This email landed in our inbox this week, and it inspired me to add a new category called “Ask BFD” to file this post under. I’m going to try and go back and tag some of the terrific posts that have sprung from reader questions. In the meantime, I think this is a great question, and I look forward to reading the responses! Bolding here, as per usual, is mine.
Dear BFD folks,
I have been a reading your blog for awhile and need some advice from you (and the readers) on something. I really hope you can take the time to help me out.
I’ll try to keep a long story short, but here’s some background: I’ve been fat since puberty (I’m in my early 30s now, topped out at about 280 lbs. and a size 22/24). I was teased all through school for my weight, and made the mistake of reading magazines like Cosmo (which just kept telling me that I wasn’t thin or pretty enough) so I had no self-esteem until I found the FA movement in my 20s. I have been a happy fat girl with rockin’ self-esteem ever since.
Last year I moved to a new town and began to work from home. I love working from home, but my workaholic tendencies (coupled with the fact that my commute is now ten feet from my bedroom) meant that I would be at home all day and often didn’t go outside or see another person except for my boyfriend. I was not happy with this. In an effort to take a break from work and go out into the world and see actual people, I began to swim laps every day at a nearby pool. I love it! The physical activity feels great, I’m out in the world, and I have a couple of hours a day where I don’t have to read emails and deal with work.
In starting this new physical activity, weight loss was not my goal. I just wanted to get out and do more with my body than click a mouse. But, as can happen with exercise and healthful eating (I was already a veggie-lover), I am starting to lose weight. My friends and family have been noticing and making the positive comments that everyone makes in these situations. Namely: “You look great – have you lost weight?”
So here’s my problem: How do I deal with these comments? I don’t want to tell them that I have lost weight, because I feel like that’s leading them to believe that I buy into the Western Beauty Standard BS that being thin is the ideal and if you’re fat you automatically wish you were thin and diet all the time. But I also don’t want to shame them for giving me a compliment because, after all, they are my family and friends and they only mean well.
I thought about saying something like, “Thank you for noticing I have changed, but I prefer not to discuss my body,” but that sounds a little…standoffish and like something you’d say to a stranger and not your mom or your best girlfriend. If it’s possible, I’d actually like to steer the praise to the fact that I’m dropping 60+ laps a day at the pool. That is such an amazing thing to me that I did not know I could achieve and that means way more to me than what size dress I’m wearing these days. And, if I’m swimming that far at 280 lbs., every day, the haters who think us fatties just sit on the couch and eat cupcakes all day have to suck it hard now, right? :)
Thanks in advance,
Here is an old Shapely Prose post answering this very question!
Aunt Fattie’s recommendation: variations on the theme of “really? I hadn’t noticed.” For people who are keenly attuned to others’ weight fluctuations, this is guaranteed to blow their minds. It is not rude or dismissive, but the genuine indifference not to the weight loss compliment but to weight loss itself alerts people that something unusual is going on here.
I’m sure poking around in the comments of that thread will yield some other good advice. BFD readers, what do you think?
Posted by mo pie