I find it amazing that people who would never consider walking up to an overweight person and saying, “Gee, you’re fat,” or “What’s wrong with you? Did you mean to gain that weight?” seem to have no problem in reverse.
Some folks have no qualms about saying, “Gee, you’re thin. You look awful. Did you mean to lose that weight?”
That’s rude, dude.
What if the person has cancer? An eating disorder? Crohn’s Disease? Or just a really high metabolism?
Yes, it’s personal. And I mean that two ways – it’s being too familiar (unless you’re a close family member, maybe, and you have serious cause for concern) and it’s been happening to me.
It’s not the first time in my life people have felt free to say such things. Let me start by saying even when I weigh more, I have a bony face. My children “lovingly” called me “Skeletor” when they were in junior high and high school. It’s the cheekbones more than anything.
(I’ve also been compared to Joni Mitchell, which I sure don’t see, but again, it’s the cheekbones.)
When I went through a long and difficult divorce 15 years ago, I lost a lot of weight without realizing it. I was a teacher, it was summer and I was laying low so as not to be ambushed by the soon-to-be ex. My kids were teens and had their own lives, so I spent most of my time alone with my dogs.
I remember eating Pop-Tarts and baked potatoes with steamed broccoli and cottage cheese. I worked out a lot, vegetable gardened, and walked Trudy and Toby.
Not the most fun time of my life, so I was glad to get back to school in August. But one of the first encounters with a fellow teacher was in the NLRHS West Campus office, when a teacher I barely knew asked top-of-her-lungs loudly, in front of other people, “Oh, my god – why did YOU go on a diet?!” I can’t remember what else she said; things kind of glazed over.
I remember saying, “I didn’t; I’m getting a divorce,” and turning and walking out.
She didn’t apologize, but maybe I didn’t give her time.
Later, I saw a very nice volunteer mom, who actually yelled from way down the hall some version of “Ohmygosh, you’resothinwhatdietdidyouuse?” (She’s from the north and talks really fast.) I told her I’d been on the “divorce diet” and had just lost 200 pounds.
“You used to be fat?!” she yelled. “I didn’t know that! When …”
I held up my hand to stop her and explained that, no, no, no, it was a joke. My almost-ex husband weighed 200 pounds. I was kidding. She meant no harm, but it was still awkward.
Over time I gradually gained back to my normal weight – I’ve always been about the same size since I lost my childbearing weight, which was about a 4 in today’s fake-vanity-sizing world of fashion. Oddly, though I still wore the same size in Levi’s 501s as I wore in high school (they’re sized by waist and length), in high school I wore a size 9. Interesting, huh?
Anyway, about a year and a half ago, my pants were a bit snug in the waist, so I ordered some Fiestaware luncheon plates and started using those instead of the giant dinner plates. (See the difference in size?)
Then I quit my high-stress teaching job and started eating on my natural schedule, when I was hungry instead of when the bell rang, and between those two changes – and nothing else – I lost about 15 pounds in about 15 months.
My doctor recently said my weight is just about perfect but not to lose anymore (I’m actually having a bit of trouble with that; I did drop two more, but it’s stable now). My feet don’t hurt anymore and my arthritic knees are much, much better.
I’m strong as an ox (or as an ox with repaired and re-torn rotator cuffs can be), so, no, a strong gust of wind won’t blow me away, as I was told today. This seems to be where my vegetarian body wants to be at my age. I can even wear heels again without pain in my bony feet.
If I find out I have a disease, I’ll tell you. I’m an open book – I’m a Myers/Briggs ENFP and we tell everything if it can help someone. So quit asking if I’m OK. It’s rude.
Eating disorders run in my family. I probably have more experience in that department than you can imagine. My sister still fights anorexia every day, and I really wish people wouldn’t comment on her weight to her. That’s not just rude, but dangerous.
In a similar but different range of rudeness, my sister-in-law got snarky comments/stares from some people in our group when we took a trip to Europe right after her chemo and radiation treatments. It was the first time she was brave enough to go out with her short, spiky hair instead of a wig.
Some of our group seemed to think she was too old for a punk hairdo and had no qualms about being ugly. Little did they know what was really up. Nor did they bother to think that something might be up. We were thrilled she was alive and healing.
We’re just all moving through this world together, people. Smile on your brother, leave my sisters alone, and keep your damn comments to yourself.