I got asked this tonight, and it made me uncomfortable, as it always does. I answered with a shrug and an “I don’t know…” and the person followed it up with a “you look good!” I have a lot of trouble synthesizing that, for a variety of reasons.
1) bodies are intensely personal. I don’t think it’s ever appropriate to ask someone about weight loss or weight gain, especially an acquaintance.
2) the follow up of “you look good” upsets me. Do I look less good if I weigh more? Does how good I look directly correlate with whether I’ve lost weight? The insinuation most people have that thinner=better is so obvious in even the most innocent remarks like this.
3) what if I have lost weight, but it’s because I’m working a full time job, a part time job, juggling 5 classes, a club, and being on a student leadership council? Is not having enough time to eat still “good”? Is the fact they my fridge and cupboards are mostly bare and I’m too poor to fill them “good”? What if I’d been ill and it caused me to lose weight? Is that good? The truth is you can never tell why a weight fluctuation in someone happened, and it’s really bad to assign positivity to a change in body size without knowing what a person is going through.
4) this person couldn’t just say “you look good?” And have that be it?
Assigning moral value to body size will always make me uncomfortable. The person who did this meant no harm or ill will, but it just made me really think about how pervasive the message that “thinner is better” is.
Y’all, unless you know for a fact that someone is actively trying to change their body weight and is looking for encouragement, don’t comment on their weight. It’s a big trigger for a lot of people. Your self worth and goodness is not tied to your pants size. Remember that!
PS: my favorite thing to reply when someone asks if I’ve lost weight is “oh gosh, I hope not!!” People are usually so shocked by that, it shuts them right up.
(reposted from my instagram, feel free to follow me @randomlancila!)