Losing weight made me resent myself. Both the old me, and the new me. I lost 65 pounds after having my third baby. If you include the weight I was at the end of my pregnancy, I lost 80 pounds. I didn’t do this all at once; it was gradually, throughout the course of a year. While it is refreshing to wear new clothes and periodically feel confident in my skin, there are some aspects of weight loss that have been damaging to me – other people’s comments.
I understand that they say these things without malice, because I believe these people genuinely want to make me feel good, but I think there should be some sort of boundaries when it comes to commenting on someone’s body. It is unacceptable in any circumstance to comment when a woman gains weight, so why do people strive to make comments about those who lose it?
Before you bite my head off, it is completely different when someone is public about their weight loss journey (by ALL means, cheer them on! They deserve it!) but sometimes people don’t make social media posts about it because it is personal to them. Other than my husband and my best friend, I didn’t advertise that I was losing weight, though I would gracefully answer questions to those asking me if I was. The most difficult for me was the comments I would hear immediately after seeing someone I hadn’t seen in a while (because let’s be honest, do moms really ever get out of the house?).
“Wow, who knew you were so beautiful?!”
Yes. I heard this. MORE THAN ONCE. Do people not proofread what is about to come out of their mouth? (Maybe that’s just me and my crippling anxiety.) So why would this hurt me? Well, because the old me was beautiful too. Maybe not by their standards (and who gives AF what someone else thinks is beautiful anyway), but the old me reminds me of a time where I was happier, with fewer struggles. There are a hundred ways to find beauty in something, and appearances shouldn’t be at the top of the list.
“Dang, look at you after three kids!”
Would I be less of a mom if I didn’t lose the weight? I get a weird intuition this is one for the “breast is best” or natural labor campaign, because who the hell cares? What about the new mom standing next to me when you said that? You just subconsciously put (even more) pressure on her to lose weight. Thank you for your compliment, but just … no. Motherhood is not a competition. Girl, you lost your baby weight? Good for you! I bet you are doing what is best for you! Girl, you didn’t lose the baby weight? Good for you! I bet you are doing what is best for you! See how easy that was? Do you want to know what is easier? Don’t bring up baby weight at all.
“I didn’t even recognize you!”
I get this the most, and each time it chips away at me. I know, I look a little different in size, but I’m wearing the same glasses I have been wearing for four years (yikes) and I haven’t changed my hairstyle since high school. Is the old me that lost in my new body? I still have a weird sense of humor and questionable social skills, I am just a few sizes smaller as I stand awkwardly in the corner at parties.
After going out for an evening with my husband at our small-town fair, which is basically an all-school reunion, I was so sick of hearing about my weight loss with every person I chatted with that I asked to leave early. I was getting uncomfortable with people critiquing my body and then feeling entitled enough to give me a review of their findings.
Do they know that this weight loss is a mix of depression and untreated thyroid problems?
Do they know that I miss the old me?
Do they know they are feeding into my major body image issues? That when I saw the tag with the little tiny “S” on it, I tried on three more of the exact shirt with the same size because I thought for sure it was mislabeled? In the mirror I still see an XL+.
Do they know that I started wearing my old clothes to make myself look bigger when I am around people I know?
Do they know I weigh myself every morning to make sure I am not gaining weight, because I am terrified of their judgment if I gain it all back?
Do they know that their anorexia comments are (A) NOT FUNNY and (B) not a compliment? Having closely known women who have fought that disease, and the minute-to-minute struggle they have and still do endure, it is highly inappropriate to make light of any eating disorder.
I cannot stress enough that I know people just want me to feel good about myself, but for someone who has recently lost weight who wasn’t skinny prior to gaining weight, it is hard to hear people put the old me down. I really liked her. Throughout all the numbers on the scale, she reminds me of happiness. It is kind of like picking on a sibling: only okay if you do it.
I appreciate your effort and understand that a lot of what plays into this is my own mental health and issues that I need to work on. I just want to bring awareness to the darker side of weight loss, something we don’t hear or think about often, and maybe validate the feelings of someone else going through what I am. So next time you notice a big change in someone, ask them a question about what they have been up to, or how their family is, or give a compliment to their new business, not their new body. If they want to talk about it, they should be the one to start that conversation.
A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t want to hear the gory details of her childbirth (or you wouldn’t tell her about yours) you are not close enough to comment on her body.