“You’ve Lost Weight! You Look Great!” Isn’t a Compliment

compliment-42Last week, a friend reported how horrible she felt when someone in her workplace whom she didn’t know very well complimented her on her recent weight loss. As it happens, my friend is losing weight to prepare for a figure competition. But this remark made her question her “before” look.  In her case, her “before” body is the one she has whenever she’s not prepping for a competition because the competition body isn’t sustainable.  (see here for why that’s the case)

Implicit in the so-called compliment about weight loss is the assumption that you really didn’t look so great before.  But now!  Wowza!  Looking good!

There are lots of reasons to think that you’re not doing anyone any favors by trying to give them the “look at you! You’ve lost weight!” compliment.

1. When we think of it in that way, it’s not such a great compliment. It’s a set-up for self-consciousness and negative self-judgment of our past selves. When remarking on weight loss is offered as a compliment, the speaker clearly thinks that there’s been a noticeable and notable improvement in how the person looks.  Without the normative standard of “thinner is better,” the comment would have no value as a compliment at all.

2. It’s also a set-up for our future selves because, for the most part, diets don’t work in the long run. Much of the research out there shows that those who lose weight by dieting now have a pretty good chance of gaining it all back and more within 2-5 years (if not sooner).  Diets and weight loss programs have very poor results over time.  See Regan’s post, “The Thing about Weight Watchers” and this report from UCLA.

3. It reinforces the notion that it’s okay to monitor other people’s bodies.  When the blog first began, I talked about “the panopticon” in relation to tracking.  The panopticon is a prison design (from 18th C philosopher Jeremy Bentham). Its key feature is that the prisoners cannot tell when they are being watched and when they are not.  The uncertainty about when they are under surveillance means that prisoners begin to regulate themselves. Philosopher Michel Foucault, and later, feminist philosopher Sandra Bartky, offered the panopticon as a metaphor for contemporary society.  Bartky uses it to explain how women fall into line with the standards of normative femininity.  If we condone comments on people’s weight loss (or gain, but we are loathe to do that since it’s thought to be an insult), we are promoting a panopticon-like scenario where people the expectation of random surveillance becomes the norm.

4. It reinforces the idea that it’s okay to let people know that we are monitoring and judging their bodies. One thing that shocked my friend in the story I opened with was that she really didn’t even know the person who commented on her weight.  And yet the person felt completely entitled to say something. What kind of a twisted world do we live in where the state of our bodies is fair game for comments from whoever feels like making them?

5. It assumes that we are trying to lose weight and that, therefore, our weight loss is an accomplishment worth congratulating us for.  I know, I know. For lots of people this is actually the case. When I attended Weight Watchers, we would literally applaud people for losing weight.  I’m sure I read somewhere in WW literature that receiving compliments from family and friends was a good motivator to keep us on track in “our weight loss journey.”  But hello!  Not everyone, everywhere is always trying to lose weight.  It’s offensive to make that assumption.

Almost 20 years ago, Sam and I learned our lesson about casually offering, “You’ve lost weight; you look great!” as a “compliment.”  If that’s the compliment you’re looking for, you won’t get it from us.  We ran into someone who used to work in our office but had moved to another unit.  We complimented her heartily on her lost weight.  Her response, “I have cancer.”

Awkward moment ensued.

Lesson learned.

If I could push rewind, I would approach it differently. I would say, “It’s so great to see you.  How have you been?”  At that point, she could choose either to tell us of her health issues or not tell us.  We could have a conversation about what we’ve been up to lately that focused on things that really matter instead of how her body looked to us.  Thankfully, our friend has since recovered from her illness. But we re-live the mortification of that major faux pas on a regular basis, pretty much any time we catch wind of anyone saying to anyone else, “You’ve lost weight. You look great.”

I do know that lots of people are in fact trying to lose weight and change their body composition.  They are putting in an active effort. They are not hiding it from anyone.  They themselves regard their progress on these fronts as accomplishments.  That’s all good. I myself would like to gain more muscle and I do have another trip to the bod pod scheduled to see how that’s going (for the sake of research, I swear!).

Nonetheless, I still urge everyone to re-think the weight loss comment as compliment for the reasons outlined above.

It’s nobody’s business whether someone has lost weight or not.  Friends, family, co-workers, and strangers do not have a right to monitor our bodies closely enough that they notice changes in our weight.  Even less do they have the right to talk about it, among themselves or to us.

You might want to say that it’s okay if we ourselves initiate the conversation. Still, I feel wary (and weary) of embarking on conversations in which the main topic is somebody’s weight.

And despite the good intentions that most have when they offer this compliment, it often comes across as a covert way of telling someone that they really didn’t look so good before.  We live in a society obsessed with “before and after” shots (it’s through those that WW “leaders” gain their credibility with the clients).  “Before” is always unacceptable. “After,” the “new you!” is to be congratulated and praised.

This whole approach comes perilously close to casting thinness and those who “achieve” it as virtuous.   The occupants of our “before” pictures are seen in a negative moral light.  Not only were we not so attractive with our unwieldy bodies that everyone noticed but kept silent about until we changed them, but also we were not so virtuous, were we?  It may be subtle and covert, but it’s shaming nonetheless.

Please join me in the boycott.

Read more about body image, body shaming, and the assumption that thin is better:

On Comparing

The Day I Discovered the Dreaded Camel Toe

Why the “Thigh Gap” Make Me Sad

Loving the Body You’ve Got

About Tracy I

Writer, feminist, vegan, triathlete, sailor, philosopher, sometimes knitter.

35 thoughts on ““You’ve Lost Weight! You Look Great!” Isn’t a Compliment

  1. Alyssa says:

    I’ve receieved these types of comments and it really does mess with your head and self-esteem. After/during really difficult time, I find it hard to eat, so I lose weight. I then start getting these comments, and then I start focusing very deeply on how I look (probably as a way to escape/distract). Of course, the weight loss isn’t sustainable and I gain it back once I start eating better again…but then my self-esteem goes down because I’m “getting fat”.

    I find body policing comments increase greatly when pregnant. For some reason, it gives everyone (including strangers on the street) permission to comment on my size and shape. Even worse, people will touch/rub my belly! It’s infuriating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tracy I says:

      Thanks for your comment. Yours is an excellent example of how harmful the assumption that we’re always trying to lose weight and that it’s a big compliment can backfire. If you lose when you’re having a rough time, you clearly don’t have weight loss in mind. And I’ve noticed too that it’s even more so for pregnant women (I haven’t been pregnant, but I have been asked when I was expecting!).

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    • MM says:

      I’ve had a smilar experience. During periods of stress, I find it very difficult to eat anything at all. Recently, I lost a lot of weight very quickly (going from size 12 to size 4 in less than a year) because I couldn’t make myself eat. It was scary. But people would compliment me on the weight loss. When I told them that it was the result of being unhealthy and severely stressed and that I was scared of the uncontrollable weight loss and how I no longer recognized my body in the mirror, they laughed and told me how lucky I was to react that way to stress. This made me feel so much worse.

      The weight loss “compliments” also really hurt my long-term body image. I have now gained the weight back as a result of being happy and having an overall healthier lifestyle, but those old “compliments” are still in my head. When I put a swimsuit on, they tell me that my current body looks worse than it did when I was starving it. It’s a disconcerting thought, because it is at odds with what I know: I am healthier, happier, and stronger now and thought I looked sickly before.

      I’m hoping that focusing on strength goals helps me reclaim a positive body image.

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      • Kaija24 says:

        Thank you Alyssa and MM, and of course Tracy for another thought-provoking post. Your stories could be mine. I am also a person whose stress/anxiety goes right to the gut and makes me nauseous. I also lose weight quickly when stressed and not able to eat (or sleep well) and have experienced the same positive reinforcement of my “accomplishment” from all sides. And these last two years, whilst in the middle of a long-term job stress and personal life upheaval situation, like Alyssa, I found myself embracing the weight loss as the only positive input I was getting at the time and also as something I *could* control.

        Now that I’ve made some necessary and major changes in my life and am feeling better, I’m regaining some of the weight and fixing my metabolism, which has tanked due to chronic undereating and overactivity. And now I’m on the flip side–I’m healthier in body, mind, and soul–I’m really having a difficult time with resolving the fact that my healthy body is going to be heavier than my skinny unhappy body and my former body confidence from before all this occurred is gone. I’ve never been overweight and have always been active, but now I have to try to fight the mental battle that tells me my “normal” self is overweight; it’s like I have no rational calibration anymore. I think I have a tough road ahead, and it’s really hard to also have to know that the same people who praised my weight loss are going to be noticing and judging as I struggle not to judge myself.

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  2. I had a bulimic friend who was constantly praised for how wonderful she looked after she began binging and purging. It only encouraged her to continue those unhealthy habits for years. I agree, these “you look wonderful!” comments can do so much damage.

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  3. Sam B says:

    Even when I’m publicly trying to lose weight, I don’t like it! Positive judgement is still judgement. And as you’ve said it makes you feel bad about how you looked before. I’m also shy and I don’t want that sort of attention. When I’m thinner I feel a bit like I’ve lost a protective shield! Being larger is an excellent antI creep tool. And all the positive attention shifts the game back into the land of looking good to get noticed by others. I’m happier, for the most part, not being noticed.

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  4. Ruth says:

    What is a figure competition? Perhaps this is part of the problem.

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  5. It truly is tough to say things appropriately. When I was a trainer, I choose my words with extreme caution…because it was my JOB to notice changes and encourage people along their journey. I had inside knowledge of the path they were on. (What they were eating, how they were working out.) My praise was NEVER about their weight, but about their health. “You look strong.” “You look like you’re feeling amazing and you deserve it for all the hard work you’re doing.” You can never go wrong with a sincere, “It’s great to see you looking so well.” Thank you for this article. Hopefully it will make people stop and rethink their “compliments.”

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  6. Craig Burgess says:

    Tracy, you’ve pointed out now in various blogs that people who lose alot of weight usually regain it all in 2 to 5 years, if not before. The statistics prove this to be the case. Okay, I believe you. But I’ve not seen a single thing posted by you regarding how to best prevent this from happening. Your blog is about being the fittest in your life by the age of 50. While weight and fat content is not necessarily an accurate mesaure of fitness taken alone, some seriously overweight people do need to lose weight and sometimes alot of weight to achieve a certain level of fitness. That includes me, and I have lost the weight. And I don’t want to regain it, and I’ve taken the attitude that by hook or by crook, I won’t. But it really isn’t all that helpful for you to keep telling me and everyone else out there that we’ll regain it all anyway – so you just shouldn’t have bothered losing the weight in the first place! Rather, if this blog is about getting fit and healthy, and not simply about “fat acceptance” – give us some clue as to how obese people can lose alot of fat in a healthy way and keep it off for reasons pertaining to health, as opposed to just reminding us of the inevitability of us being fat and unhealthy forever!

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    • Sam B says:

      Clearly, having the lost the weight you should try to keep it off. I’ve been there a couple of times. Unlike Tracy, my weight isn’t even near the normal range for my height. The last time I lost 60+ pounds, I only regained half of that and I regard that as progress. It’s tough. And there are lots of questions to which we just don’t know the answer. Is it better to lose weight and only keep it off for awhile than never to have lost it? That’s not clear. There are complications regarding your health and where the extra weight is. It’s very hard. And what both Tracy and I want people to see is the complexity. We also want people to realize that issues of weight and obesity and dieting are different than issues of training, and fitness and sports performance. Our focus aims to be on the latter. My own goals are performance driven, not scale driven, though I’d very much like to improve my lean to fat ratio. Anyway, we’re very much about fitness. And to the extent we think you can be both fat and fit, we are also about size acceptance.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Craig Burgess says:

        I couldn’t agree with you more, Sam. Health and fitness should be the goals, not simply weight loss in and of itself, or any form of aesthetic ideal. I’m referring to weight and fat loss only insofar as it relates to health and fitness. I just don’t like hearing again and again that statistically, it looks pretty certain I’ll regain all the weight – without getting any info or anything else regarding how to potentially avoid that outcome. Size acceptance is an important topic, to be sure. I guess I just don’t think it’s very helpful to tell obese people again and again and again, most of whom should lose alot of fat for reasons pertaining to health and fitness, that unfortunately, the statistics are pretty clear they’re going to be obese for the rest of their lives. That’s all.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sam B says:

        Right. But they/we would be a lot healthier with exercise regardless of weight loss. One thing I’d like to blog about is why so many overweight people quit exercising because they’re not losing weight, missing out on significant health benefits. This myth that fat and fit are tied also hurts the health of thin people who ought to exercise but don’t because they think they don’t need to. I think lots of people, fat and thin, are harmed by some of these myths. And lots of obese people are perfectly healthy. Ditto thin people. So let’s untangle these myths, get the facts, and move forward.

        On who succeed long term in weight loss, continuing to exercise is key but so too is maintaining the same intense focus on food you had when dieting. Despite that some people still regain..expect it’s genetic luck.

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  7. Ed says:

    Typo: “It’s key feature” should read “Its key feature.” (I guess I’m part of “the panopticon” in relation to apostrophes.)

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  8. Tracy I says:

    I’m not sure what to say. I didn’t invent the stats about long term success rates and I find them depressing myself. I do not have the magic solution to this situation. But as Sam says, we are more about focusing on fitness goals than weight goals. If people have medical reasons for losing weight and keeping it off, then perhaps (I’ve said this before) those reasons will motivate them to stick to a sustainable program more than less urgent reasons. I haven’t seen the research on that. But clearly a lot more people than those in a medical crisis seek to lose weight and keep it off. So here at this blog we are committed to promoting the idea that you can be larger than you’d like, maybe even larger than what is ‘recommended,’ and still be fit and healthy. Yo-yo dieting has been proven to be more unhealthy than remaining overweight. So I don’t recommend yo-yo dieting. Since most dieting is by definition yo-yo dieting, I’m anti-diet. Instead, I recommend things like Matt Stone’s Diet Recovery 2, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch’s Intuitive Eating, and other similar programs that de-emphasize weight and focus instead on a healthy relationship with food and body. I also think that people should inform themselves about metabolic health (as explained by Go Kaleo!) so that they understand that restrictive diets can be quite damaging. Again, many are better off weighing a bit more.That is an important message of this blog.

    It’s fairly clear that the key to losing weight and keeping it off is to make lasting and sustainable changes to the way you eat and the amount of activity you engage in. The stats do not say that 100% of the people who do this fail. There are people who defy the stats and manage to keep weight off. They either have a higher level of commitment than most people or have found a solution for them that is reasonable and sustainable over time. They are not the norm but they do exist. Perhaps you are one of them?

    I am afraid I must respectfully disagree with you when you say my message “isn’t helpful.” I do believe that it is helpful to promote a different approach, one focused more on fitness and health, and to de-emphasize weight loss and dieting as focal points for meaningful changes. It may not be what people want to hear, but if even a few people can get off the diet track and onto something that might work better for them, then I’m good with that.

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    • Craig Burgess says:

      Geez. I totally agree that fitness and health should be the focus, and I totally agree that yo-yo dieting for the sake of weight loss only is bad, and I totally agree that some obese (okay, “obese” has to be defined here) people can be cardiovascuarly fit, and I totally agree that body-policing is bad, and I totally agree that weight loss and dieting as focal points is unhealthy, and I totally agree that…etc., etc. In other words, I agree completely with you and Sam on these points. I’m simply saying that some obese people for health reasons have to lose ALOT of fat to be fit. How do these people keep the fat off so they can stay and/or become fit? Telling these people they’ll always be obese – or so fat they can’t achieve fitness, which is what you’re saying to THESE PEOPLE by telling THEM they’ll gain all the fat back and likely more in 2 to 5 years – is not helpful. I know you didn’t invent the statistics. I’m just saying – if you’re website is here to discuss how to become and how to stay fit – you might try to offer THESE PEOPLE some hope, as opposed to telling them they’ll be unfit and obese forever – whether you invented the statistics or not. Anyway, that’s how I’ve been reading your comments, i.e. as comments really only for people who don’t really have a problem with true obesity in the first place, and maybe mostly for people just like or at least similar to you (and you’re really quite priveleged in many ways, even genetically, Tracy), and further – maybe it’s the truly obese people who need help the most, or at least, alot?

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      • Tracy I says:

        Both Sam and I have offered several alternative approaches to leading a healthy lifestyle and shifting the focus. I have no more information than that. For people who have serious health issues that require them to lose weight and keep it off, I have hypothesized that perhaps they have additional motivation that enables them to defy the stats. I don’t know if that’s true. Absent serious health issues, we have both suggested that those who wish to pursue fitness goals can do so without focusing on weight.

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  9. I am going to have to go against the grain here and disagree. This is a compliment of best intentions and, in my opinion, compliments are a wonderful act of thoughtfulness. Sure it may backfire to comment on someones weight loss at one random time or another (Ex: the cancer patient you mentioned), but it was meant with the best of intentions.

    If someone compliments my dress – “Is that a new dress? You look great”, the response is a simple “Yes or no, and thank you”. It doesn’t mean that they think my other dresses were less than stellar, it just means that they like the dress I have on today. I shouldn’t take it personally and think “Now, I have to go out and buy only dresses just like this one, just because someone else likes it.” I also shouldn’t be thinking “I am going to throw out all of my old dresses, even if I really like them, just because no one commented on those dresses.”
    It would be rather silly to overthink or act drastically on a compliment about your dress. It’s just an innocent compliment, take it for what it is Period.

    The same response should be given/felt for weight loss compliments. The person has good intentions and is just trying to pass along an innocent, good intentions compliment. Maybe you have or haven’t lost weight, but they think you look great today and want to make you feel good by letting you know. You don’t have to take it to heart “Oh no, they must usually think I look fat” or let it change your self-image “I am never going to be eat xyz again because someone thinks I look good this way”. Just take it as a compliment, stick to your own beliefs/don’t overthink it, and move on.

    A simple “Thank you” should suffice.

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    • Tracy I says:

      Thanks for your comment. I’m sure lots of people agree with you. I don’t actually think it’s the same as complimenting someone’s dress. Complimenting changes in body shape and size promotes the idea that it’s okay for us to police and judge other people’s bodies. Saying “thank you” also assumes that losing weight is a positive thing, an achievement, something that means I’ve “done well.” I don’t think that perpetuating that idea is helpful for anyone.

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      • I have recently started losing weight. I am shy about receiving compliments, but deep down it makes me feel good because it means my preseverance is paying off. When my family/friends comment, I don’t feel pressured of that they think I looked bad before, I feel like they care about and support me. If they don’t comment, I don’t assume the worst, but I also don’t require their comments to succeed, nor does it change my idea of what a healthy weight is or why I want to achieve that. I like to look at a person’s intentions. If they are trying to be supportive and caring, I take it as just that. No need to get into the worst case scenarios (Ex: They must think I was so fat before!) and/or overthink it. If someone takes it to heart/personally, it is not the compliment or the commenter at fault, they are only trying to be nice/helpful.

        To me, if someone is changing their life/health based on a compliment, than it is a sign that they have some deeper issues to deal with that no number of compliments they do or do not receive will change. Removing compliments would just be putting a bandaid on a broken bone instead of a cast. If this is happening, this is when therapy (not just removing compliments) should occur.

        BUT if it does bother you for whatever reason, then I say let the individual know you don’t like to hear it. Chances are that they won’t be complimenting you again anytime soon. Problem solved.

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      • Ruth says:

        I don’t know. This whole blog is a form of policing, in the guise of “fitness”! I’m worried that it is counterproductive. Here we have someone who is in a body-building competition, and a colleague notices she has lost weight and says good job. If she indicated she was in a “figure competition,” that would seem like a very nice thing to say, since most body-builders I have known spend a lot of time losing weight before competitions. In this context, complaining about the compliment seems weird. But whatever! This becomes the focus of a blog post.

        I will say this: I am in a crossfit gym and NOT ONCE has anyone mentioned losing weight, gaining weight, or any other kind of weight except LIFTING WEIGHTS. It is all about “killing it” (that can be another blog). Most people at the gym are very muscular, most very trim and fit, but half of them/us could drop a few pounds (or more) of fat but it is JUST NOT AN ISSUE. NOT DISCUSSED. EVER. AND NOT BECAUSE OF POLICING. It’s because we really are about being badasses in the gym, doing the pull-ups with less and less assistance, deadlifting, and doing burpees and suicides until you feel like puking.

        I’m starting to think I have subscribed to an eating disorder club without even knowing it. Talking incessantly about weight issues this way is a huge waste of our time. I thought this was a feminist blog. Here’s Caitlin Moran’s test: are the men doing this? If not, it’s sexist, or, as she says, TOTAL FUCKING BULLSHIT (TFB).

        I can guarantee you that men are not wasting their time this way. How much more time are we going to spend talking about our weight, how we feel about our weight, and what other people say about our weight? Maybe the idea of a Feminism + Fitness blog contains some sort of contradiction.

        Blargh!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Leah Backus says:

    I’m honestly kind of verklempt over here. Your blog, and the articles and blogs you link to, has really started to open my eyes. I feel just a tiny crack forming in the layers of body-image BS I’ve accumulated over the years just from living in this society. I’m inspired to learn more about HAES, and some of the other movements and techniques you write about. I’m so pleased I found this blog. Thank you!

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  11. Tracy I says:

    Ruth: This colleague’s experience was just a way into this post. [btw, I have spoken against fitness and figure competitors as models for promoting good health.] This sort of thing happens all the time and lots of people I know (see comments) feel frustrated by it. Obviously Sam and I don’t feel that feminism and fitness are contradictory — there are all sorts of feminist issues about fitness and we enjoy thinking and talking about them. I also take issue with the claim that we are body policing. As far as I’m concerned, no one needs to be committed to fitness or health. People can choose to do whatever they like. But if someone is interested in pursuing health and/or fitness, then we urge them to look at it critically and broadly. This broader view is, unfortunately, not the norm in media or gyms. You’re fortunate to be in a gym where there isn’t any of this nonsense taking place. Perhaps crossfit has a healthier view (never been to a crossfit gym) or perhaps you’ve just lucked out with a good group of people and a nice vibe at your particular gym.

    I’m also not sure I understand your (or Caitlin Moran’s) test for whether something is sexist–if men do it too, not sexist. If they don’t, sexist. That’s completely perplexing. Men don’t give birth — sexist? Seems a bit simplistic, sorry to say.

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  12. shereestrange says:

    I agree with this so much, I could explode.

    When I decided to embark on a quest to improve my health, fitness, and (yes) figure, I lost roughly 30kg. It was almost impossible to speak to friends, family, or even relative strangers without my weight loss being mentioned and complimented. The first few times, it was nice to be noticed, and I am *always* grateful for the good intentions; BUT after some time it became tedious, and I began to feel as though my weight was the only thing others were interested in talking about. (Side note: I experienced similar feelings when completing my Honours thesis at uni – it was as though that was all others were interested in asking about, which in itself is kind of depressing.)

    It also developed into something darker – at my lightest, I received endless comments (well-meaning, once again, I’m sure) about how I was getting “too thin”, and I “needed to eat something”, and I should “ease up and live a little”. These comments were so hurtful, and yet I never felt comfortable pointing that out to the commenters. I would never have said to them, no matter how well meaning, “You know, maybe you should get off the couch once or twice a week,”.

    And the outcome of all of this? Due to a few different factors (some dietary tweaks, lifestyle changes, illness, injury), I’ve actually regained a few kg. I’m not “back at the start” or anything like that, but my physique is definitely not as lean as it was 6 months ago. And it causes a lot of anxiety for me when I anticipate seeing the people who once commented on my thinness – are they going to think less of me now that I’m not as thin? Or are they going to think I’ve been “eating something”?

    Turning into a bit of a rant/personal memoir here – my point is, these comments are very well intentioned and that part is appreciated, but they can also be quite hurtful and damaging. There is nothing wrong with just saying “Hey, you look great!” and leaving judgements about size or thinness or weight out of the equation.

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    • Tracy I says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s amazing how many people think that if something is well-intentioned then it’s automatically okay. Not so. Your experience is a good illustration of that.

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  13. @Sageling says:

    It’s amazing how “but I meant well!” seems to give some people a free pass. As a friend of mine is apt to say, “Intent is not magic.” Good intentions, while nice, don’t hold up against a not-so-good outcome.

    I’ve had an up and down track record with weight and obesity my whole life. The only time I haven’t been obese was during Weight Watchers, where I got down to ~153 lbs at age 16 and at 5’10”. I’m a tall girl with a hefty frame, and all my pictures from that time show me looking absurdly underweight. Big head in proportion to my body, prominent collar bone. And no matter what I did, I couldn’t lose those last 3 lbs to make it to goal weight.

    I had been, and have been since, “that fat unpopular person” throughout most of my life, and it was phenomenal how people started paying attention to me and complimenting me on my weight once I started to lose. People I had NEVER TALKED TO in my life came up to me, with the best intentions in their heart. Where were they when I was being bullied, by students and teachers, about my weight? When I sat alone every single day at lunch?

    I gained more than twice that weight back after quitting WW in frustration. Now I’m 23 and trying to become more healthy and, yes, lose weight. But I’m looking at the weight loss as an extremely long term project and, in the meantime, doing my best to look and feel good with the body I’ve got. Eating delicious and filling foods, going to the gym, picking out clothes that fit and LOOK GOOD ON ME (and fuck everyone if I’m going to wear baggy tents anymore just because I’ve got a glorious pear shaped body), spending time with makeup and anything else I want to. Right now I’m fat and I might BE fat my whole life, but that doesn’t mean I need to be miserable, or put up with anyone’s shit.

    And it has been SO FRUSTRATING to have others — especially family members — policing what I eat and how I look. Especially since I was taken to Burger King almost every day after school for dinner, and was overweight probably starting around preschool. My mother alternated between an incredibly unhealthy lifestyle (fast food and no exercise for us!) and and incredibly unhealthy dieting outlook that persists to this day. I feel like I know so much more about nutrition and fitness than anyone else because I’ve spent all this time researching and actually paying attention to what I put in my mouth, but because I’m obese I must be stupid and a mindless automaton who rolls around in lard and jelly donuts.

    I’m so tired of others denying me my personal agency. Sorry for the rant, and thank you so much for the blog.

    Like

  14. Roz Batson says:

    Really enjoyed your blog (as always). I am just tired of weight being a topic of conversation – there are so many better things to talk about with my friends than kg’s. Over the last four years I have developed a love of running, more for the mental benefits than anything else. It did have a positive impact on my body shape and I find myself being rather dismissive when people comment about my weight loss. The fact that I managed to run a marathon is a much more personally rewarding outcome together with the feeling of being physically strong and a good role model for my children. Lately I have added swimming to my life and going to the local pool really demonstrates how we come in ALL shapes and sizes and it is all good. Being healthy, fit and strong is my goal. I will not comment on a person’s weight loss but rather what they might have achieved on their fitness journey (if they have one!). Thanks again for the great posts.

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  15. […] You’ve lost weight you look great isn’t a compliment  This one really resonates with me, I haven’t yet commented as I am wondering whether to put down my feelings in a blog as they are quite long but I think my basic opinion is we need to STOP using weight as a way of complementing or dissing someone. […]

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  16. […] I at Fit, Feminist, and (almost) Fifty unpacks some of the deeper implications of this compliment, and its collusion within a structure of […]

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  17. […] great articles on this topic: Everyday Feminism XO Jane Fit is a Feminist Issue The Current […]

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