Recently, I have made some changes to my diet in an effort to be a little healthier. I’ve been carrying a fair bit of weight since Miss B was born and she has just turned 2, so I thought I should make an effort to shed it. I’m not one of those people who lose weight through breastfeeding. Anyway, it has been working and I’ve shed a few kilos, which made me feel pretty good about myself. I’m trying to stay focused on eating well and improving my health, with weight loss being a secondary, although welcome, benefit.
“Are you going to finish that?”
So when there was a platter of creamy cakes, brownies, cookies and savouries on offer recently, I was pretty good and ignored all the cakes! At one point, I felt I would treat myself and picked up two chips from the giant bowl on offer. So imagine how I felt when a person I’m acquainted with said “Really? Do you need those chips right now?” while looking me up and down.
You know, I don’t believe I speak for every overweight person in the world, but I do think it’s pretty safe to say that if you are overweight, you bloody well know it without having to be told.
My response was to tell this person it was none of their business. That response was not taken well; in fact, the person seemed rather affronted. After a few more choice words they tried to tell me they were simply concerned for my health.
I was so upset I walked away while they were still talking.
I think this person actually thought they were joking, to begin with. I think the concern for my health was an attempt to back-pedal in a situation that became rapidly more awkward when I refused to play along.
This person did not approach anyone else about what they were eating. There was no reason for them to single me out. Yet they felt they had the right to comment on my food choice, my health and, indirectly, on my body. They are not the first person to make remarks of this nature. They are, however, the first one that I have refused to play along with.
Changing one’s habits around food is hard. Anyone who has ever tried it can attest to that. I read recently that there is a growing body of research that shows that shaming people who are overweight does not actually motivate them to lose weight. In fact, the opposite is true. Shame is paralysing. Shame is isolating. Shame is, in short, not bloody helpful.
Being an overweight person doesn’t mean the food I choose to eat becomes open to public scrutiny. It doesn’t give anyone the right to criticise my choices- be they food, clothing or whatever. This person had no idea that those two chips were the first treat I’d given myself in weeks. They had not an inkling that I had made an effort to become more physically active. And even if they had known, it would not make what I was eating any of their business.