Hey, You’ve Put on Weight Huh?

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This is a maddening thing.

And while I purport to be all brave and strong and not give a shit about it, it still irritates the shit out of me when it happens. It’s this:

The other day, I bumped into a lady that I haven’t seen in about three years. Three years, okay – a lot can happen in three years. In fact, a lot did happen in the last three years.

She asked me how I was, immediately after which she commented on how I have put on weight.

Yes, I am probably larger than what I was the last time she saw me, three years ago. But, from working out five times a week, I am now a slimmer, fitter, healthier, happier, more toned version of what I have yo-yo’d up and down to be in ages; and while I’m not yet at my ideal weight, this is the best I have felt, healthwise in a long time.

Imagine then, how aggravating it is to have my entire well-being, health, efforts in fitness, progress in life and accomplishments – after three years – summed up entirely by the size I am right now.

It seems there’s just no getting away from it for me. The fluctuations in my fat percentage are more highly debated contentious than conflicts in the Middle East.

Arg, why do people do this? Okay, so I get it that first impressions counts, but that sort of ceases to be a valid excuse anymore when you’ve actually known these people for ages and they know far more intimate things about you than your dress size.

The interesting thing too, is that it also works the other way. If I was thinner than what I’d been the last time that lady saw me, there would undoubtedly have been comments about that too: “Wow, you’ve lost so much weight, huh!? You’re so thin now!” Etc.

Sometimes, worse, they ask you about your weight. “What happened?” they ask, all mock-concerned. “You’ve put on weight!” like something terrible happened – like someone died, or you had a terrible accident, or you fucked up in a really bad way when you got caught smuggling child slaves across the border.

I have also heard similar snide comments about:
– people’s complexions (“Wah! Why are you so dark now?”)
– their hair (“Eh, why lah your hair so short now? It’s not nice, lah. Last time was better.”)
– the lines on their face (“You look so haggard now, why? You very tired, issit?)
and, goodness forbid, even their teeth (“You did something to your teeth ar? I don’t like it. It doesn’t look good” ~ honest to God, these were their very words.)

Why? Why are the details of someone’s appearance still so shoutingly important for us to feel that uncontrollable need to comment on it just moments after meeting them? Why is it that just one changing physical aspect of a person sums up everything about him, the state of his life, the stability of his family and the health of his pet goldfish?

Why is it that you feel that it’s important to comment on their weight but not, say, the fact that they’ve had a significantly huge career change, that they’ve just won an award / published a book / began a life-changing charity? Why isn’t it enough to simply say that they look well, healthy and good?

Yes, you know, I like to look good. I like to be able to wear anything I like and feel confident and happy and trim about it. I admit I do also like being complimented when I look well, whatever size I am, hair-style I’m sporting or number of freckles on my face.

What I don’t like is someone pointing out something about my appearance like it’s a defect – and you know they very well mean it like that because they usually say it with a bit of a sneer or, worse, a sort of pseudo-apologetic condescension. Like they feel bad about you being fat / thin / too dark / too pale, but well, actually…. not really *snort*. It’s just downright rude, damnit, and insulting.

If you’re going to say something about the way I look then you better have a damn good reason for it: like you’re concerned maybe that I might drop dead from coronary heart failure while we’re chatting in the middle of Bangsar Shopping Center. Or “Ooooh, you’re looking a little pale, are you not feeling well? Let’s sit you down somewhere”.

Better yet, proffer some wonderful solutions to help me look like this supposedly perfect vision you’ve got in your head that you’re expecting everyone to look like (and really, unless you look as good as this perfect vision in your head, you’d better start keeping your opinions to yourself)

For example – I have this mad, bad idiot of a friend who’s heard me whinge about wanting to lose weight forever. So when he sees me, he punches me on the arm and shouts, “Okay, fatty! You’re fat again hahahahahahah Let’s go to the gym. I’ll train you” (he really does talk like that). Then I scream back something about how that dumb crew cut he’s got makes him look like a misshapen peanut, and if he would only grow his hair out, I’ll bring him to an awesome stylist. Then we laugh and I slaps on the head and we go for vodkas. (In the end, no training at the gym and no stylist).

My weight, my dress size and the measurement of my waistline is just that – all mine. My business, my problem (if it is even a problem), my right to choose to change, or not. If I’m putting on weight, getting a bit tubby round the middle, I think I’d notice. Putting on a few pounds doesn’t also make me blind and stupid, you know? I don’t need you to give me a running commentary on my appearance as a) education b) motivation or c) documented evidence about the state of my health.

So whatever you have to say about me putting on weight, is well, pointless really, isn’t it? And rude and insulting… unless that was the point? And if it was, then well, lady, that’s not a very good, nor pretty, reflection of your own social graces or charm is it?

You may well be slimmer / fairer/ have a nicer hair cut than me, but just by making comments like these, you’ve instantly made yourself far more unattractive in every other area of your self and being.

It cancels out, bitch.

Pix from pinterest (kay see)

4 thoughts on “Hey, You’ve Put on Weight Huh?

  1. Aha. I think we attract these comments when we are focusing more about the way we look rather than the way we feel. It’s the law of attraction working! I’ve noticed that when I am not trying to lose weight, when I am having fun times or involved in absorbing and uplifting work projects then I get more comments like “hey, you look great! What are you on? ”

    I just wish I could be more relaxed about my outer appearance all the time!

    I also have found the directness and personal comments about appearance of the negative kind are more likely to be heard in KL than London! Aha. Why would that be? Is it a cultural issue? Or are the English less honest?

  2. I think its just a cultural thing. In my culture, people feel the need to comment on your weight, no matter how well or badly you carry it or feel about yourself. It is just a small talk session, like the weather. Which however, does not make it right. Pity is, it does to get to you anyway, no matter how content you are with yourself and the way you look. It still gets to you. You can push it to the back of your mind, but that little voice will continue to whisper ever so often. I remember YEARS ago, a lady made a comment on my acne. Need I mention, she did not have peachy skin either, but I have never really gotten past that. And even when I see her now, YEARS after the acne has cleared, I am just waiting for her to make a comment on my skin. Need I mention, she always has to mention my weight too (have been plus-sized ALL my life) and make cheeky comments like “you are starting to look older than your mother”. Then you wonder why people get “hurt” (to be read as killed) in this world.

  3. In some anti-matter mirror universe, maybe fatter bodies are considered sexy and desirable. Or maybe that’s the POSITIVE universe, and you’re living in the negative universe!

    Really, very few of us look like models–and even they don’t stay that way their whole lives. The whole emphasis on thinness is an arbitrary cultural value which goes way beyond any legitimate health considerations. But the world is full of people with other ideas, as a casual googling of the acronyms “FA” and “BBW” will reveal!

  4. Everyone, thanks for your comments. I think yes, perhaps it is a cultural thing although I haven’t quite figured out why it’s such a predominant part of Asian culture. What baffles me is why they think they need to point out something that is not only negative, but obvious – I mean, I think I would know if I have put on weight, am having a bad acne break-out, went in the sun and my skin got darker. Does it make themselves feel better to say something negative about someone else? Surely that can be the only reason. For what truly happy, self-confident person would go around insulting other people?

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