I’ve recently had the good fortune to have lost a considerable amount of weight. That’s good news for my joints and blood pressure and my doctor is quite pleased with the results. What’s more interesting than losing sizes, however, is the variety of responses that I get from those around me. If you’ve ever redesigned or reworked yourself, you’ll understand what I mean. The type of response, of course, is determined by the person involved and their particular personality traits. But I have seen a number of patterns that I find amusing.
Family members are consistently positive. My son will joyously call me “Skinny,” asking if he can provide a rope to keep my pants from scraping the ground. My daughter, because of her status as fashion diva, will say, “Mother, we need to get some clothes that look as if they belong to you.” Brother will suggest that I look great, in-laws will freely admire my self-discipline and my husband says, “I can tell that your clothes are looking baggy.” Much as I might prefer to hear, “Wow, you are starting to look terrific!” I am wise enough not to expect to hear my type of language coming from someone else.
The rest of my observations concern the rest of the people around us. You’re probably aware of people in your circle of friends who have lost much weight, typically because of some commitment to a weight-loss regime. A little research will likely disclose that many of these weight losers rarely get input other than from their immediate circle of friends and family. Some of it is what I attribute to the “Are you pregnant” fear suffered by many. We all know the cliche – fear of asking if a woman is pregnant in case she is not. Perhaps the same fear is associated with “have you been losing weight,” as if to avoid the response of “no, I haven’t” or “yes, I have an awful disease causing me to drop pounds daily.”
It occurs to me that women who are not close friends are reluctant to acknowledge that your appearance has improved considerably, either for fear of delivering a compliment that is not elicited or by virtue of denial. True friends will never hesitate. But casual acquaintances just may not want to deliver that much personal information on an impersonal level. And for men, there is always the possibility of a woman misconstruing the information, “You look great – what have you done to yourself?” Don’t tell me that you’ve finally noticed how I look. Does that mean that I didn’t even have the traditional nice personality?
Those who are familiar with the weight-loss regime are well aware that losing weight and inches usually requires the investment of considerable time and dedication to this weight loss. I arise an hour early to exercise and do whatever is available to participate in anything that will accelerate my heart rate, especially if it has irons, woods and dimpled little balls associated with it. The moral is – don’t hesitate to congratulate someone who has worked hard to achieve weight loss. No amount of intellectualizing modifies the fact that losses are personal achievements, after which many kudos are almost superfluous.
But the vanity factor is real. Most of us like to look better as well as feeling better and it’s always a kind event to congratulate a friend, relative or colleague on a task well done.