Sunday, August 23, 2015

Unbothered Day 23: "Hell naw!" or Why I Don't Thank People Who Tell Me I Lost Weight

I love me some Sofia!!
She's my favorite character from The Color Purple.

A few days ago I shared a story on Facebook about feeling uncomfortable with someone telling me that I was looking slim.  One of my friends left these two comments:  "Why can't you tell someone they've lost weight and looking good when you see them, isn't that a compliment?" and "I'm thrilled when people tell me I look thinner cus I've been working out hard to be thinner." 

 I told him that this is a great question, and I'd address it today.  Let me start by saying that I am in no way telling anyone how to feel about these types of compliments.  If they bring you joy, lovely.   I'm writing a book about how losing weight led me to weight neutrality, so make sure you buy it when it drops!

Here are my reasons!
  • I don't think we should comment on people's bodies.  In my experience, women do this a lot when they have nothing else to discuss. 
  • White women commenting on my body infuriates me to no end.  Just as Millie interrupted Sofia's day with that jive ass comment about her children being so clean, this woman interrupted my day with her words.  I'm doing my best trying to live in New Hampshire where people say terrible things all the time.  I've had people tell me I've lost weight and then give a "compliment" about my butt, my calves, hips, my tittyballs, etc.  It's always some nonsense with these people.  PSA: White strangers, please leave me alone.
  • I've had dinner with this woman (in a group with other women), and she did a lot of food policing and moralizing about what she and other diners were having.  I resisted, and she didn't like it.  
  • Appearing to have lost weight is only a compliment if you don't like fat and fat people. I'm working very hard to unlearn my internalized fatphobia and celebrate size diversity.  Besides the fact that weight loss can occur for many reasons, the fact that my body's relationship to gravity has changed is not a reason for us to celebrate.
  • There are lots of ways you can build a relationship with me that have nothing to do with how my body appears to you.
  • This woman made this remark while I was passing her at the beginning of a class (I was on my way to sign in when she said it).  It's NEVER ok to make public declarations about my body.  
  • When people say these things in public and I don't thank them, the mood of the conversation changes.  I'm not some fatty grateful for your recognition.  Again, leave me alone.
  • If I allow myself to be moved by remarks that I appear smaller, what am I to do with comments that I've gained weight?  Are those still compliments?  My life is filled with people preoccupied with the number on the scale, the size of their jeans, the calories in their nonfat frozen yogurt.  I choose a different relationship to weight.

An Addendum or "I Don't Know Her Either"
Yesterday another woman in a fitness class told me that I had lost weight, and first I blew it off.  She repeated herself, so in the spirit of experimentation, I decided to go along with it.  I said, "Yes," and she immediately wanted to know how much weight I'd lost.  First I told her that I don't talk about weight because it makes me uncomfortable.  She pushed.  I said, "Meh, about 215 lbs., but keep it to yourself.  I really don't spend time talking about it."   I then went back to dancing.  

 She made a shocked face and said "Oh my god!"  She spent the rest of the class shooting me glances.  (While this woman is also a classmate, the few times I've seen her, we always have a good time cracking jokes.)  After class she asked me more questions that I didn't answer and testified about her relationship with her weight.  She was really trying to have a heart to heart!  I wound up comforting her, and that made me feel like Sofia with Miss Millie.  For a host of reasons that we can discuss over dinner, I don't like performing that kind of affective labor.

The Power of Big Black Bosoms

Thought For Today:  What other topics can I discuss besides weight?

1 comment:

  1. I've been following your Unbothered series since Alexis Pauline Gumbs posted about it on FB. I shared this post today and it is RESONATING!! Thanks for this space.