The other day a coworker said, “You look really good! I can tell you are losing weight.” I think most people would be tickled to receive such a compliment. I, on the other hand, bristled a bit.
It is true that I am losing weight. After having my third child and also taking care of my mom for the last two years as she lost her battle to breast cancer, the time finally came that I could focus on my health. The thing I find interesting is that the many times I saw this coworker in my formerly more fluffy state, she never commented on my appearance. Which I guess is good if she was thinking, “Jeez, what a fat ass, I can barely squeeze by her!” And it’s not that I would’ve wanted her to say something like, “I can really tell that you are grieving, what with the extra twenty pounds and all, but I want you to know you still look good.” I find this compulsion people have to comment on weight loss pretty fascinating.
Ten years ago, when I had my own battle with cancer, I lost weight. I lost weight, I lost hair. Chemotherapy will do that to you. No one ever said, “Damn, gurl, you look great with that bald head and svelte body.” Lucky for me I had awesome coworkers and friends who made me feel good about that sexy bald head (my husband and one of my dearest friends both shaved in solidarity).
My question is: How much more attractive am I really now that I’ve shed those twenty pounds? At this stage in my life I’ve lost the weight in order to take care of my heart and reduce the risk of having cancer again. Sure it feels good to be in sexier jeans, and shopping is a little more fun. But how much has my beauty quota truly gone up? And isn’t the deafening lack of commentary on my looks when I am fluffier a reflection on how screwed up we are about body type?
Tonight my husband asked me how much more weight I plan on losing. In the past I would’ve wanted to get down to a pre-pregnancy weight. But now that I’m in my forties, I’m pretty satisfied having a healthy body with a little fluff. What it takes to get down to what I maintained in my twenties would require largely giving up most of the foods I enjoy while adding an extra six hours of work outs a week. So, as long as my ticker is good, I can live with this body. I don’t mind if my kids have a little extra mom fluff to hug.