In the past nine months, I have lost a total of 120 pounds. With any dramatic weight loss experience, you’re going to encounter people who are astonished by how much your body has changed. With that, I have noticed that I also get a lot of comments regarding my weight loss, more than I expected or wanted.
Many of those people will be perfectly supportive, compassionate and encouraging. However, some may not. Some people will provide unsolicited advice, some people will act as guilt-inducing food pushers and some will annoyingly hit on you. Needless to say, not all attention you get following dramatic weight loss is welcome.
Some of the “compliments” or comments I hear on a regular basis include:
- “Hey skinny” or “Omg, you look so skinny”
- “You look amazing” or “You look great”
- “You look happier”
- “One brownie won’t kill you”
To be honest, depending on how you give me the compliment, I usually do not feel comfortable hearing these comments. In fact, even the simple “You look great!” feels awkward sometimes.
Why is this? Being told how amazing I currently look makes me question what the “complimenter” thought of me previously. Did I look bad before? What was wrong before that you did not compliment me then but are complimenting me now?
My mind honestly goes in a million places. At least for me, focusing solely on my physical appearance triggers something in me. Research has shown that complimenting certain people who have struggled with food, diet and exercise their entire life might find your “compliment” rude or ignorant. So please be careful before saying something that might actually offend some people.
With that, I want to get something straight. I appreciate all the compliments I have received, wanted and unwanted. At the end of the day, I know that folks giving me the unwanted compliments are honestly just trying to say, no matter how painful, that they are proud of me and that I should be proud of myself. For this reason alone, instead of feeling offended, I usually speak up and educate individuals on the proper/better way to compliment an individual going through this process if I find something a little off-putting. Why? Because I want everyone to know that I was beautiful then and I am beautiful now. The only difference is that I am wayyyyyyyyyy healthier now. Skinny is not my end goal. My personal stance about body image is why I even started my blog, “Healthy not Skinny,” in the first place.
So, want some advice? Instead of complimenting my physical appearance, compliment me on my progress towards becoming healthy. Tell me you are happy that I am reaching my goal. Tell me that I am motivating. Tell me to keep it up. If you are commenting on my physical appearance, try taking an approach like my friend Nathan did in the picture here.
And remember, healthy is not a size, it is a lifestyle.