Sunday, September 19, 2010

Something That's Been Weighing On My Mind

I've read a few blog posts recently about fat acceptance/healthy at every size (HAES) and I'd like to blog about it from the other side. Most of those bloggers write about being criticised for not being thin. I've lost a lot of weight since my second daughter was born. I now weigh less than I did when I was 15 and I have lost count of the amount of comments I've received about how "fantastic" I look and how "awesome" it is that I've lost so much weight. It's not fantastic, this wasn't' deliberate weight loss and it is definitely not a sign that I'm healthy. The last time I weighed this much I had not finished growing!

When I tell people how I lost the weight: stress, single parenting, breastfeeding, they gloss over it and return to how "fantastic" it is, despite me trying to tell them that it's not a healthy weight loss and that I'm tired.

I've had the hardest nine months of my life. My marriage has broken up. I've been solo parenting two young children who don't sleep. I don't always get a chance to eat properly because I'm focused on taking care of them. I've been breastfeeding and or pregnant continuously for almost four years now. My weight loss is a sign that my body is under a lot of pressure.

I am wasting away from stress. That is not a good thing!

When someone commented on my weight loss and I told them that it wasn't a good thing and I hoped I wouldn't be this weight this time next year and that I was so exhausted that I could barely get out of bed, they said "oh no you don't want to put that weight back on, don't say that!"

The comments also make me feel bad about how I looked before. I never used to feel bad about myself or my body before all this loss, but these comments make me question how I used to look and what people thought of me then?

Instead of trying to convince me how great it is to be a size ten when I have massive dark rings under my eyes and I'm stressed out of my mind, how about offering to help me out at dinner/bed time so I have a chance to eat when my children are going to bed? Or cooking me a healthy meal? Or just responding to me with "I'm sorry you're feeling crap" instead of "it's fantastic (that you feel like crap coz at least you're skinny)."

Whether you're a size 10 or a size 18 it doesn't necessarily mean you're healthy or unhealthy. If someone tries to tell you that they're exhausted and that they don't get to eat properly, it's probably an indicator that they're not healthy. Why do we have to comment on people's weight at all? Why can't we ask each other how we feel and focus on that.

HAES blog posts

Talking about diet talk - Spilt Milk

An anthropologist on Mars - The Shapely Prose

Imperfection - The Shapely Prose

Don't You Realize Fat Is Unhealthy? - The Shapely Prose

35 simple ways to be beautiful - Adios Barbie


  1. Thanks so much for posting this Sarah. While I certainly haven't been under as many of the stresses you have, I completely understand about the weight thing. I can't seem to keep weight on while breastfeeding (which I've been doing for 4 years too!) and weigh the same as my teens too. I feel unhealthy. I feel tired all the time. I feel lightheaded and dizzy lots of the time. And I tend to get sick really easily. When I say anything about it to others about how I wish I could put more weight on they look at me like I'm crazy and usually make some sort of joke about how they wish they could be in my situation. People need to know that being underweight is a serious problem too!!

  2. well said Sarah, (you know that I have voiced concerns on how rapidly the weight has fallen off you because I know how much stress your constantly under)... I recently heard a friend of mine who is very thin .. not by dieting, she is incredibly healthy, she is just very thin tell someone off after a person had told her how skinny she was... my friend said "how rude you would not go up to a fat person and say wow your sooo fat it's just rude don't comment on my weight" and I agree no-one has the right to be passing judgement on how much a person weighs. I know how hard things are for you and I am constantly amazed at how you parent with such grace and patience when you are so tired and anxious and probably a tad malnurished from lack of getting any actual time to sit and eat a proper meal inbetween juggling a baby and a toddle ron your own. I love this post and think that if people offered you a nice home cooked meal and not there unwanted advice on weight loss or gain your stress would be lessened. Your a beautiful child of God no matter what your size. Love you!

  3. I really loved your last two lines "Why do we have to comment on people's weight at all? Why can't we ask each other how we feel and focus on that." I've wondered the same, myself.

    There have been times in my life when I've weighed less and times when I've weighed more, I rarely notice the changes at the time. But sometimes someone else will mention it with a comment like those you're recieving, and whenever I received it I felt really creeped out. It felt like an invasion of my privacy or something, the way they were obviously monitoring and scrutinising my shape. How dare so-called friends pass judgement like that on the natral ebb and flow that it is living in a woman's body?!

    Leesa - she mentioned to me that you were one of the only people who had expressed concern about her weight loss and she appreciated that expression of love for her. I, on the otherhand told her I'd be delighted to hold her down and force feed her lard to help ;) she requested butter. Still not quite the "healthy" approach to gaining the weight though LOL

  4. Ack! You live in Australia! I was going to make you some beet cheddar risotto, or a pizza and bring it over. I know all about skinny exhaustion.

  5. Thanks for writing this, Sarah. Such an important message -- I wish the world would take note! Once I get back from my trip I'll bring you round a nice home-cooked healthy meal. Hopefully one that's fattening. ;) xxo

  6. This is so true Sarah! You can be unhealthy overweight or underweight and i know you haven't tried to lose weight, why would you, you were always oerfectly fine!!! I remember my MIL telling me at one stage, when i lost a lot of weight in a very unhealthy obsessive way that she would rub the food through my skin if i didn't bloody eat something! LOL. I can do that for you if you want?! Look after yourself, you are so precious to so many people!LOL at Sazz force feeding you lard!

  7. Oh my god I so get this! I HATE it when people comment on my weight - I get it all the time, "how did you do that after 3 children!" Gah shits me to tears.

    I also have to be really careful that I don't drop weight, cause I do really quickly and then feel like you are. I had a major freak out moment a little while ago when I went to buy clothes and realised that I am now a size 8 (after being a 10 for a very long time). I have since been told that Australian sizes have now changed (so a 10 is really an 8 etc) to make women "feel better about themselves" WHAT???

    Being skinny is so NOT synonymous with being happy, I hear ya sister. Huge hugs to you precious woman. xxoo

  8. I have a friend who has similar experiences to you with weight loss (hers is pretty inexplicable and very worrying!) Women's bodies are observed and policed so closely, every size :(

  9. Hello, I hope you don't mind me commenting on your blog. I found my way here from your friend Sazz'z blog, which I found from a link on Offbeat Mama. (Whew!) Anyways, I just wanted to thank you for writing this. I've always thought commenting on weight for any reason was the height of bad manners because no matter how you slice it, it never does any good. Hope you don't Mind an audience from Kansas, USA.

  10. This happened to me! And then I started getting the " know, you can stop losing weight now. You look fine." No, I CAN'T stop! That's the problem!

    Oh, and if I tell anyone now about what happened to my body in the months following my marriage breakup, the birth, the breastfeeding, the stress... "oh, shut up. Not all of us are that lucky!!" Yeah, cheers for that.

    I wish you all the best, and I hope you get the nurturing you need.

  11. I'm sorry that you're being policed by the people around you with regards to your body. Body policing sucks no matter where you sit on the size spectrum.

    I hope you can cut a break soon and start to feel more relaxed, healthier and heartier.

  12. I've been stewing on this since you posted it, unable to get my uncomfortable feelings into words until now.

    I know that I am probably being picky, but to be perfectly honest, the first time I read it I didn't retain anything other than the title, I'm not sure how making a pun about something being weighty and having a heavy weight on your mind being a bad thing, is really the best way to start a post when you're trying to tell fatties that it doesn't matter what size you've already implied to me that being heavy is bad!

    “The comments also make me feel bad about how I looked before. I never used to feel bad about myself or my body before all this loss, but these comments make me question how I used to look and what people thought of me then?”

    It's admittedly already a hard pill to swallow being told by a skinny person that it doesn't matter that I'm fat (so long as I'm healthy!), but when they then admit that they worry that even now as an unhealthy skinny person that they may have been fat before, I find it hard to believe that they really do think it doesn't matter that I'm fat.

    I *do* think its appalling and disgusting that people invalidate your feelings and silence you by ignoring how you feel about your body, and you know what, that's how I feel, as a fattie, about fat acceptance and HAES (to a degree).
    If you are indeed one side of the scale, an unhealthy skinny person, then the other end would be an unhealthy fat person. This unhealthy fat person may not like their body either, may see that they unhealthy, but to be a 'good fattie' and toe the fat acceptance line they have to suck it up and pretend that its a non-issue, cos god forbid you actually admit you don't really like being fat.
    Fat and don't like it? Gotta shut up. Skinny and don't like it? Gotta shut up.

    We've really covered ourselves well both ways in finding ways to silence women, haven't we?

    And my biggest pet peeve, people calling fat acceptance and HAES the same thing. I don't believe they are.
    Because fat acceptance means fat, it doesn't put a requirement on healthy, does it?

    I am glad you edited the last paragraph btw, cos it really shat me ;)

  13. Being someone who has spent their entire adult life either underweight or bordering on it I've faced the same comments all the time. It is so fustrating when people tell me how lucky I am, when I point out to them that being underweight posses health risks, that if I happen to get sick just for one day my body has no reserves etc they don't hear a word that I say and just focus on the fact that I look the way that all the trashy womens magazines tell us is attractive.

    I find women of many shapes attractive, although it has actually taken me a long time to realise that my body shape is the way it is and not likely to change in any hurry and although skinny I can still be attractive.

  14. Hey Sarah I know this is old but I hope you are feeling healthier these days!
    Apwool, I think you misinterpreted her concern about people commenting. When a woman (and it's always a woman for me *sigh*) comments that I've lost weight I do start to wonder if she was judging me beforehand. I don't wonder if I was fat - I don't freaking care, I wonder if she judged me as "wrong" somehow because apparently I look "better" to her now.


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