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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Insulting Compliment




I am on a journey. This journey to become the healthiest person that I can become has taken me 18 months thus far and I have just scratched the surface. Being healthy is SO MUCH MORE than just losing weight. Yet, THAT seems to be the focus of most people.  Over the past 18 months, it has come to annoy me more and more that people are only considered healthy if they are at their "ideal weight" or doing whatever it takes to get there. Man, that just bugs me!

The Compliment

I recently was having a conversation with a friend.  We chatted about kids, husbands, lives, and yes, even gossiped a little bit.  Out of the blue, she suddenly said:

"You are looking good!  Have you lost weight?"

This question has been asked of me, and a lot of other people, time and time again. THIS TIME, I was offended.   I know, in all reality, I shouldn't have been offended at all! I mean, I know that her intentions were good!  I know that she really meant it as a compliment. But THIS time, THIS. TIME. I was a tad hurt.

"Why is she asking me that? Do I only look good when I'm thinner? I obviously didn't look good BEFORE, but NOW I do. Wow!  What did I look like BEFORE??? What will she say if I lose more weight? What if I GAIN weight? THIS means that she is LOOKING at how I look! She is judging me! PEOPLE are judging me!"

Now, I know that most of you will point out that these are OBVIOUSLY thoughts from a very insecure, and perhaps a little crazy, girl.  I say "girl" because I feel that those insecurities are immature and girlish. But, don't lie ladies, we ALL have those insecurities.  Some maybe more than others, but I would like to meet the person that is seriously 100% completely happy with themselves. 

I digress. After the flood of insecurities came, I realized that I felt this way EVERY time someone asked me if I had lost weight. But, wait a minute, isn't that comment supposed to LIFT me? Isn't it supposed to give me the strength to keep going with my journey of health? Perhaps. But it doesn't. Not for me. And, my suspicion is, not for a lot of us out there that are on this journey. 

I decided to do a little research!  Was I the only person who felt this way? I tried asking my Facbook Followers...(thanks to the ONE person that replied) :) I asked my friends. I tried to see if there were articles on the topic. I found THIS ONE from Weight Watchers.  And, in contrast, I found THIS picture. 

REALLY?!?!  This is motivation to people?? 
I found out that I'm not really alone.  A lot of people feel the way that I do.  Some are LOOKING for that affirmation. Others, like myself. almost dread it. I feel that giving this particular "compliment" can have more of a negative impact than a positive one. Consider the following:

1. It can add a bit of self-consciousness to someone that is already struggling with self esteem.
2. It sort of reinforces the idea that it's OK to look at someone and judge their body. AND, that people ARE judging your body.
3. The compliment ASSUMES that the person is TRYING to lose weight, and that this is somehow a goal that should be obtained.
4. It puts the idea into our heads that losing weight = looking good. That we can only look good if weight has been lost. 
5. What if the person has NOT lost weight... that makes for an awkward situation.

What Makes a Person LOOK Good?

See, I AM a healthy person.  Ok, well, I have a cold that I can't seem to get rid of, BUT while at the doctor for said cold, I had some blood work done.  The results?? P-E-R-F-E-C-T!!!  Nothing too high, nothing too low! I said to the doctor "I'm just a healthy gal!... other than this cold."  Then I felt the need to add ..."and my weight."  You know what he said???  "Yup, just a healthy gal!" 

Now, I'm not going to pretend that my weight doesn't come into play when it comes to being healthy. We ALL know that being overweight can, and probably WILL, cause health problems. But, at that point, I was pretty happy to hear those words.  

Interestingly enough, earlier in the year, I had a conversation with my brother-in-law.  He and his wife are SUPER active.  They go biking, jogging, skiing, water boarding, hiking... you name it!  I admit, I'm even a little jealous of how active they are. BUT, his cholesterol is pretty high.  He struggles with it.  He was SHOCKED to hear that I have always had perfect numbers on my blood work.  How could that be?? To LOOK at me, you would never guess that I didn't struggle AT LEAST with cholesterol. Does my blood work change the way I LOOK? Nope! Do people say "WOW!  Perfect blood work!  You look great!" Well...I wish! 

The truth is, I'm not sure that what I LOOK like should matter. I think that people can be healthy and NOT look super thin. I think that people can be thin and be unhealthy. I think that if a person is TRULY healthy, they will be happy and THAT is what matters. Happiness. 

What Makes Me Happy

I DO look good! I'm happy! I eat whole foods. I limit my sugar intake. I try to eat organic whenever possible. I eat foods that I grow myself. I am not a runner or a sitter. I like to play while being active. I like to walk and have time to myself.  I'm not sure if I will EVER be a runner. But maybe, a hiker, biker, swimmer, or something else unknown. I can't tell you what is on TV because we don't have cable. I grind wheat, oats, flax, quinoa, and brown rice to make AMAZING bread! I sing. I teach singing. I am a mom and wife.  I'm not thin. But, I'm ME! And, I LOVE ME!!  

So, PLEASE, stop telling me that I look good. I feel that it implies that I didn't look good before. Stop telling me that I'm NOT healthy because I'm overweight. Just STOP TALKING TO ME ABOUT MY WEIGHT!  There is so much more to me than that. Instead, tell me how happy I look. Tell me how nice my smile is. Tell me that you like my AWESOME hair! Or how about just simply saying "You look nice!"

I'm not making a declaration for ALL WOMEN out there, but... for me... let's not have my weight be the focus of any conversation. If you ask me if I have lost weight, you might find me answering:

"No, have you FOUND some?? 




 

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