggled (struggles?) with weight and body image and I like her approach to it in the book - she addresses it gracefully without making it The Main Thing.
Also I should say that if I'm being prejudiced on here about anything in general, I want you to call me on it if you see it. I'm trying to eliminate that sort of language and ways of thinking, but I'm sure I still have residual bullshit. I appreciate being called out on it so I can succeed at eliminating it from my language and thinking patterns. I think we all need less bullshit and I'm trying not to propagate it.
(I will not, however, stop swearing.)
@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) You sound awesome. Your 'Pin name is awesome, your thoughts are awesome. Would you like to be my internet friend?
@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) Gaining 25 pounds to be invisible = something I have done, completely unintentionally. I feel your pain.
@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) The visible/invisible thing is so strange. I mean, the ways weight makes you more and less visible, at the same time.
Margaret Cho has a bit about, if you take all the time you spend looking at yourself and hating yourself, take that time and energy and add it up... now you have time to take a pottery class! Or whatever. It's a LOT of mental energy. Thing is, even when you're not doing that, you're spending the energy to not do it. And by 'you' I mean 'me'. I can not hate myself, but it takes a LOT of effort, every day.
Yes! Let's all be friends. Also, I am not looking for sympathy, guys, in general Things Are Pretty OK. I mean, stuff could be better, but I'm working on it and that's what matters.
Oh man, does this hit home. I lost about 60 pounds 5 years ago and the oddball comments were nonstop. The worst part now is, as the science predicted, I've gained quite a bit of the weight back. I've maintained the healthy eating and exercise routine that made me lose the weight and I'm very healthy, and my body is totally different than it was when I was at this weight before but ate like shit and never exercised. . .but I can really viscerally feel everyone silently retracting their compliments (and my mother verbally doing so). People don't realize that when they say "OMG you look so amazing!" when you've lost 60 pounds they're also saying "You looked terrible before and will again if you gain that back".
@paddlepickle Yup, the only thing about losing weight that's possibly worse than everyone complimenting you on how much weight you've lost and how good you look is... all those same people watching you gain 2/3 of that weight back.
@paddlepickle Yeah. I have an aunt who, for the last three years, has told me, "You look so good! So much thinner and younger than when I saw you last!" This past Christmas I told her, "Thank you for telling me I used to look old and fat." I didn't even think about the "...and will again, if I don't stay just the same" part. Ugh.
@teenagewerewolf YES. That is where I am right now. I'd steadily gained weight my entire adult life up until a few years ago when circumstances and medication caused me to drop 30 pounds pretty quickly (which is a huge difference on little 5-foot me). 6 months later I started slowly gaining again, and now I'm pretty much at the weight where I was before I lost it. People said such nice things about the way I looked before, and now I imagine them silently judging me for gaining it back. My biggest reasons for wanting to lose weight again aren't for them though; they're for me. I want to feel better in my clothes, I want to be able to run up stairs, I want to take stress off my knees, those sorts of things. I try really hard not to think about the judging, but it's hard.
Can I tell my sad-sap story? I can, and I will! [Trigger warning.]
Once upon a time, I lost sooOOOOoooo much weight that everyone said I looked good (and then later double checked with me in private whispers that I didn't have an eating disorder. (I didn't! Or at least I wasn't diagnosed with one!)). My grades were perfect, my hair was always done, I exercised all the god damn time, I always ate healthy food, and I stopped menstruating and kind of sort of binge ate Ho-Hos during a class party after nearly a year of this nonsense, whoops, ha ha! Ha ha!
Over a decade later, my best friend still brings up "that time I lost so much weight" in both shock and admiration and envy, and it makes me sick, and I don't know how to tell her to knock it off. But secretly, I too admire and envy my old self, my little baby me, the one that had no sense and thought this was what would make her happy. At least she "looked" happy, and life is all about "looks, looked, looking," amirite?
Ugh, so bitter.
@Passion Fruit Oh girl, do you want a hug? :( I did something similar back in high school, and it has been kind of tough to deal with the aftermath. Like, I have a family portrait that was taken at that time, and I really can't look at it because of my conflicted feelings about my perfect muscular legs in my pink flouncy miniskirt in that picture. In one way it was awesome but in another way it was 100% fueled by high octane self-hatred.
One thing I've said to friends about it is "I was really not doing so well at the time and I'm much happier now". I think that might help people reframe it as something other than that time Emmanuelle was super skinny and tan and gorgeous?
@Emmanuelle Cunt Oh my god, yes, I do want a hug. Thank you. This topic is making me cry, which is in turn giving me the heebie jeebies.
@Passion Fruit It's okay! It means you are dealing with it.
@Passion Fruit Well now I don't know what to say, but I do know how much of a bitch these issues can be. None of us deserve this shit.
@Emmanuelle Cunt Oh whoopsies, did I tip over into creepy? My bad!
@Passion Fruit No I am just easily struck speechless by emotions! You're all good, no worries. But I still felt like I had to say something, because I'm right there with you.
@Passion Fruit All the internet hugs. The time I was the skinniest was also one of my worst depressive episodes. Not a good combination.
Thank you so much. Now I don't know what to say. Feelings, feelings!
That's like your mom constantly remembering when you wrote the mailman a love letter when you were 5, except now she wants you to marry him and also a million times worse.
I'm so sorry that even your best friend thinks thin = happy to you, but I bet if you explained to her how you felt like you said it to us, she would immediately understand. Probably in her life, thin could be tied in with happiness, and she just wants to make sure you're at your happiest. It sucks that it's coming out so wrong, though.
@Passion Fruit no, you did not tip into creepy. People have such a hard time with this stuff, and then we feel bad when we are freaking out/ feeling bad/ not handling it/ not knowing what to say. How has society conned us all into thinking it's OUR FAULT that we don't have healthy attitudes?
I mean, it's self defense and inability to be tolerant that gives me my zero tolerance policy. That is so totally fucked up.
You're probably a lot more like many other people than you think.
(I have a picture of 23yo me in scanty party wear on my fridge as reminder to myself that when I was that slimmer bombshell, I felt bad and what a waste of energy! Feel good now, self. Just, feel good now. GAH!)
Try losing 40lbs without trying due to illness and not wanting to talk about said illness with coworkers. "You look great! How much have you lost? How did you do it?" are not easy things to have to respond to when the answer it what it is.
And I am certainly NOT healthier than I was 40lbs heavier.
@ATF@twitter Yeah. A friend of mine was diagnosed with a severe, chronic illness, and lost about 50lbs, and also didn't want to discuss said illness at work. It was even awkward second-hand, when people would say things like "Doesn't Friend look great these days?" and I'd sort of mumblenod to end the conversation. I can't imagine how much harder that would be for the person who's actually going through it.
That said, good luck to you, and I hope you get back to being healthy soon!
@ATF@twitter I lost a bunch of weight due to recovering from a surgery as a teen, so I feel you. Publically, I had all sorts of people telling me how great I looked. Privately, I was a little terrified watching so much of me melt away. I'm pretty sure that dissonant experience very much messed up my young brain for a few years.
@ATF@twitter Ugh, I can only imagine. People pulled that shit on me, and I didn't even have anything serious - just a bad stomach virus one Christmas that made me nervous about eating anything but soup for a long time.
One of my friends recently had a co-worker tell her she looked great, and wow, how did you do it? My friend shot back, "chemo," then started the guy down until it sank in.
@H.E. Ladypants Oh Frog, yes. I lost 20 pounds in 21 days following surgery and heard about how fantastic I looked for weeks. Hm. . .I can't manage to take a shower without needing a nap afterwards and I can't lift an eight-pound barbell, yet I look great?
@Mingus_Thurber oh yeah. "Well, I've got a catheter poking out of my stomach and I need a kidney transplant, but at least I look thin in these pictures, right?" /facepalm Issues. Issues everywhere.
@Xanthophyllippa I did that to a stranger about my hair, last week. They asked me, in an offended tone, why I wanted to have no hair. I said 'the cancer decided for me'. I felt bad, because have not had cancer. But I am actually 100% ok with that person being afraid to comment on other people's appearances, because one day it will be to someone who DID have cancer.
@Craftastrophies HA! I did something like this to a really dim chick in high school whose sense of entitlement outsized her IQ by about 72%. I was walking down the hall, minding my own business and being perfectly happy, and she simpered, "Smile! At least you don't have cancer!" And this black cloud thundered into my otherwise perfectly fine day and the rage came flying out and I snapped back, "How do YOU know?"
She didn't talk to me again after that. I wasn't sorry.
@Xanthophyllippa Oh my god, I HATE the 'smile!' I generally growl 'MAKE ME'. I mean... I'm sorry that my face is not currently acceptable to you... wait. No, I'm not. I'm not sorry at all, you want to see me smile, maybe quit being an entitled juicebox and try doing something nice for me. Then I'll consider it.
I did that same thing to a masseuse, though. It was at a retreat, and all the women there were mothers, except for the masseuse and I. We were talking about the fact, and then she started massaging my stomach and I thought 'oh... no... don't...' and she said 'this is the only tummy I've massaged today that hasn't had a baby in it!' My reply was 'how do you know?'. It hadn't, but JESUS CHRIST the possibility for that being completely terrible....
@Craftastrophies "Ma'am, if you've been rubbing tummies with babies in them, then you've got a strong cannibal clientele."
Can we talk about what an unsexy word "tummy" is, btw? What are we, five?
@Xanthophyllippa I KNOW.
All of it was awful.
@Craftastrophies @Xanthophyllipa As someone who had cancer, and likes short hair anyway and has bitchface in public, I love you both for this. Keep doing it! When people ask me why I have short hair, I am soooo tempted to use the Cancer decided it for me line, but I don't because I don't want them to feel bad. I'm such a wimp, but I totally agree on making sure they never comment on someone else's appearance again.
i've learned to just never say anything, ever, about another person's body or eating habits, with the only exception being when something is clearly dangerous and possibly partly my business (like if i lived with my mom and saw that she was not eating or something??). i am relatively normal looking, i believe, so people wouldn't recognize my ED unless they were counting my calories. because of this, i get a lot of "you look great" or "you're so skinny", which i take as positive reinforcement and keeps me from really hardcore taking steps to get better. and i know that there are certain parts of my body that, if anyone says anything about them, positive or negative, i will become so self-conscious and often have a little freakout. and since i don't know what those body parts may be for others, and i don't know really what's going on for real with anyone i don't live with/know incredibly well, i just refrain entirely.
@lighter fluid YUP
@lighter fluid See this is exactly what aggravates me so much about "you look great" or "you're so skinny!" People will criticize "obvious" ED, people who look dangerously skinny, but compliment those who are not obvious.
Educating people, especially when they're family, or older, on this topic is such a long process too, it's like you have to constantly be saying that something is inappropriate. Like I said above, I told my grandmother exactly that about EDs and how compliments can reinforce them, and the next time I saw her she STILL said "oh you're looking so thin, you're looking nice and skinny in the face" it's just ARGH. ARGH. ARGH.
@lighter fluid Please, consider taking those hardcore steps. I'm sure there are other people on here who are going through the same things as you.
@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) And there's no way to say this without sounding too personal, but... A good friend of mine did decide to take some of those hardcore steps a few years ago, and I am SO. Proud. Of. Her. I'm in awe of her, frankly.
@redheaded&crazie i felt incredibly freed when i realized my mom had an ed. it did nothing to counteract 16 years of living with someone who criticized my weight and eating habits.. but it was freeing!
@LeafySeaDragon Really good point. I can definitely see that as a factor in my family and among friends. And really, is anybody totally without disordered thinking when it comes to weight/food/body image? COMPLETELY WITHOUT?! Probably, but not the majority of us, that's for sure.
Definitely does help to take things less personally, although I am the queen of taking things too personally, but at least you can be like "that's their baggage talking" as well
@redheaded&crazie we might be the same person. "taking things personally" is a thing i actually have to work on in therapy because i am so, so good at it.
i will never be happy with the way i look, and i have kind of accepted that? over the last 10 years i yo yo. i lose 20 pounds, i gain back 30. i lose 10 pounds, i gain it back. etcetc. i know i will never be as thin as i want to be. in order to lose weight i have to gain muscles and when i gain muscles i am not supermodel thin. the smallest i have ever been was a size 8? and i still felt giant even though i was very very small for my frame (6footer in da house!)
i'm in a 'fit' swing and i want to stay here. i'm eating better and working out. i don't want to be a fat old diabetic lady with bad feet and a walker (both my grandma's!)
*i took out a bunch of body image wank that i had typed. i sum up: being thin will not magically change my personality
@LeafySeaDragon Yes! I think people forget that being fat or thin doesn't automatically change your personality. I mean, it changes how people treat you, but not You. You are still you, regardless of size.
@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) now it is time to google Kate Harding's "The Fantasy of Being Thin."
@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) i am snarky bitch no matter how much i weigh :)
@LeafySeaDragon This article and the comments are helping me coalesce some thoughts I've been having.
I very much want to be fitter, for obvious reasons. I also want to look better. Part of this is that I would like to be a leetle bit thinner - because then I can fit into my old nice clothes, I can go shopping in thrift stores again, I can buy decent clothes in regular stores. I can make myself a dress out of three metres of fabric instead of five, because I need a whole extra width. But mostly it's about posture and confidence. My boyfriend took some outfit photos of me the other day and I hated them more than I have hated a photo of myself for years. I couldn't physically look at them. I look all schlumpy and fat and gross. And I realised it's because I'm slumping, I look messy and like I'm dragging my body around like a dead weight, which is how I feel.
So I am hereby admitting to myself - yes, I would actually like to lose some weight. I would like it if that happens. I am conflicted by that, because I also like my body this size, and I don't think I should be made to feel too big. But I do, and I miss my thin privilege and I wish I fitted into nicer clothes. I can deal with that, but only if I do something to be fitter and more present in my body because seriously, I am 28, I should not have neck pain like I do and be dragging my body around.
@Craftastrophies yoga is my go to for being healthy - mostly because of the posture thing. posture, balance, poise = beauty
watching RPDR has also helped with that, look at those tall, gorgeous ladies of all sizes ~working~ that runway. it's all attitude (and makeup! and foundation garments!)
@LeafySeaDragon Yes, I really miss it for that reason. I am trying to get to a place where doing a half hour of yoga isn't torture. I have been trying to get to that place for the last two years, but illness + winter + depression + no time, ever = the most unfit I've ever been. It's a vicious cycle, I know I'll have more energy if I do exercise now, but I have no energy, so I don't want to.
I think untangling that weight/fitness thing is important, because otherwise I'm paralysed by being afraid to lose weight - which I will, I'll probably drop a dress size when I get my activity up more, that's how my body works. But I don't want to get sucked back into that shame spiral of body hate, you know?
@Craftastrophies have you tried aquafit/water classes? the class i go to is a really pretty awesome. ok, tbh i've been to 2 classes, but the two i went to were awesome. i've only been gymming it regualry for two weeks, so baby steps! it's nice because the pool is warm, you don't have to support your body weight and it's easy to adjust the excercises to fit yourself because no one can see - your underwater! there are some larger ladies in my class and they kill it.
it's spring! sun is coming out! winter blues go away!
*oh and best thing about the water classes? that hot tub after
@LeafySeaDragon Nope, it's autumn here! I was trying to get my fitness up before now, because last winter I am pretty sure I had SAD, exacerbated by being unfit. And I didn't, and now I am basically scared of winter. I'm trying to use that to motivate me to move my butt! I am going to sign up for a few classes in the next month, in an effort to get myself fitter and also out of the house more.
I don't have a car, which makes things more difficult. Swimming is the only form of exercise I will actually volunteer to do every day. When I lived by the beach I was so amazingly fit. But the only places I can swim or do water classes now are either WAY expensive (like, $50 a week, that's basically my food budget so, no) or the main aquatic centre for my city. I can only go when everyone else goes, so it's super crowded, and then I get anxious that I'm swimming to fast/slow/taking up too much room, and then I leave after a half hour, but it costs $7 to get in and $4 for a locker, so I just spent $11 for minimal exercise. And, I mean, $11 is not much, but when it's a shitty experience, it is, and if it's my main form of exercise it adds up. Plus, I am basically ok for paying money for a good experience, but if it's a chore and not fun, I resent it big time. I am miserly.
I am trying to get over not being a joiner, and of basically having psychological trauma of being the fat uncoordinated kid in school. I feel like I am making excuses and being whiney, but the truth is that doing physical activity in front of people, especially in a class setting, makes me SUPER anxious. I feel like everyone is judging me and I'm doing everything wrong and everyone is secretly laughing at me. I need to get over this. I'm going to try a swing dance class next week, which is going to make me so anxious the first few times, and I'm going to suck so hard and... that's ok! It's ok. I'll be fine. And then if I like it I'll talk my sweetie into doing it with me and then we can go dancing on weekends and it'll be amazing.
The concept of fat=bad/ugly/unhealthy/terrible forever makes me want to bite somebody, so I'm just going to stay away from this whole thing.
@figwiggin I like you.
@figwiggin I should have done that. Poor life choices!
In the past two years or so since being under epic amounts of stress and unhappiness, I've gained a moderate amount of weight on my small frame. I try really hard to not let it bother me, but sometimes it's tough (THANKS lady at the sushi restaurant who asked if I was pregnant last spring!).
When I was home in December, I made a light remark about it in the context of the new dress I'd bought for the party/half my nice dresses not fitting anymore. One of my super stylish friends said "well, it looks good on you!" and I knew she meant it. I went on to feel totally baller in my hot little black Audrey Hepburn dress for the rest of the night. It was the best compliment I got the whole time I was home.
@Marika Pea@twitter Genuine compliments ftw!
@Marika Pea@twitter Ooo - the "when are you due?" people are the WORST. A good friend of mine was at a party a few years ago and someone came up to her and congratulated her and asked when she was due; she (of course) told the woman, "I'm not pregnant." The really sad thing is, the woman who asked her is a leading proponent of women's health and is part of the women's studies program here. You'd think that, of all people, she'd know better.
@Xanthophyllippa As the great Dave Barry says, "You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests that you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment."
@dj pomegranate I can't remember the name of the woman who does "Fat Rant" on YouTube, but she has the best comeback for this (and I've used it, too):
Person: "Oh, my god! Are you pregnant?"
Me: "No. (shifts weight to one hip, thrusts out chest) But it's still early. . . .(*wink*)"
Joy Nash. I love her.
@dj pomegranate This is a rule I could get behind.
@Mingus_Thurber Oh my god, I love you/her. That is goin' in the ole toolbox FOR SURE.
I'm dealing with this kind of thing too only I think maybe I should feel bad?
I gained 60 pounds when knocked up (w/ triplets) and lost it quite quickly and everyone was all ooh you're tiny, but I kind of hated it because the weight loss was (a) genetics - I lose weight easily, (b) exhaustion/no time to eat/post-natal depression... and now I've lost a bit too much and people are all ooh you're too thin!!!
"To save time, could everyone can take a vote on what their preferred body weight is for me? Or would you rather average all the numbers together for a compromise? What would be easiest for you? A raffle!"
Then trash their yards with 3x dirty diapers maybe.
ETA Congratulations on the triplets! I can't even imagine :)
@Inkcrafter Hilarious! So genius.
@iceberg Triplets? MAD RESPECT, ALL THE TIME, FOREVER. No one gets to say a damn thing about your body, ever, because it made THREE HUMANS AT ONCE. Bam.
@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I would like to upvote, like, thumbs-up and kudo this comment a million billion times. Also, Iceberg, if anybody ever says anything, you can just use EW's words: "You don't get to say a thing about this body, ever, because it MADE THREE HUMANS AT ONCE. BAM!"
@Mingus_Thurber This is not to say that anyone gets to say anything about ANYONE (no one gets to say anything about anyone!), but especially those badass ladies who go around making human beings inside them, in any quantity at a time. Respect to all you badass mamas out there.
@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher @Mingus_Thurber ahh you are so sweet. well, it's more like concern than judging, but I don't know it still makes me feel weird, like "buy me a cheeseburger then!"
The worst weight-related thing anyone's ever said to me was, "You look good in that dress! You're almost skinny now."
This was said by:
1) a woman...
2) ...on the morning of my dissertation defense...
3) ...and she was on my committee.
Like I hadn't already spent the last hour throwing up in the bathroom; I needed to hear this and then sit in a room with her for the next two and a half hours while she and 5 other people threw questions at me.
I'm heavier now and I STILL look hot in that dress. So there.
@Xanthophyllippa What is this I cannot even.
@Marika Pea@twitter I know, right?
@Xanthophyllippa "And in conclusion, FIRE. ALL OF THE FIRE."
@Xanthophyllippa OH MY GOD. FUCKING. NO. WAY.
I agree that calls for one thing and one thing only. eternally burning flames of ... fire.
@redheaded&crazie @area@twitter Flames...on the side of my face...
Except on the side of her face as she roasts on a slowly turning spit.
@Xanthophyllippa How in the everloving actual fuck!
@Xanthophyllippa OH MY DEAR GOD. That is...that is the worst. I can't even imagine. I would like to set her on fire.
@Xanthophyllippa WHAT. That's terrible.
@Verity I made myself feel better by reminding myself that I could, if push came to shove, pick her up and snap her in two with one hand. She was a tiny little stickwoman. (Who tried each year to bench-press her weight on her birthday. One year she came in all bummed out because she hadn't been able to do it, and I made it worse by looking her up and down and saying, "either you're heavier than you look or you're really puny." Oops. Well, what goes around comes around...)
My best friend is always struggling with his weight, and he recently opened up about how undesirable it made him feel, to the point that he's humiliated to have sex. This was shocking for me, as he's extremely attractive with and without the fluctuating 40, and also I'm really ignorant.
The comments are giving me a really good idea what not to say, but! Would anyone care to share the best things to hear during weight loss/gain times?
@Inkcrafter A good friend of mine from college has a gorgeous hourglass figure. Her weight has moved up and down over time, and I barely notice because she is so beautifully proportioned. She's hot +40, and she's hot -40, and will always be hot. Kind of like Jennifer Hudson (speaking of hot and bigger bodied... OMG).
So when she has had things to say about her weight, I just tell her, "I know that's important to you, and I want you to feel good about yourself. But I have to tell you, I can't tell when you're gaining and losing weight. Mostly because you are a fucking bombshell wherever you are on your body spectrum. Just so you have another perspective, I think you are smoking wherever you land."
And every word of it is true.
@Inkcrafter Just tell him he is awesome and that you want him to be happy.
I do, I do! I will just keep saying it always. Thanks :-)
Oh, that's his body shape, too! Big shoulders, big hips, narrow waist, panty-dropping ass etc. What you tell your friend is exactly the case with mine and I will say that next time! Thank you. It's heartbreaking to hear your friends talk about themselves like that, when everything about them makes them so dear to you.
He even said "I'm not the guy that you'd sketch in the back of your notebook"--my brain was like ACTUALLY I HAVE SKETCHED YOU HALF A DOZEN TIMES IN MY SKETCHBOOK but my mouth just said "Aaauughrle" because I might as well not add "made into a skin suit" to his worries :-/ Awkward Penguin.
I see a woman at a yearly conference whom I'm friendly with, and last year she lost a noticeable amount of weight. I didn't say anything, because none of my business, not my body, she could have been ill, etc., but then saw on Twitter later that she was upset no one noticed that she lost 50 lbs and maybe she should just stop trying. She was really upset about it.
Basically, you can't win.
@MidoriSour Ugh. Social media. It's really hard to know what to do with FB status updates and Tweets about exercise/weight loss. It's so irritating being baited to respond in a specific way.
@MidoriSour I have a very overweight aunt who is like this -- the last time she visited my parents (I wasn't home, blessedly) she got all snotty because she'd "worked so hard and no one even noticed." Yeah, mom noticed; she just didn't say anything because the last time she tried to offer up a compliment, my aunt got all snotty about it.
@MidoriSour I totally had a "I used to be a size 16..." "Awesome!" "...because I have cancer!" conversation once. It was as awkward as it sounds!
ONCE AGAIN LADIES OF THE HAIRPIN! WHERE IS THE SLUMBER PARTY HAIR BRAIDING?
@PistolPackinMama I have the ponytailers all ready!
@PistolPackinMama I HAVE THE NAILPOLISH AND MY HAIR CRIMPER!
@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I have ribbons!
@PistolPackinMama I am eating popcorn RIGHT NOW and I will share it with you all as we watch a movie.
@Ophelia Ooooo! I have nachos! Anybody want a nacho?
I also have two sweet kitties who want nothing more than to get bellyrubs. And a dog who wouldn't mind if you put bows on his ears, because he's mostly asleep, any more.
@Mingus_Thurber I want to give critters belly rubs! All I want right now is a lazy dog to take on long walks and then give belly rubs to! I will also take a nacho.
ALSO, I made homemade marshmallows the other day and then dipped them in chocolate and they're now in the freezer, so I'll be bringing them to this party too.
@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Can we have a sexy pillow fight too?
@Xanthophyllippa Uh, duh.
@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher My dog is not lazy, but he ran around the dog park for an hour, so now he's tired, and he will totally lie down and flop over for a belly rub if you're so inclined!
@Xanthophyllippa I will be wearing one of my multiple Friday Bargain Bin camisoles.
@everyone the sexy pillow fight should be in slow motion.
Also, I have the copy of The Princess Bride, so let's fire it up and pass the nachos.
@PistolPackinMama With lots of hair-tossing.
@everyone YOU GUYS, I want to go to there SO BAD. Instead I have to spend my day in meetings and classes and being worried sick about my thesis. I want a sleepover dammit.
When I lost a bunch of weight in HS (I was 50 lb lighter at the lowest range from the highest), my brother would only say, "I am happy for you, if you are happy, but I also do not want you to think you need to maintain this because people are responding positively. It might be hard."
At the time, I resented this. But as my weight continued to fluctuate for years, I would remember it with thanks.
@dham What a sweet brother!
So spoke to me- Thank you! I have a similar experience where I lost 30 pounds- via the halt drinking yourself into oblivion method- also known as getting your shit together. I still cannot see the change in myself (except for my damning pants) & was shocked that other people were able to see it but not me. Mostly all the comments have been positive & I am sure that they were all uttered with good intentions, but it jut brought to mind the fact that I am so incredibly self unaware...
The stickiest comment: "Oh my gosh, you look like AJ's little sister" Yes, I am so unaware, that I transformed into another person entirely.
@AJ Sparkles My sister and I had this conversation when I lost, then gained, then relost twenty pounds due to WW/illness/surgery for the illness. I have no clue what I look like. I have no sense of how much space I take up, or how my body will look in various clothes. This is particularly weird because I spent all of college in front of mirrors that reflected me from every angle, so I used to have an excellent idea of how I looked doing just about anything.
Now I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror and I can't recognize myself. Not only am I fifty pounds heavier than I've ever been, but I *move* differently because I've been lifting weights seriously for about five years. I just don't know what size I am and how much space I occupy any more. I kind of wonder if that'll ever change: if I'd have to lose this fifty pounds to recognize myself, or if my brain'll ever click in to recognizing Mingus at 190.
@Mingus_Thurber Oh, Mingus, yeah. I think part of it is the whole idea of "real weight." Like there is a time that we can freeze, go back to & say that is the real me- 22 & smoking hot. This here? This is all just a temporary thing i'm trying out.
I think my brain has refused to accept that this temporary thing IS the new 22 & smoking hot.
Also, sorry to hear about the movement challenge, I don't want to treat your comment lightly & throw sarcastism @ something very real- I understand the challenge
@AJ Sparkles I feel like, when I was in HS I was a size 12-14 but I felt HUGE, like a size 24. Now I am a size 18-20, and I feel like a size 14. I keep catching myself trying on obviously wrong sizes in stores, etc. I don't think I'll ever catch up.
I got the impression that the moving differently is a goof thing? As in, easier and more strong?
The weird thing for me is that when I was in high school and uni, I assumed I was unfit, because I was fat, duh, and you can't be both. I would try to exercise and get frustrated because I couldn't see any difference. Because I was on my feet working and lifting heavy things 8 hours a day! But that's not exercise, obvs. I think about the stamina and strength I had and I could WEEP because I didn't maintain it, because I didn't know I had it. Now my arms are like noodles and I know what unfit means and I am so angry at all those years I thought I was ugly and a moral and health failure, when actually I was full of youth and strength.
@AJ Sparkles @Craftastrophies I didn't see any sarcasm anywhere in your comment, AJ. No worries.
And Craftastrophies, yeah, the movement change is sort of a good thing. I'm short and squat rather than short and slender, but it's obvious that I'm now built like a brick shithouse and cannot be knocked over easily. The strange thing is that as I'm aging, my flexibility is going down the tubes, so there's a bit of a hitch in my gitalong now and then. I should start doing yoga again (what's the holdup, Ming? Geez).
Watching myself age has been really interesting. For years I was in a stable state--call it age 19 to about 34--where I'd gain a little/lose a little, mostly due to stress, and stayed around a size six. Then, after I divorced the weirdo I'd married and was no longer so anxious I couldn't eat, I went to a size 14/16. I'm still there, but muscle's replaced fat to a huge degree. Just seeing the changes in how I move, how I'm stiffer in the morning or after sitting a long time, how things are starting to sag and alter. . . .it's not at all depressing, and it's fascinating.
@Mingus_Thurber The weird thing I've found is that what is easy and hard in yoga has changed for me. Obviously a lot of the poses I used to find easy are now hard, because I'm less fit. But there are some poses that used to make me swear so hard and hate my life, that now are a total breeze. It's a nice reminder that although I do need to work on my fitness, I am not a complete wreck. I'm just different.
Aging is interesting.
So I lost a bunch of weight 3 yrs ago and kept it off. It is mentally draining to only think about your weight and what you eat. Like I go bed without dinner because I don't even want to deal with the stress. It sucks because my sister and my mom are both seriously tiny and my aunt and my cousins are as well. When we go out I'm the fat one which is so frustrating. Then there's my best friend from high school who has been on every diet ever and still not lost any weight. It's like you don't win.
@Oranges! Bodies are crazy, crazy things. I am learning this. I think the best bet--and this is much easier said than done--is to just go with what makes you feel good, physically and mentally. Your brain needs fuel! (And, you know, so does the rest of you.) Props on keeping the weight off, that is the toughest.
Another thing I find really frustrating is the narrative of being supportive and weight positive to friends but when it's people we don't like, or people our exes are hooking up with, suddenly people think it's okay to be like "oh well you're Xier than she is."
It's fine when it's for "my sake" because I can and do shut it down but I find it really frustrating when it's a friend's ex dating a new girl, and you're like expected as her friend to shit talk the new girl? Fuck I hate that. That is another thing I do not fucking know how to deal with.
@redheaded&crazie "weight positive"????
@redheaded&crazie That's the one (one!) thing I don't like about all the otherwise well-deserved Rush Limbaugh shit-talk that's come about lately. So many people use his weight to insult him, like that's shorthand for everything that's wrong about him. Listen, I hate Limbaugh because he's an hateful fuckmonger with troglodytical social views who drags our national discourse through the gutter at every possible opportunity. I don't give a quarter of a shit what he looks like.
@area@twitter Yup here in Toronto we have the same thing with our mayor (overweight guy who many people hate). Once again, it's just so reductive. There are more intelligent critiques to be made.
@redheaded&crazie It annoys me when anyone reduces their dislike of someone to something about their appearance. Like, think of an actual critique people, don't be lazy.
@area@twitter That's a really interesting thought. The governor of New Jersey is quite overweight and it's in the news a lot. I've heard people (of all sizes) call him Fat Fatty. I don't think it's right to knock anyone on their appearance, but I guess people get angry at folks like Rush and Chris Christie and Michael Moore for "judging" them, so they judge right back. Same thing when a woman does something big; the first thing people want to comment on is how pretty she is. Really dumb!
Yesterday I was at a popular trendy fitness apparel store (it may or may not sound similar to KooKooDemon) and when I grabbed a 12 in a shirt and it was too big, the sales woman congratulated me. Bitch, please. I fucking hate you now.
@S. Elizabeth SET HER ON FIRE WITH YOUR FISTS
@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I SO WANTED TO. I wanted to be like "look you skinny little bitch. I have a crazy intense yoga practice and you obviously have no idea what it's like to be a short/squat/lumpy chick. No, I'm not a yoga freak for the purpose of losing weight, but because it's the only thing that seems to be helping with some awful, awful trauma issues that caused me to sort of check out of my body. I'm at the yoga studio every day because my body, my sexuality, my gender, and my womanhood were used as tools against me. Now please hand me both the 10 and the 8, because this garment is fucking gigantic on me and I don't want to flash the class when I go upside down."
I wear an 8 in the Every Yogi Tank from CuckooDemon. Who knew?
@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Side note: I used to be a yoga hater. Then I started practicing consistently after my therapist suggested it, and became a yoga convert/addict because being able to be in my body in a way that feels like fully inhabiting my own skin is the most pleasurable, amazing, incredible thing I have in my life right now.
@S. Elizabeth A friend of mine has anxiety issues and her therapist also suggested yoga. I really want her to try it, and it's even more reassuring to hear a positive review from a real person! I am so glad it's making you happy. Happy is good!
Also, in "weird clothing is weird especially fitness clothing," I had to go UP two sizes when I bought a stretchy fitness-type tank at a different store (Not PoopooGleamin') (wanted to type Semen) (whoops there it is) because everything close to my normal size made my ribs feel like they were crushing in on each other. What is up with this nonsense?
@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher It's awesome! No really, truly, I was all "psh yoga, that is bullshit. Downward fucking dog and spandex ain't gonna do it." And then I went because a few of my girlie law school classmates were doing it and peer pressure happens. It's really wonderful, and I feel fortunate that I found a studio that I love.
Weird fitness clothing YES. Somehow it all makes me look way fat? I dunno. But I generally like PooPooSemen's fabrics and their shit is cute and I am vain. There's also minimal rib-crushiness with their less "supportive" tops, so that's nifty.
@S. Elizabeth I'm afraid I don't have much of value to add to this conversation except that Cuckoo Demon needs to become a thing. That is genius.
@S. Elizabeth I spent a few minutes trying to come up with a new name for trendy fitness clothing store and everything just came out....wrong. Damn. I AM A BUDDING YOGA CONVERT, TOO and I feel like the worst person ever going on about how great it makes me feel but wow, wow wow wow. Amazing for everything. Definitely going to be doing yoga in about thirty minutes.
@redheaded&crazie CuckooDemon Athletica - for those who think the gym is a crazyass purgatory of Luon (R).
@Third Wave Housewife Yeah, this, about yoga. I am in that place where I am unfit, so doing anything is haaaaard, and I really really miss that feeling of being in my body. Sometimes when I leave work I feel like a floating head, and it's terrible. I need to get back into yoga and/or taichi because they are teh only things that really helped me with this. I miss riding my bike to work, too, but that only gave me an endorphin rush. Yoga has that feeling where I feel like I am being reattached inside my own skin, which sounds gross but is actually amazing.
@Craftastrophies I'm wondering if this is normal/weird, but I've noticed that yoga is changing my body (more muscle, feeling better, stronger, etc) but in a really slow way that feels consistent. I mean, I can do the whole horrible bootcamp thing and drop 5 pounds immediately, but it comes back immediately. Yoga seems to be changing my body in what seems like a slow but much more permanent way, and it's a change for the better. I keep having to remind myself that this is okay.
@S. Elizabeth Yes, this is a great way to describe it. I feel like it doesn't have as big an impact on weight etc as other exercises, but it really makes a difference to fitness and body... shape? Like, all my muscles and the way my body holds itself and connects etc. Personally, this is more in line with my own goals, but it does make it harder to stick to it because you don't see the effects as quickly or as obviously.
Ughh, I struggle forever and always with these comments. In high school, I was repeatedly hospitalized with an ED and nothing was worse than the "you look really great" comments. Great HOW? Because I've gained weight? Because I've lost it? Which am I supposed to try for? Now, almost a decade later, it's still a massive struggle (not that anyone close to me really knows this, uhhh. Maintaining plausible deniability is important to me.) and it just sucks. It sucks all around, when strangers say "Oh, but you're so tiny" and it makes you feel good in a sick, masochistic way, or when your mom asks worriedly if you've lost weight and then you feel guilty but also secretly happy, and then there's the double edged sword that people NOTICE how you look and if you feel really awful about the way you look one day, maybe other people are noticing too. No, wait, the worst, THE WORST THE WORST THE WORST is hearing someone comment about another person, "but she's not skinny enough to have an eating disorder." OH MY GOD ALL THE FIRE.
@yeah-elle "but she's not skinny enough to have an eating disorder" has got to be in the running for most ignorant comment made by an incredibly ignorant person ever.
I'm late to the party but I have so many conflicting thoughts about this...my CrossFit gym does these "challenges" where you eat Paleo (the typical CrossFit diet of choice) and take before/after weight and measurements to see how much you lost/gained and crown a "winner" - I don't participate because I don't like the idea of rewarding someone for losing weight or inches. I think everyone should eat healthy and exercise and I think that's the idea behind it, but just think it's bad execution to do it as a contest.
I also have a younger sister that struggles with an ED and I'm sensitive to the idea that weight/food/obsessive thoughts are way more prevalent than we realize. So I don't want to push anyone in that direction. I'm on my way to becoming a CrossFit coach and I'm going to try to suggest that, while we offer Nutrition consultations at the gym, that we don't do these insane contests. I just don't think it's healthy.
@ImASadGiraffe THANK YOU. You are a SmartGiraffe.
Every once in a while the other folks where I work will come up with the brilliant idea of having a weight-loss contest with a cash prize at the end. It makes me angry to see people who *know* what (even temporary) disordered eating can do to a person, competing to lose weight fastest, then returning to their normal habits, most of which aren't really that bad.
Weight loss as a competition belongs in the same trash bin as dissing yourself for being "fat."
You sound very sensible. I think people can easily lose perspective in gyms but you seems like you will be a nice constructive trainer.
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