Don’t worry, this post is not going to be a woe-is-me, I’m skinny now and need to buy new clothes post.
Though, uh, none of my summer clothes fit, you guys, for real. And can we just stop for a minute and say that now I look tired all the damn time? And it made me look my age (which is 4+ years older than I appeared before).
No, this post is going to be about the biggest problem I’ve encountered with losing weight. It took me a while to get here, but thanks to my fantastic, EMDR-trained therapist (who I’m never, ever going to be able to stop paying, I’m such an onion of problems), I know what the real problem is.
It didn’t fix anything.
I know, this sounds like a totally unrealistic expectation to have for weight loss results, but give me five seconds to explain.
You see, I’d be willing to bet, based on zero scientific studies, that 75% of people who say they’re losing weight just to get healthy think they hate their body a little bit. Because you can go for your yearly check up once a year and be told, “You need to lose weight,” and carry on with your life as normal the rest of the 364 days a year if you like your body. There needs to be something else there to motivate you, as Scrubs clearly points out.
Now, there’s still that 25% who didn’t hate their bodies in my estimations, so don’t jump all over me just yet. But that 75% of people probably blame their bodies for other problems in their lives, too. I know I did.
Months ago, I posted about how I was sending away my too-large clothes and the insecurities attached to them. Those insecurities? I thought that once I lost weight, they would all go away. People would stop judging me and I would be more confident and, pathetic as it is to say, I thought I’d have more luck in my friendships and romances.
Don’t get me wrong, how much I allow other peoples’ opinions to matter is all on me – and it’s something I’ve been working on. I mentioned this particular weakness in my ‘Three Little Words‘ post. But before I lost weight, I spent so much energy being nice, letting people walk all over me – whatever – to make up for the fact that I wasn’t attractive. I thought that once was thinner, I would be able to stop doing all that, and people would value me more as a friend, relative, what have you.
GOD, was I wrong. If anything, it made things more complicated. Any time a major dynamic changes in any type of relationship – friendship, relative, truest of soulmates – there’s an adjustment that has to take place. The way you see the person changes, and how you act around each other. For some of my friends, it was smooth and flawless. For others? Well, let’s just say they liked me when I wasn’t a social threat due to my size, but now they’re not so sure.
So yeah, I can say with certainty that these body image issues are not a problem related exclusively to people with extreme body shapes. Everyone, regardless of shape or size, faces criticism based on their eating habits or looks. It’s almost enough to make me think that Liz has the right idea here…
Food doesn’t interrupt. Food understands. But that’s not so much healthy, so we’re forced to have actual human interaction instead, which unfortunately leads to the judging and insecurities.
Why do we do this to each other? I don’t understand! The toll it takes on the people in our society is shocking. On April 9, Dove posted a new one of their ad campaigns that made me cry at my desk. I encourage you to watch the full thing, even if you don’t use Dove products – it’s not so much an ad as it is a public service announcement (though as a J-school grad, I understand how it’s the best kind of ad).
The women in this video all have something that they don’t like about themselves – their arms, their noses, their age…and I bet most of them have parts of themselves that they try to compensate for, in one way or another.
After I reached my goal weight, I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t feel magically more confident. I expected my personal relationships to get easier – they didn’t. I expected the mean comments and critical looks to vanish – they didn’t. They just…changed. They still happen, they just come from different people for different reasons.
Eating dessert at a restaurant:
Before: Judgmental looks from average people because I clearly didn’t need the sweet stuff and/or had no self control.
After: Envious/angry looks from people with weight issues because clearly I couldn’t understand their struggle.
Jogging/walking my dog around the neighborhood:
Before: Disgusted looks from average people because I wasn’t a stick.
After: “Oh, God, I didn’t know I lived next door to one of those people who flaunt their workouts to make the rest of us feel bad.” (Sidenote: WHO DOES THAT?)
Using the 3-way dressing room mirror:
Before: “Oh, honey, that looks…nice on you. Maybe wear a cami underneath to make it lie smoother?”
After: “Oh, everything looks good on someone as young as you – you can wear whatever you want, why are you even bothering looking in the mirror?”
Turns out, people can be awful to you no matter what you look like. Huh.
The good news is that people can also be wonderful to you, no matter what you look like, too. That’s the real blessing of life – the truly good people in this world, who make me remember that it’s not at all about what’s on the outside.
I’m so lucky to have so many of the best type in my corner.