The Weight of Words

I’m not going to congratulate you on your weight loss anymore.

If you tried to lose weight and succeeded, then I’m happy for you that you achieved what you set out to do. It’s always good to reach our goals. But merely weighing less than you used to is not, in and of itself, praise-worthy. There is no particular virtue in dropping a pants size. I am not going to gush over the fact that you have found a way to look less like me.

I’m also not going to say “thank you” when someone asks if I’ve lost weight. I haven’t and, despite your good intentions, this is not a compliment. I wouldn’t thank you if you asked if I’d pinned my ears or removed a mole or done anything else to fundamentally alter my body to suit your sense of aesthetics. “You look good” is a nice thing to say to someone; “You look good, so you must have fixed what was wrong with you” is not.

And I’m done – DONE – indulging the “I’m so fat!”/”No, you’re not!” scripts we women feel we must follow every time we try on clothes or, heaven forbid, eat a meal. I’m done with the self-flagellation and I’m done trying to reassure you that you don’t look like me. I eat. I wear clothes. Neither of these things requires an apology.

Do not try to pretend any of this is about health. It’s not. Nobody says “Did you lose weight? Because your cholesterol numbers are fantastic!” No, it’s “You look so good! Did you lose weight?” Unless you’re in a doctor’s office or specifically discussing what happened in a doctor’s office, it’s always about looks. Always. That’s how you perceive that someone lost weight and it’s the thing you’re praising. “Congratulations, people will now enjoy looking at you!”

We need to stop linking weight to morality, so I’m starting with the fat girl in the mirror. My body exists for my use, not as a vehicle to prove my worthiness as a person. I weigh what I weigh and that has nothing to do with you. You weigh what you weigh and that has nothing to do with me.

Feel free to compliment my haircut, my lipstick, my earrings, my new dress. If you’re complimenting appearance then mention something whose primary purpose is to enhance that appearance. But my body? It’s for so much more than that, just like yours is. I’m done reducing both of them to only what the eye can see.


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