What We Forget When We Comment on People's Weight

“You’re so skinny!”

“¡Que flaca eres!”

“Wow, you’ve gained weight!”

“¡Nena, te estás poniendo gordita!”

In any language you speak, you’re bound to encounter someone who’s more than willing to comment on your weight. Whether it’s a well-meaning relative, a nosy stranger, or rude person on the internet, the message is the same – your appearance, in their eyes, is something that is open to critique. The problem is, it shouldn’t be. Your appearance, weight especially, is a delicate subject and a very personal one. There is a variety of factors that contribute to a person’s weight; it’s not black and white.

At the end of May, I started a new medication for my migraines. It’s actually been working, which is a pleasant change from other medications. The problem? Like other meds, it doesn’t come without a cost. In this case, the price I have to pay for relief is dealing with one of the unwelcome side effects: weight gain. I gained 10 pounds immediately after starting it. Ten pounds may seem insignificant, and it’s not much compared to what others go through. However, I’ve had a hard time adjusting to this change, as someone whose weight stayed constant for months. I also went through surgery to remove my gallbladder in March, and was finally becoming comfortable with my scars and how my body looked after that – adding weight gain to the mix now is a bit overwhelming.

If you can take one lesson from my experience, let it be this – gaining weight might not be inherently bad, and losing it may not necessarily be something to celebrate. Gaining weight may be associated with positive changes, such as reduced migraines, in my case. On the other hand, losing weight might be a result of someone needing to stop a medication that was helping them. Chronic illness comes with a variety of challenges, and criticizing someone’s weight gain or complimenting their weight loss may aggravate an already sore subject. Please, think twice about what you say and don’t comment on my weight, even if it’s a compliment.

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