Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Not A Compliment

Most days, I try not to let the things people say irk me. Most days, I succeed. And then some days I just want to take people who say things without thinking and give them a lecture.

Today, let's review what IS and IS NOT a compliment.

Compliments include:
"You look great!"
"I love your style."
"You're just glowing today."
"You've got gorgeous eyes."

Compliments do NOT include:
"Have you lost weight?"
"Nice tits!" yelled from across the street
"I'd hit that."
"You're looking so thin."

The compliments listed seem pretty self-explanatory to me. The non-compliments may take a little more doing. I would hope that anyone reading this could be able to identify that the non-compliments a la street harassment are clearly NOT compliments. The ones that seem to trip people up are the ones accepted by society as value statements, i.e., ones about weight.

Weight for me is a touchy subject. It's one of my most volatile triggers and its something I need to be really careful about. Only in the past few years have I even come to the realization that I am allowed to love myself even if I don't have a supermodel's (or my more conventionally attractive sisters') body. Granted, society still has a lot of catching up to do. 

When I hear the words "Have you lost weight?" they don't register as a compliment. They sound like a simple question to me, so I tend to answer simply. Usually with something like "I don't know; I don't actively track my weight." To me it's like asking someone "Did you get your hair cut recently?". There is no value assigned to that statement. I could love or hate your new hairstyle, but my inquiring about it doesn't indicate my praise or admiration. The underlying implication in the "compliment" of "Have you lost weight?" is that I am more beautiful, more socially acceptable if I have. It's also a subtle jab from society to remind me that as a fat woman I'm supposed to think of myself as ugly and unworthy unless I manage to lose weight or am waging a battle against my fat. 

As I continue in my journey to health (NOT weight loss, but health) and personal wellness, I have to constantly remind myself that I am "okay" and even fantastic despite what I hear every day. Sometimes the "compliments", well-intentioned as they may be, make it the hardest to continue on. After all, at least I know the routine of self-hate. It's all familiar to me. What is new and different and oh-so-unfamiliar is the idea and the practice of loving myself in spite of and even BECAUSE OF my socially unacceptable flaws (including my fat face and my Buddha belly, thank you very much).

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