I weigh less right now than I’ve weighed in a decade. It’s been an effort to get here. But I don’t want to go on about what I did and how it worked for me. And I don’t want to start a dialogue about regimes, or yoga versus pilates, or any of that hoopla.
In fact, I don’t want to talk about my weight at all.
The problem is people keep talking to me about it. It's kinda insane the number of people who think it’s okay to walk up and comment about it. People I barely know in the office stop me in the hallway and tell me I’ve lost weight in urgent and strangely demanding voices. Even people in our satellite offices have even called me up and said “oh, we hear you’ve lost weight!” Like this is okay. Like my body is something you get to talk about at all.
Even though I’ve lost weight, I still want to defend the me who weighed more. And all this praise and attention has implications for her. If I look great now, I didn’t then. If I deserve praise now, I deserved censure then. So, the sudden attention makes me feel people's disingenuity more than their kindness or cheer.
Only I know all I've been through, and I’m not willing to throw myself under a bus. I understand the me who weighed more. And I may be her again sometime in the future, because (let’s face it) that has happened too. So hating the heavier version of myself now might only mean setting myself up for future self-hatred. And that’s clearly a recipe for all kinds of disaster.
A few years ago, I also lost weight and somebody declared that I had to change my social media profile pics because I was thinner now. The implication was you’re not “her” any more. Remove all traces of her! Similarly, a male friend wondered out loud why a woman he was matched with would keep pics on her profile that showed her clearly much heavier than she was now. Again, the implication was that we should disown our heavier selves, feel shame or (more positively) feel triumph -- but in a way that makes us want to nullify our prior existence.
But I want to be able to say, "I am the same me!"
The challenge is that’s not really true because people treat me so differently now. Strangers, shopkeepers, the aforementioned coworkers, even - more hypothetically - prospective employers. So, of course I feel different. Because the world is communicating differently with me and that changes my dynamic in it; much as my identity is my own to nurture and protect, it is also social.
It suddenly seems like I have more permissions than before; to indulge in public, even to be out in the world just moving about. I can go clothes shopping thinking about what I like versus what fits, which is one of those small but huge freedoms. And I’m not okay with that either. I’m not okay with it on my own behalf, or on behalf of any person who feels all these bold and callous assumptions and unconscious biases limit or shape their life, mental and physical well-being, worth, even lovability.
There’s this fairytale / reality TV idea that when you lose weight you emerge on the other side, some dramatic “after” swan with the new-found confidence of never looking back. But this is part of the effed-up world we live in; seeing people as “befores” and “afters”, assigning importance to (and making assumptions about) the superficial results instead of the dramatic ways people constantly change and evolve (that may or may not entail physical changes).
I am transformed when I read a beautiful book. I am transformed after meeting or spending time with amazing people. I am transformed by nothing days when the light is just so, and the coffee is just right. I am transformed by many small acts of generosity, both giving and receiving. I am transformed by being loved and respected but also by being hurt, used, disrespected. I am transformed when I have a sudden new crush, when I knock off a big project at work, or when I commit successfully to a financial plan. I am transformed when I run a new distance. I am transformed by my many failures too. I am also transformed by sickness and injury, by aging and my environment – things that lie beyond my small volition.
We are all constantly transformed, in ways that are profound and intriguing and mostly ineffable.
So, please, let's not talk about my weight.