The combo weight-loss compliment/insult

This morning, I ran into an acquaintance I see every month or so.  He is a nice man, but sometimes he says things that are sort of insulting.  While we were talking, he asked me how much weight I lost overall.  I started exercising regularly and not drinking as much about four or five years ago, and it caused me to lose weight.  I have always been a healthy eater, so I didn’t have to adjust my regular diet very much.  I assumed he meant since that point.  From that particular instance in time, I lost about fifteen or twenty pounds.  I am 5’2″.  On someone my size, twenty pounds can look like thirty or almost forty.  He insisted I must have lost at least thirty, saying, “Well, I remember seeing you at your dad’s before, and, well…now you look like a whole different person.”  I know I wasn’t that overweight.  I weighed myself before I started jogging and working out regularly, and I know I wasn’t extremely overweight.  Not even close.  Yes, I gained more than I should, but not so much that I “look like a whole different person.”  Now, I will admit my posture improved significantly with ballet training, and I have a slightly different hairstyle and wear better fitting clothes.  Those are not the same as losing weight.  Also, he isn’t the only person who broached the subject in this manner.  Every time I see my nanny, she says, “How many pounds you lose?  How many, tell me the truth.”  I know she and the other guy mean well, but it’s very hurtful and insulting to have people insinuate–or say outright–they thought you were extremely overweight when you weren’t.  I see people who are obese every day.  I know the difference between obese and somewhat overweight.  The worst part is, both of these people repeat them each time I see them.

I heard them the first few times.  It’s been four years.  While it was sort of okay to say the first year, every instance since was unnecessary and somewhat insulting.  If anyone is thinking of saying these types of things to someone, please consider saying, “You look like you are taking great care of yourself, and I want to say ‘Good job,'” or “I think you look wonderful today; keep up the good work!”  Those are much nicer than, “Damn, you looked like hell before, but you sure look good now,” or “You were so fat, but now you look really good.”  People who lost weight don’t want their past selves constantly insulted.  Their past is still part of them.  My past is still part of me.  Don’t hurt her.  She’s been through enough.

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