I have a question for you. Yes. Again. I realize two of my last posts  have been based around questions.

But now, I shall ask you this;

When did ‘Did you lose weight?’ become a compliment?

I am not on some feministic, body-loving rant here. I am not. I am currently not in the position (if you need one to have such a rant) or state to do so. I am simply angry and mostly; incredibly hurt.

I had forgotten about that. About how off that is. How wrong. How wrong it is to see losing weight as something positive. I had forgotten.

My aunt used to joke about it. As she did with everything she felt could use a little ‘lightening up’. My family is… overweight. Actually, that side of my family is… I think 85% obese. If not more. And when she halved herself and the rest didn’t, she said she had ‘finally found the trick’. Yes, it was expensive. But it worked wonders! Her answer? Cancer.

She suffered from cancer for years and years. Beat the doctors, the diagnosis, the prospects a million times. We said goodbyes over and over, her doing the same, and then a week later, tadaaa, she would miraculously clear up again for a bit and plough on. She was such an amazing lady, this one. Tough yet sweet and always funny.

And a self-proclaimed weight-loss wonder.

The irony in her jokes said it all though; how wrong it is that losing weight is somehow an achievement. Something positive. Something to celebrate. When in reality, it was her dying.

And I forgot about it.

Until my friend commented on how he had lost 15kg in a month. He’s a big guy. Still is. 15kg is something he can easily lose, while still looking like he can lose a few more. Something people will compliment him about. And yet, it is him dying.

I ask you again; How is ‘did you lose weight?’ a compliment? An achievement? Something positive? Celebratory?

Why is the image that losing weight is something to celebrate, when losing weight means losing life?


18 thoughts on “Losing

  1. It is because we are fucked up enough to place aesthetic considerations over what really matters, because we are judgmental enough to make an evaluation of a person’s entire life based on their outside appearance and finally because weight loss is seen as a form of self control or self improvement and these are more important than everything else. Apparently.
    I’m sorry you’re struggling, Sooz, I really hope things get better soon.

    • I also really think our image has grown skewed. We are so used to ‘thin’ people in the media, that we actually believe this is ‘normal’ and thus ‘healthy’. It’s not that we all value aesthetics over health, I think we associate ‘thin’ with healthy. Which is simply not true!

  2. Shocking, really shocking yet sadly true. I sometimes feel there is something very wrong with our society when weight loss and ‘thinness’ are encouraged rather than being a cause for concern. I was always told I looked ‘great’ by friends and family when I was initially losing. No one questioned the rate of weight loss until I was noticably ‘too thin!’

    I think it’s rather telling that ‘thinness’ is in no shape or form healthy (no, this isn’t me being all ‘feminist’ and ‘love your body’… God forbid!) I’m pointing out facts biologically. Thinness and weight loss are a sign of illness, not health.

    I really hope you’re ok. I can only imagine how hard this all must be for you.


    • A girl I study with just came back from fieldwork in Mali and she was told a LOT of people commented on being concerned about her; was she ill? She was so frail!

      She’s not even what ‘our society’ would consider ‘thin’.

      Oh man, it’s just so weird

      • Society? Y u so fucked up?

        When my BMI hit 16, I had a girl in my class come up to me and say ‘wow! You’ve lost so much weight! What’s your secret?’

        My secret? I was starving myself to death.

        That reminded me of something I read about African tribes being shown pictures of ‘beautiful’ western models and them saying ‘these women are very ill and will die soob.’ In some cultures being bigger is a sign of wealth and prosperity.

        I’ve realised today (yey me realising things!) that I’m a healthy weight, I’m what I should be! Yeah I went against what ‘society’ wants, but fuck society! I want cheese, chocolate and bacon (not mixed together obs :D)

        15 kg is a worrying amount of weight to lose, and yeah, it’s because this man is ill. Weight loss is in no way healthy!

        I hope you’re ok.


      • In Malaysia the mission was, always, to ‘fatten me up’, as they called it. And I was at my heaviest back then…..

  3. It’s a sign of how f*cked up society is for sure. That we place more importance on weight and appearance than on what really matters – heart and spirit.
    I wish that people would mind their own business and just leave other people’s bodies alone. I’m sick of the comments about my weight gain, and about my weight loss.
    I’ve read of people who have been complimented on weight loss through cancer or something like that. Who have had people jealous of them for their thinness when they, like us with ED, are actively dying. People suck.
    I think your Aunt has big issues beyond cancer :(
    I’m worried about you, Sooz, I’m sorry I haven’t been getting through my emails very well lately, I have a hugely swollen inbox and the notifications for your posts are in there somewhere – otherwise I would have read your past posts already. I’ll catch up! But it sounds like you are not going well at all either. Hang on tight, okay? Anything I can do to help you please let me know. You have been such a support to me, I would love to be able to help you too.
    Love Fi xoxox

    • My aunt doesnt have any issues. She passed away a few years ago. Which is why I had forgotten about the whole thing until my friend brought up the comments about his weightloss. And she didnt, actually. She just had an awesome, sarcastic sense of humor (which we shared). As I said before, for me too, sometimes the only way of dealing with things is to make (even if it is sadistic) jokes about it. It helps put things into some form of perspective, and keeps me grounded, I suppose

  4. I know what you mean. Some people lose so much weight because they are ill- they don’t want to, yet their body is eating itself up. And they get praised for it. Some people long to eat – yet can’t swallow -so lose weight- they would do anything to eat and taste real food again, to damn with how big they are as long as they enjoy life… but can’t. Just have to keep reminding ourselves what health and TRUE beauty really is. And its just sad that people are so preoccupied about looks. Even today – I was asked by someone what my secret was to being skinny, and she wished she could be like me. Well.. I wouldn’t wish this hell on anyone. And at my thinnest-literally skin and bones- being approached to model? Now THAT’s crazy. THAT’s why there’s such ridiculous concept of beauty if we’re surrounded by magazines that portray images of STARVING and DYING people…

  5. Sometimes losing weight means gaining life……and then praise is appropriate. But when your girlfriend with an extra 5 pounds drops 10 after a depression or stressful life event? We see that all the time in the media…people glorifying their flu or breakup or whatever with “the only thing good to come out of it is I lost weight.”

    Never really thought much about it till now. So thanks for getting me all riled up. LOL. You are so good in bringing out my inner fighter.

    • Gain weight = gain life. See here: https://mundanebrain.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/the-binge-monster/ (final paragraph)

      And yes, losing weight can mean gaining life too. But only if done in a healthy way. Dropping 15kg in 3 weeks is never healthy, and whether it is terminal cancer, severe pneumonia (=how my weightloss once started), TB or whatever, if you really look at someone you can see whether its healthy or not. Your entire self changes when you become that ill you lose that much weight; it is not at all in the self-empowering way that healthy weightloss can mean

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