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Please, Stop Asking About My Weight

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“Did you lose/gain weight?”

This is perhaps one of the most common questions I get from aunties and uncles, and it is definitely one of the first I get when I see them, regardless of the time of year.

In the winter, it’s, “Are you dieting to get ready for summer?”

In the summer, it’s, “Are you really going to eat that if you’re going to the beach later?”

Maybe they feel entitled to ask whatever they want. Regardless, there isn’t much you can do about what other people say, even if it does hurt your feelings or if it triggers thoughts of anxiety and stress.

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t hyper self-aware of my weight. When will my boobs come in? When will I lose my baby fat? How come my thighs touch when I stand with my feet closed? Are my arms too jiggly? How do I get rid of the rolls on my stomach?

I started dieting when I was just 12 years old. Looking back, that was foolish. I was a child. I should’ve been worried about what to get my friends for their birthday or if I would make the basketball team. I shouldn’t have been counting calories or starving myself because I thought I was too fat.

These thoughts stayed with me throughout middle school, high school and university. They still stay with me and the little voice criticizes me every day. I know that voice isn’t me, not really, but that doesn’t make their words any less toxic.

As life got more complicated and school got harder, I found myself yo-yoing between extreme diets and binge-eating when I wasn’t seeing results fast enough. I had developed an eating disorder without even realizing it. Coupled with anxiety and depression, every meal was viewed as a punishment or as a tactic to get that elusive “dream body.” Who doesn’t want to have Barbie’s extreme proportions?

So when I get asked if I’d gained or lost any weight, I don’t ever hear the part about “gaining or losing” weight. All I hear is a comment about the weight. The crashing feelings come back. The feeling of inadequacies and insecurities and the need to restrict, count and track.

In actuality, I am a healthy weight. I fall within a “normal” weight for my height, and I have an average amount of fat on my body. Yet, every day, it’s a struggle to remind myself that I have fat, but I am not fat. I have elbows, but I am not an elbow. The same logic my rational mind understands only makes it more difficult to accept myself. Even if I were, so what? How can I, a self-proclaimed feminist, allow society’s outdated, patriarchal ideals of sex diminish my own self-worth?

So please, do not comment on my weight, even if you have good intentions. Even if you think that saying, “Oh, you’ve lost weight,” is a compliment, my mind will only tell me it’s because you thought that I was fat before I’d lost weight. The tormenting internal dialogue, the self-imposed restrictions, the never-ending criticisms whenever I see my own reflection, my anxieties and insecurities only grow worse as I become more self-aware.

I say these words knowing that your words do not come from a place of concern for me. You are not commenting because you fear for my health or wellness. You say it as a point of discussion and a topic of gossip. I am not your source of entertainment, and my weight is none of your business. Please, stop commenting on my weight. Whether I gain or lose weight, I am more than the number on the scale.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: January 12, 2017
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