People are weird about human bodies. We’re weird about what comes out of them, what goes into them, and what we do with them. But the thing that people tend to be weirdest about, regarding the human body, is weight. Gaining it, losing it, whatever–if you make any change to your body, you can be all but guaranteed that someone will take note. And, generally, there is a specific connotation that goes along with both gaining and losing weight–gaining weight is thought of as being bad, while losing weight is considered to be something to be celebrated.
But losing weight isn’t always good. Lena Dunham made headlines this weekend for losing some weight, and many of the publications that covered this weight loss initially did so with a congratulatory tone–which, as it turns out, Dunham wasn’t happy about. She’s following a healthy diet to attempt to control her endometriosis, and losing weight just so happens to be a byproduct of it, and not necessarily an ultimate goal, as many people seemed to think it was.
Thank you for this @Refinery29. I feel I've made it pretty clear over the years that I don't give even the tiniest of shits what anyone else feels about my body. I've gone on red carpets in couture as a size 14. I've done sex scenes days after surgery, mottled with scars. I've accepted that my body is an ever changing organism, not a fixed entity- what goes up must come down and vice versa. I smile just as wide no matter my current size because I'm proud of what this body has seen and done and represented. Chronic illness sufferer. Body-shaming vigilante. Sexual assault survivor. Raging hottie. Just like all of YOU. Right now I'm struggling to control my endometriosis through a healthy diet and exercise. So my weight loss isn't a triumph and it also isn't some sign I've finally given in to the voices of trolls. Because my body belongs to ME–at every phase, in every iteration, and whatever I'm doing with it, I'm not handing in my feminist card to anyone. So thank you to my girl @ashleygraham for writing so gorgeously about this on @lennyletter (link in bio). Thank you to @tracyandersonmethod for teaching me that exercise has the power to counteract my pain and anxiety, and to @jennikonner for being my partner in FUCK IT. I refuse to celebrate these bullshit before-and-after pictures. Don't we have infinitely more pressing news to attend to? So much love to all my web friends who demand that life be more than a daily weigh in, who know their merit has nothing to do with their size, who fight to be seen and heard and accepted. I love you- Lena
There are many reasons why one might lose weight–both voluntarily and involuntarily–but doing so isn’t always a triumph. Chronic illness can cause weight loss. Eating disorders can cause weight loss. Surgery can cause weight loss. This isn’t to say that losing weight is always bad, of course, but automatically assuming that a thin body is a healthy one is.
So, if you don’t know a person on more than a cursory level, and you notice any sort of weight change on them, it’s probably for the best not to mention it at all. This is more or less ingrained in most people when it comes to weight gain–random acquaintances probably won’t say anything to you if they think you’ve gained weight, since this is generally viewed as being a bad thing–but as you may or may not have experienced already, people will almost certainly say something if you’ve lost weight. So, check out these weird things that people say if you lose weight that, if you think about it, don’t really make any sense:
1. “You look so skinny.”
Is that…a compliment?
2. “You look sooo good!”
Obviously, telling someone they look good isn’t always a bad thing. But if it’s contingent upon losing weight, that compliment loses a lot of its sincerity.
3. “I hate you.”
4. “Look at that waist. It’s so small!”
Targeting a specific body part on someone else’s body is…not a way to make them feel good.
5. “You need to eat a cheeseburger!”
Just…don’t tell people to eat cheeseburgers, okay?
You know, for losing weight–the only goal that a person should ever have.
7. “I would kill to have your body.”
Don’t do that?
8. “You look so much better!”
As opposed to…what before, exactly?
9. “So you’re almost to your goal weight?”
LOSING WEIGHT IS NOT EVERYONE’S GOAL.
10. “I liked you better when you were, like, five pounds heavier.”
11. “What’s your secret?”
Depending on whom you ask, the “secret” could be anything from stomach ulcers to under-eating due to stress or getting their jaw wired shut for surgery and not being able to eat solid food for a month. So, uh, not really something you should try out.
12. “I’d share this with you, but I know you won’t take any of it.”
Either offer to share your food or don’t. Just don’t make it weird.
13. “Why did you want to lose weight? You looked great before!”
Aside from the fact that this person might not have even wanted to lose weight, telling them they looked better before is…not the best way to go about talking to another human person.
14. “You’re, like, anorexic now!”
Yeah, just throw around a serious eating disorder, the one that has the highest death rate for any psychiatric illness, as a compliment. That’s fine. That’s great. (Not really. Don’t do this.)
15. “Did you lose weight?”
Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you just…don’t want to talk about it?
Has anyone ever said anything like this to you? Did I miss anything? Let us know in the comments!