When it comes to body image, my theory is this: you are whatever you were as a child. Were you thin or fat during your formative years? That’s your body image for life, right there, regardless of what the scale and the mirror say. If you were a pudgy child but are now a thin adult, you still think of yourself as pudgy. And vice versa.
Mentally, I am a thin person, even though I’m not really that thin anymore. I will never fit into my wedding dress again, or my favorite black linen Anne Taylor dress from the 1980s. As a kid, of course, I hated being skinny. I didn’t want my hipbones to stick out. I wanted curves, or at least to just be of average weight, like most of the population.
My Girl Scout manual had advice for girls like me. “Drink a milkshake each afternoon, and walk around the block before supper to increase your appetite.” A) my mom wouldn’t let me drink a milkshake every day, that was a special treat and besides, wouldn’t it ruin my appetite? B) exercise tends to decrease appetite, or at least offset any caloric intake. Although I might have burned all of 20 calories walking around the block.
Be careful what you wish for. I have finally achieved an unprecedented level of plumpitude, with curves and everything.
Twice in the last week, someone said to me “Have you lost weight?” Back when I was a size 6, I never understood why my less skinny friends would get so upset whenever anyone asked them this question. I would respond in bafflement, “But isn’t it a compliment?”
Now I get it. Totally. I completely understand why my friends were offended by this question. It’s as freighted with meaning as the old unfunny query “Are you still beating your wife?” Either way you answer, you lose.
Subtext of the question: “You need to lose weight, maybe you’ve lost a pound or two, but there’s lots more to go.” Or “You actually look the same but you NEED to lose weight.” Or “You looked like hell last week, but slightly better now.”
To further deconstruct the issue, it matters who asks it, and how. If the question comes from a true and dear friend and is said with enthusiasm, then and only then is it good. But if it’s from a frenemy or a toxic relative, bad.
The best advice is this: unless you’re talking to your closest friend, don’t ask others about weight losses or gains. Following this simple rule will help bring peace and happiness to the world.Agree or disagree?