Lookin’ great! Did you lose weight?

“Wow, you look amazing! Have you lost weight?”

I’m sure it’s a phrase that everyone has heard or used at some stage in their lives. It’s actually something that gets said to me a fair bit these days (coming from those few who don’t know i’m involved in the Size Acceptance movement, mainly) and it really irks me. The main reason is annoys me as much as it does is that I’m fatter now than I ever have been. For the record, it’s not my lack of fat that’s making me look awesome; it’s the fact that i am confident and in love with the person I am. I’m sexy and attractive and cute and funny and beautiful and smart and happy. And whether they realise it or not, that’s the change that people are seeing in me. I look great because I love me. I’m happy with who I am.



One of my close friends has recently shed a buttload of weight, and i hadn’t seen them in a while. When i saw them I was a little shocked – I said “Wow, you’ve lost a lot of weight!” and I didn’t mean as a compliment at all. I honestly thought they might’ve been sick – dramatic weight losses/gains are signs of illness in my world, and I was instantly worried. But when I commented, there was a look of triumph in their face as though they had finally beaten a huge demon – the weight’s off, finally i can love myself!

I love that my friend now thinks they’re worthy of love, but the reality is that they always have been. I don’t want to take away their happy feelings in the slightest, and believe me, I love compliments as much as the next person. And I love giving people compliments too, my mum brought me up to be this way! Whenever I see someone whose outfit I particularly like, or if they have great makeup/skin/whatever I usually tell them – even if they’re a complete stranger.

But the thing of it is…. the measure of a person’s worth does not lie in their looks. I’m sure we all know people who are really physically attractive (whatever that means to you) that are total douchenuggets. I know I do. And it’s good to remember that what society deems attractive this month has nothing to do with your worth as a living creature. As part of the size acceptance community, it’s important to discuss when someone talks in generalisations about weight. Or appearance in general, actually. Nobody has a right to speak to you about how good (or conversely how bad) being a certain size is. We are a diverse society in which there is no “right” way to be. You are who you are, and that is perfect.

How do you deal with these sorts of “compliments”, both to yourself and others? Am I over-analyzing again? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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  • Sonya

    One of my very good friends made the same comment when I visited her (With Zoe. Hi Zoe!) in December. I arced up. Inside. I mean, I heard it was kind of obvious that I was not comfortable with the comment, but I never said anything at the time. I think I mumbled something like, “Uh, I'm not trying to…”

    At the same time, I know she didn't mean to make me feel uncomfortable and didn't get that the “compliment” made me feel that way. I had a discussion with her, via email about my stance and my viewpoint and now we're all good — she sees where I'm coming from and now knows not to make weight comments, “good” or “bad”, about myself or herself (not that she ever made “bad” comments about me).

  • nitrojane

    Good for you being positive in educating someone regarding your stance. It's so easy to just dismiss things, but until we change the world it'll just stay weight-centric!

  • http://twitter.com/Ilaeria Jennifer Doherty

    I have fairly recently come to the whole concept of Fat/Size Acceptance, and to celebrate my newfound love of myself, I've bought quite a lot of new clothes. I've gone from men's jeans and t-shirts ALL THE TIME to loving fashion again and enjoying wearing cute clothes and decent jeans. So of course I'm getting these kinds of comments. I usually just say “nope!” with a smile, but I have talked to a couple of people that I felt would “get it” about what has really happened. I don't want to go all Size Acceptance on their asses, but I don't want to hide it either. It's a toughie to deal with!

  • sykobabble

    These kind of “compliments” are very problematic for me.

    I work in a clothing store, with mostly women. I am by FAR the biggest girl there (actually the only one who can't fit into the standard sizes offered by our brand). A few months ago I was walking into work and my boss, who I really, really like, said “You lost a ton of weight didn't you?”. This was said in such a way that implied I looked really good (read: thinner).

    First of all, no, I hadn't lost a ton of weight. I hadn't lost ANY weight. My fat self is fatter now than I ever have been. What I HAD done was buy some awesome pants that make my ass look sweet sweet nice and made me feel really confident.

    Secondly, why is this a compliment? I really don't understand why someone can't just say to me “You look really good today!”. Why does it have to be “You look really good because you look thinner!”.

    Whenever I hear this kind of compliment I have a knee-jerk reaction to just say thanks, but in the future I want to say something more like “Actually no, I haven't lost any weight, nor am I trying to. I just look good.”

  • http://northerngrin.blogspot.com ClumsyKisses

    I've got it so much recently because a) I have lost a little weight and b) I got a better bra. I nod and sort of look vacant. One of my grandma's friends told me it and my grandma told me to 'say thankyou!' I didn't.

  • Amanda

    I've been struggling with this a lot lately. Two of my friends have lot substantial amounts of weight over the last few months (one due to gastric bypass, don't even get me started), and they talk about it A LOT. And about how they have to really get serious about losing more. I can't bring myself to participate in these conversations, but it's so expected that these things will be met with positive comments that I'm pretty sure the fact that I don't ooh and aah over “how awesome they look now” makes me come off like an asshole. Not one, not two, not three, but FOUR different people mentioned their diets to me yesterday and I couldn't do anything but nod and feel awkward. It's incredibly frustrating.

  • http://lifewithcurves.blogspot.com Cat

    Not over analyzing at all, this is a very important conversation to have. I think it's crucial to spread the message that our worth is not tied up in weight or our external appearance in general. The myth that is somehow is seems to surprisingly permeate so many levels of society. One one hand it seems everyone can intellectually say “beauty comes from within”, yet hypocritically these same people intensely praise others based on the external and on the other hand also judge based on the external. Across the board people apply value judgements about how they or others look and it's gross. It's a super oppressive practice to explicitly or implicitly move throughout the world acting as though thinner is better, or that being closer to some ridiculous cultural ideal (young, “attractive”, etc) is somehow better.

    What counts is how we treat ourselves and others. I'm not fat, but I practice fat/size acceptance as part of my recovery from an eating disorder. I'm currently healthy and at a “normal” weight. When people comment on my being slim I shrug and chose to ignore their comment and change the direction of the conversation. The reason I do this is because I REFUSE to have a conversation that in any way plays into the idea that being normative body wise is somehow better or that it is tied up with my worth. REFUSE.

    On the other hand when someone compliments me on something else about me, like makeup or clothing or whatever I smile and accept the compliment but take it with a grain of salt. Generally in these instances I choose to take the compliment as about how I express myself and see the compliment as an inadvertent compliment about my personality. How I dress or present is very much impacted by my mood and I consider it to be art at times. Ah fashion.

    When compliments are about my eyes or butt or a body part that is something I was born with I smile and accept the compliment but don't take it too seriously. Really who cares if I have attractive this or pretty that? It's just the way I am, it's just a body part, it's just like any body else's body part- what we were born like and to be accepted equally regardless of looks.

    When my friends get that weight loss compliment look of satisfaction on their faces you were describing I am always disturbed. So disturbed. I don't know how to deal with it. Generally people tend to think their satisfaction about weight loss is benign and I find it difficult to begin the discussion of body acceptance or body politics outside of the ed community or FA community. I'd love ideas around this.

    So, my reply was long. I appreciated your post. Thanks.

  • http://randomette.blogspot.com ErinAree

    A couple months back I had a reversal of this experience. I noticed a slender friend of mine, who has been trying to put on weight for years, filling out a little. I asked her if she had put on weight, and she said that yes, she had, and she was feeling really good about it.

    About an hour later, she commented how weird it was that we could have that reversal conversation in such a positive way – talking about her putting on weight as a good thing. Even she, a woman who frequently gets asked whether she has an eating disorder – understands that putting on weight is viewed as a bad thing in society.

    I lived in Kenya for three months last year and came back about 20kg lighter. It was noticeable. The first thing one of my friends said to me when she saw me was 'where's the rest of you?' I've probably put on about half of that since being back, but people are still asking me if I've lost more weight and saying how good I look. I often don't know how to respond. I'm happy. I love my life and myself (most of the time). That's what makes me look good, not how many fat deposits I have on my body and where they are.

    And why is it always such a big deal when a fatty looks good anyway?

    P.S. Douchenuggets. Love it.

  • http://www.thestylishdieter.blogspot.com/ kate

    Your awesomeness makes me happy:)

    My Dad always taught me the importance of a compliment and to be humble when recieving one. My mother always taught me to bitch about someones weight and to never be happy :P

    I prefer my fathers method

    I am on a weight loss journey atm but you are so right, this shell fat or thin is not what defines me, it is the fantabulous person inside that had the mojo!

    Loving this blog!

  • Notblueatall

    Yes! I get the “you look great, have you lost weight?” often. It irks me and I'm working on my own responses of varying degrees since some are close friends and others are mere acquaintances…So far this has made me at least laugh about it, “Oh no! Have I? Well, if you see any of it around, please let me know. I do miss it.” Or, “No, I'm just fat & happy!”

  • Len

    Great image, your awesomness is completely awesome. It makes me smile!

    This post is excellent, and highly relevant. I have witnessed the 'looking great, lost weight' comment backfire nastily when the person being 'complimented' pointed out that chemotherapy was the weight-loss culprit. Ouch-awkward-social-moment!

    I don't want to go about offending people, but I don't accept weight-based judgement any more. So nowadays if somebody dishes out the old 'look great, lost weight' comment (inevitably just because I've worn different clothes or hairstyle) I tend to point out gently that my weight isn't linked to my self-esteem, I don't tend to weigh myself, so I really can't comment.

    On the other hand if somebody compliments me without mentioning weight I glow and accept the compliment. I LOVE compliments!

  • Rose

    I get this “compliment” on occasion. I always answer, “No, I don't diet.” Without fail, people always look really confused, and never know what to say next; then they change the subject.

  • http://twitter.com/Heather_Jacket Heather_Jacket

    When I was moved in with my father at the age of 15, he had no idea what to do with me. So, he cracked down pretty hard, and had me on a strict eating schedule. Everything was diet, nothing had flavor, and I was constantly criticized on my weight by both him and my vastly overweight stepmother. Every time I lost weight I was made to feel on top of the world, and every time I gained it I was made to feel like I had failed him. This problem built up, among others. Towards the end of my time living with him, however, I got pretty fed up about it. He went as far as to make a comment while we were out shopping that he'd buy me a pair of those “slimming jeans” to hide my fat. I told him off about it when we got home, but for the rest of the time I lived with him he still made comments. It took me a long time to get over that, and now when someone compliments me by saying, “You look awesome, you must have lost weight,” I just say, “No, I've gained a few. But thanks.” I'm happy with my body now, even though I'm fatter than I've ever been. I'm just more confident now.

  • Tracey

    “My Dad always taught me the importance of a compliment and to be humble when recieving one.”

    I try this route. I smile and say, “No, but thanks for saying I look nice (or cute or whatever word they used)” and then I keep it moving.

    A friend of mine mentioned that his ex was losing weight. My first reaction was, “Is she ok or is it healthy weight loss?” I guess that means I've gained a little ground on the quest to view thinner as another description of a body in transition not a synonym for beautiful.

  • sassaphrazz

    i getthis a lot. I work at a university with international students who culturally seem more OK with telling me if I have gotten fatter or thinner per semester. Its something that I struggle with. When they tell me Ive gotten thinner I just shrug ( dont weigh myself so I dont know) usually I just say no and maybe its the outfit? I try to not accept a “compliment” which is sized based. I find it particularly irksome when a genetically-thin friend/family member or some other person who feels more entitlement to say stuff like that makes remakrs like “J you look good.” Look good… is always euphamism for “lose weight”. Again IU am uncomfortable because even if I did I know that at some point I will just let them down cause a genetically predisposed Peasant such as myself who happens to be thin is like a cancer patient in remission… its only a matter of time before I wont be thin again… so…really dont waste your breath. and dont remind me about the time when i wont be like this and to you… i wont be as beautiful :(

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