You know what’s hard about being a woman who’s 100 pounds overweight or more? Is that very few people actually “see” you. I mean really “see” you. Sure they may politely talk to you if you’re a stranger. But for the most part, when you’re the big girl in the room, you’re often ignored by men and some women too.
Men don’t make eye contact with you, or if they do most look right past you, and over time the fat becomes this protective bubble.
It protects you from stares, from men looking at you like you’re a hot-out-of-the-oven fresh biscuit sitting next to a plate of gravy-smothered meatloaf. You simply don’t get noticed. Or if you do it’s the, “You have such a pretty face, ” comment. Why thank you I’ve always wanted to be a disembodied head.
When you’re heavier you often feel weak, depressed, and vulnerable. Sure, you put on a brave face. But you know the emotions swirling around inside you often make you feel less than.
The judgment you feel from strangers or acquaintances isn’t in your head. It’s real and hard to deal with. It’s part of our social experience and affects you feel and perceive yourself.
You are so much more than your physical body and separating the two thoughts are difficult to nearly impossible. It will take time for you to feel differently because you’re so used to feeling a certain way. You are not prepared for the emotional upheaval that comes along with it.
And suddenly when you’ve released a large amount of weight your face may appear dramatically different. Your body changes and you often don’t recognize the person staring back at you in the mirror.
It’s shocking, even frightening. I remember looking way older at 28 then I do now at 43. It’s fascinating when someone says to me you look like you’re in your 30s. Why thank you, kind person, I really appreciate that.
But at first you’ll get pissed off, you’ll feel naked and exposed. It’s actually pretty awful before you come to peace with the fact that people are just drawn to what they find attractive. It doesn’t make it good or bad. It just is. Don’t get mad, that’s the way we’re wired on a primal level. This is thousands of years of biology, you’re not going to fight it by raging out.
The first time I noticed this phenomenon was when I was taking my car in for its regular service visit. I’d been going to the same dealership for three years and had the same service advisor. He was always pleasant to me but disinterested. I could feel the boredom vibrating off him when he spoke to me.
“Hello Ms. K, blah blah blah your car needs yadda, yadda, yadda and that will be $500 dollars please and thank you.”
Just vary the dollar amount, the mechanical explanation, and our interactions were always the same.
But this day was different. I guess I didn’t look the way he remembered me over time. Suddenly when I walked in the door, I was greeted by a huge smile with extended eye contact.
“Hello, Ms. K,” I felt like he was happily shouting at me. I knew he wasn’t but that’s how it felt.
Suddenly I was off balance, I expected uninterested Carl and now, he was rushing to hold the door open for me. He asked me how my morning was going, Did I want some coffee? How about a bottle of water?
Come again, Carl? What.Is.Happening? Seriously. I thought I bored you to tears.
He started to explain in precise detail what my car needed how long it would take. He touched my arm softly when he spoke to me. Not in a creepy way, but a reassuring kind way. I had to stop my eyebrows from going up. Did I want the option of a rental? Would I like a freshly baked cookie?
Say what now Carl? Are you offering me cookies? I need to sit down for this. Yes, I will take that water and the coffee too.
When you are working on releasing weight you need all the small wins you can get so if someone says, “Hey you look different.” Don’t apologize, get upset, or dismiss the comment – take it at face value and accept it graciously.
You can’t fault people for being human or suddenly noticing you. Be open to it. Receive the compliment in the spirit that it was meant. Say thank you with a big grin on your face. Don’t wonder if they’re being secretly sarcastic.
Life’s too short and you deserve to feel as good as possible all the time.