Tuesday, 17 February 2009

"you've lost weight..." awkwardness

So, I've lost weight. A not insignificant amount of weight. I didn't do it on purpose - posting here, I feel mildly guilty about it, though, as I said, not on purpose - and I don't care about it for its own sake. That, in itself, is a sign of recovery. I don't know exactly how much, but it's at least two stone (28lbs). I'm still fat, of course, and now I'm saggy as well. But I'm not bothered by either of those things. No, what's beginning to bother me is the compliments.

It's become noticeable, you see, and people are commenting. And I feel deeply awkward in answering them, because...Well, let's see:

(a) I feel awkward because I don't value the weight loss for its own sake - the only reason I value it at all is because it's a sign of my recovery. Well, and because now I can buy clothes in Marks & Spencer and other shops that stock up to my new size, but no further. That's quite good too. Makes shopping easier and less restricted.

(b) I feel awkward because I don't want to say "thank you" as though I think it's inherently complimentary that people are remarking on my weight loss, especially when it's not like they're just saying "You look fantastic, is something different?" They say "You've lost weight" or "have you lost weight?" or "those trousers are swimming on you", and they expect those things to be interpreted as compliments of the highest order, and I just don't feel that they are. Oh, I say thank you, because it's expected, and because I know they mean to be nice. Or, if they ask me if I've lost weight, I say, "maybe, I'm not sure". But I don't put the value on the weight loss they do, and therefore I don't see this as a compliment. It's just...an observation. I've lost weight. It's true. It doesn't equal "you're so beautiful" or "you're so clever" or "I think you're awesome". It's like saying "you cut your hair". It only becomes a compliment when they follow it up with, "you look great". But with weight loss, they assume that the observation is in itself complimentary. And so I thank them, but it makes me feel awkward.

(c) I feel awkward because people who see weight loss also ask how I did it. And I don't particularly want to announce to every casual work acquaintance who hasn't seen me for a couple of months that I've finally got into recovery from a soul-destroying eating disorder, and I have no goddamn diet tips because I didn't go on a goddamn diet. AWKWARD.

(d) I feel awkward because I don't enjoy this kind of conversation. It makes me self-conscious, and I don't want to be self-conscious. I'm making peace with my body - other people remarking on it makes me feel like it's not just mine. This, I recognise, is my issue, not theirs.

And look, I do know that people are trying to be nice, trying to compliment me, and I've appreciated a lot that those people who know about my eating disorder AREN'T giving me "you've lost weight" compliments, even if they're aware of the weight loss.

I'm just finding it awkward.