Q&A: Who do you love?


The Question: 

Your point about not making a big deal about losing weight, and trying to avoid conversations about it, makes a lot of sense to me! I actually find it a bit offensive when people comment on my body and weight. As I see it, the praise for weight loss is really a critique of the heavier version of me. For a while my weight had been going up, but lately – finally – I have some balance with my eating and my clothes feel a bit looser. I am beginning to worry about when the comments will start.

It is so deep in our culture that a woman’s worth is closely linked to her appearance and attractiveness, and we have decided that being full bodied or overweight is unattractive. Fat shaming is widespread and often subtle. So any well-intended comment telling me I look better feels like a critique of what I used to look like – and may very well look like again. Then, when I put on weight again and nobody says anything, I very much remember those comments – and they hurt.

All of this shifts my focus and motivation, so I get rebellious with my eating. I don’t want other people to judge what I eat or the size of my body. Both are very private to me, so the comments feel invasive. A positive comment is still a judgment, even if it is a positive judgment. I guess part of my problem with food and body image come from a lack of unconditional love, feeling unlovable and being too judgmental with myself.

My eating is best when I keep it private as much as I can. So comments disturb my balance. I worry that the attention will put stress on me, and offset this sensitive balance that I have at the moment.

Another thing that provokes me is the widespread belief that weight loss is simple, and you simply need to pull yourself together – so if you are overweight that means you are lazy and greedy. I believe that stress, sleeplessness, traumas, loneliness, hormones, inflammation, genetics, intestinal flora and lots of other things play a huge role – making it easier for some to stay slim and a lot harder for others to not overeat. I certainly find that the more balance I have emotionally or physiologically, the easier it is for me to not overeat (and follow your advice). People trying to motivate me to keep up the weight loss by telling me how much it suits me reveal an assumption that I choose or chose to be overweight and simply didn’t want hard enough to be slim.

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  1. Suzy

    Hi I had the same problem when I recently lost 2 stone during a diet for healing my body and working toward bringing it back to balance. I too felt they were actually saying that how I was before was not acceptable. I was shocked by the amount of people who felt they needed to comment on my weight.
    The weight loss, for me, was a bonus and certainly not my focus at the beginning. I ended up being seduced by other peoples reactions and comments into believing there was something wrong with me. I now know that taking care of my body is the most beautiful act of loving kindness I could bestow on myself.
    I am no longer open to other peoples opinions about my weight!

  2. Sarah

    Thank you so so much for this Question and Answer! It is so thought provoking and confirms just how my mind set is most days. I have really become aware of my self critic and trying to change, although it takes lots and lots of effort as you have said Gillian. Kindness and love to myself I now realise is the most important thing that can help me to get to a healthy weight one day. Thank you very much to the person who put this question to Gillian. Your honesty will help many others as well as yourself I hope. Sarah

  3. Jane

    Thanks for this question and answer – it has helped me as I see I’ve fallen (temporarily) back into self-criticism, a habit from childhood, and not helpful. The statement made by Suzy is perfect:
    taking care of my body is the most beautiful act of loving kindness I could bestow on myself.
    Heavenly! So off I go now to my Pilates class and will enjoy the way my body moves, and simply watch the mind as it tries to criticise what I can and can’t do 🙂

  4. Julie-ann

    I must have been drawn to this page for a reason. I am having such a black day being critical of every aspect of myself. This question and answer has moved me to list everything that is good about me and think about why other people love me. Others often see qualities in us that we fail to see. Sometimes it may help to ask them then consider the answers and add them to your ‘I love me because…’ list.

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