no matter the size, weight loss does not equal health
I have lost some weight over the past few months. It recently reached the point where my clothes haven't fit as well, and the people who see me day-to-day have noticed. In fact, here's a photo taken not long ago, side-by-side with an attempt to slightly duplicate it.
It's not that easy to tell from the photos, but you can see it in my face just a touch. Just a touch is all it took to hear about it though. And in-person, you can see it around my wrists, my ankles, and in the way some of my pants no longer fit, or when a dress hangs slips too low on my shoulders.
Here's the thing. I have not intentionally made an effort to lose weight. I have not changed my diet or my exercise habit. My stress has not changed. This has happened for no obvious reason to me.
I've never hid the fact that I'm a plus-sized woman, because that's kind of impossible. So when people comment on my weight, it often comes with words of congratulations. Or encouragement. Or flattery. Very positive, excited messages of encouragement. This is a problem. A huge problem.
It's no secret no secret that I've lived with an eating disorder. So problem the first? When I hear these cheery messages directed at my weight loss, it messes with my head. It triggers old thoughts and obsessions over how I look, and how I can get skinny.
Problem the second? I said it already. I have not made any intentional efforts to change my weight. Nor have there been significant unintentional changes to safely cause the weight loss. And with additional symptoms I've noticed, but have no desire to go in detail on, this weight loss is telling me there is something wrong. Something is not right with my body.
There is something out-of-wack with my health.
And yet, the assumption is my shrinking size is a good thing. Or an intentional thing. Or a signal that I am 'living healthier' or 'taking better care of myself'. I've heard so much positivity towards something that is actually alarming me quite a bit. And it really needs to stop. We as a society need to stop assuming a loss of weight is an intentional, positive thing. And honestly, we need to stop commenting on weight loss when unprovoked, because guess what? It's none of your damn business.
Rather than telling me I'm looking like I've lost some weight/I'm skinner/I'm looking better, tell me I look joyful or radiant or glowing. Comment on the energy I bring to the room if that energy brings you any sense of joy. Or comment on the megawatt smile I likely have plastered to my face. Tell me if I am actually, in some shape or form, making your day even just a little bit brighter. Because my weight, or lack of it, ultimately has no effect on your existence.
P.S. I've debated for some time if I wanted to write this post or not. But it's Mental Health Awareness Week this week, and I want those who have similar experiences to know they are not alone.