And that’s a great thing
“You’re so thin!”
“You look amazing!”
“What’s your secret?”
When I embarked on my weight loss journey, I expected to hear some version of these things. After all, my friends and family knew my struggles with gaining weight after taking anti-psychotics to battle bipolar 2 disorder. Plus, I had also been subjected to acquaintances’ thoughtless comments about my 70lb weight gain.
So why hasn’t anyone noticed my substantial weight loss? After all, as a petite woman, losing even 10lbs results in me dropping a dress size or two.
In the United States, losing weight and being thin are equated to being “healthy.” A quick browse through any publication geared toward women will turn up numerous stories on how to lose weight, find lower calorie dupes, or tips for dressing to look slimmer. Even with the current body-positive movement, American society celebrates thinness and weight loss, and many doctors still push the antiquated BMI chart as a benchmark of health.
I’ve written before about my experience with a doctor deeming me obese based solely on my BMI number and not on my actual physical appearance. At the time, I exercised regularly and ate well-balanced, healthy meals, but no matter what I did, my weight remained “high” for my height. That changed late last year when under the care of my psychiatrist, I started weening off many of the medications that had caused my rapid weight gain. As the pounds came off, I was sure someone would notice and compliment my success.
But I lost ten pounds, and no one mentioned it. Twenty pounds and crickets. Thirty pounds and three dress sizes…nothing.
Finally, I asked a friend about it. Her response changed my perception of how I view others’ weight loss.
“I didn’t know if you were sick again or not.”
It never occurred to me that losing weight could be unwanted even though, before my bipolar diagnosis, I had shed twenty pounds in a month due to stress and heartbreak. At the time, everyone commented on my disappearing figure — much to my distress. I didn’t want my pain to be publicly visible, and I had forgotten how upsetting those comments were.