"Wow, you look skinny!"
These four well-intended words bother the hell out of me.
Thanks to my job at Green Mountain at Fox Run, I have enjoyed a wonderful side benefit of becoming healthier. One of the symptoms of my new-found focus on health was losing some excess weight, and I've heard about it ever since. Friends and family who haven't seen me in the four years since I made some changes <!–more–>will often remark on it with those four little words I despise.
Sometimes it is much more difficult to accept compliments than it is to field criticism. When it is in regard to our body size, criticism can feel far more natural, especially if that's all we're used to saying to ourselves. Inevitably, the compliments will come if you happen to lose some weight, often from many directions at once…family, friends, co-workers, the random nice lady you see from time to time in the post office…
My own problem with that phrase does not lie in a lack of self-acceptance, however. I was blessed with a love of my body from the moment I landed in it, and have enjoyed all the shapes it has taken over the years, with a few momentary exceptions. So why am I hating? After all, the people who say these things are commenting on a perceived positive change and often follow up with "great job!", as if I've climbed an insurmountable mountain. In fact, I often lose perspective on the progress I've made, and hearing those four words remind me of where I started and how far I've come over the years. Still, I would rather be complimented on my change in focus rather than my emerging hourglass.
Body image is a problematic issue. We are constantly bombarded with advertising and entertainment featuring "ideals" and the hottest methods to incorporate diet mentality into our lives. It can become an obsession, if not just another societal source of anxiety, for the best among us. A while back, we suggested you stop the fat talk; what many folks forget is that this includes the skinny talk, too.
By pointing out my success, the nice lady at the post office might have made that other nice lady who just happened to be in earshot feel horrible about her lack of success.
Am I being too sensitive? I wish that more people would be.
So, to my lovely friend who visited last weekend, I apologize if I didn't make a big deal out of how quickly you've lost your post-baby weight. I'd like to take this opportunity to say that you look fabulously healthy and strong, my dear friend. :)