It’s no secret that the country (world? Universe?) has a serious obsession with weight, especially when it comes to women. A quick glance at the headlines on any given news site, magazine or paper will give a number of stories of people losing weight, how to lose weight, what plus size is, why obesity is an epidemic. How the average size of a woman is dramatically different from what the average woman thinks it should be. Which of course differs from what men see as well.
There’s healthy and there’s perception. And there’s a whole other world of weight loss and gain that stands alone : health influenced.
The woman who used to look so slim and trim and fit gained some weight so it’s assumed she got lazy – stopped working out, stopped eating well, stopped caring. But did you think for a moment that the very drugs that are keeping her alive have caused her to gain weight? Not all health issues are public, not all medications obvious.
The woman who had been gaining weight over the years – just a few pounds here and there, but they all added up – suddenly looks fit and trim . But while you’re complimenting her on how great she looks and exclaiming over pounds lost, she’s wishing she were healthy enough to gain some back.
I’ve lost a lot of weight so far while fighting cancer. But here’s the thing: I wasn’t dissatisfied with myself prior. Did I feel like I could lose weight and be healthier? Sure. Did I want to hide away and not be seen? Nope. Actually, when I was at my heaviest last year, there are more pictures of me than in previous times. When I was overweight, I still felt happy and beautiful and like I was a good person.
I grew up thin…tall, skinny, pretty enough. As life moved along, kids came, time got shorter, I gained weight. I wasn’t oblivious. I knew it. My doctor knew it. But it was ok. It was just life.
The most common comment I get right now is “Wow! You’ve lost a lot of weight!”. Generally, that’s followed by the ever so rude “How much weight have you lost?!”
Usually, I blow it off. I’d be happy to give my cancer diet to someone if they really thought it would make their life that much better. But sometimes what I want to say is
WHY DOES IT MATTER? Why does the number of pounds I’ve lost due to medications and side effects and treatments matter so much to you? If it were 20lbs would that mean I wasn’t as fat as you thought? If it were 100lbs does that mean something else??
Asking people how much weight they’ve lost (or gained) is rude, no matter the reason. If they want to share, they will.
Before cancer, my weight didn’t define me. It doesn’t during, nor will it after. And pointing out the obvious is bound to get you some sarcastic responses eventually.
** it occurs that a lot of people DO like to be asked how much weight they’ve lost and how – and maybe, just maybe, if I were busting my ass Biggest Loser style I would be thrilled to throw those numbers out there, too. But for ME, in the grand scheme, I’m fighting cancer, not obesity. So by focusing on my pounds lost, maybe it feels like missing the point?
Also, I know people don’t know what to say and that weight is super easy because it is visible, don’t get me wrong. But there’s a fine line between rude and interest and that was truly my point. **