A year or two ago I was at the lake with some family friends and I overheard an upsetting conversation.
Is Syd coming?
No, she was going to stay and read on the boat.
Is everything okay with her? She’s really put on a lot of weight.
I was crushed. The conversation changed from there, likely because the other women heard the tone of gossip from the person who made a comment about my weight.
But I couldn’t unhear those words. I fought back tears.
It was a hellish afternoon while I waited for my husband to get back from the boat and take me home. When we got in the car, I cried for the entire drive.
I respected these people, including the woman who commented on my weight. I was hurt and embarrassed and angry. My body had changed in some ways I liked and others I wasn't happy about. I hated that people noticed. What followed was months of anxiety about my appearance and being too self conscious to do the things I wanted to do. I tried to forget those words... “she’s really put on a lot of weight.” But I couldn’t.
Then just over a year ago I joined a morning interval training class through my work. The first week was so hard I almost didn’t go back. But I did, and now I go 2-3 times a week and love it. I also got back into running and have started to be one of those people who actually likes yoga.
I don’t weigh myself so I could never say for sure if that woman was right, but I feel stronger than I did last summer when she said what she said. Several mornings a week I accomplish physical activity that I think should just knock me out. But it doesn’t.
I feel great, and I’m happier with how I look. But mostly I feel great. That should be the important part. I hope that if I overhear any snide comments from this family friend this summer, it won’t affect me so deeply.
This experience taught me an important lesson about the words I use. I decided to be better about bodies. I now make a pointed effort to not comment on bodies, and I ignore or change the subject if someone else does so. No “have you lost weight”, no “oh you look so thin”. There’s so many more interesting things to notice and discuss.
I’m not perfect. I’m sure I still make these annoying comments sometimes. But I am trying to be better. How a person looks is none of my business. Their body is not there for my commentary, just as mine shouldn’t have been for this friend. Let’s find better conversation topics. It should be easy when we’re out in the world with the people we love.