The Watchtower of Destruction: The Ferrett's Journal - “Ya Look Good”: A Flurry Of Reactions To A Changed Body
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“Ya Look Good”: A Flurry Of Reactions To A Changed Body|
So I’ve lost thirty pounds, and when people see me they’re kind of startled. “Whoah!” they say. “You look good!”
At which point I have several contradictory reactions going off like fireworks in my head.
First is, how feeble am I supposed to be? Because, yeah, big ol’ heart operation two months ago, I was very frail, and here I am feeling half-decent again and now someone’s reminded me that I’m convalescent. Which isn’t their fault. I’m often the first youngish person they’ve known to have a bypass surgery, and so their expectations are low, and to see me popped up and walking about again is a pleasant surprise for them. Still, I wonder what I looked like in their mind. Maybe in a wheelchair, with an oxygen mask, clutching a cane in trembling hands.
Then: I don’t want to look good. All this increased health? The result of near-terminal illness. I stand straighter, because my chest hurts when I slouch – a habit that makes me look taller, thinner, and also makes me feel stiff and Frankensteinish. My weight is because a) I’m eating much better, b) exercising more, and c) have zero appetite because when they cut your fucking chest open like a crab, it takes a few months to feel hungry again. I eat out of obligation for about four out of five meals, and will often forget if Gini doesn’t mention it.
So I’m not really looking better. It’s just that my injuries take on societally-acceptable forms.
Then: this is bullshit. Fucking weight-obsessed society revomiting. Because when people say “You look good,” nine times out of ten that means “You’ve lost weight,” as nobody ever compliments someone on gaining a few pounds in strategic locations. Maybe it’s the new hat, or the snazzy mustache, but I can’t help but think if “You look good” wasn’t such a synonym for “You looked bloated and pudgy before, but now your whale-like figure is approaching a societally-acceptable shape,” then everyone would be a lot happier. And I hate, hate, buying into that idea that “good” is “skinnier.”
Then I go, “Oh, really?” and go into the bathroom and preen, as my new mustache looks good on my slimmer face, and my clothes fit better, and with this newer, more in-shape body, aren’t I just dapper. How nice.
It’s nice looking good, it really is, once you force past the wave of revulsion.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.
This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/286514.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.
Fry: Start with a compliment. Tell her she looks thin.
Dr. Zoidberg: [calling to Edna] You seem malnourished. Are you suffering from internal parasites?
Edna: [pleased] Why, yes. Thanks for noticing.
Edited at 2013-03-06 07:13 pm (UTC)
A friend not too long ago took up running in aspiration of running the LA Marathon (which he did). I hadn't seen him for a while, and when I did, he looked AMAZING. It had nothing to do with weight. He hadn't changed his hair. Or his attire. He might have been carrying himself better/differently. He'd also recently returned from a vacation. But something about him just GLOWED. I complimented him on it, using the generic "You look fantastic!" followed by "I haven't figured out what's different exactly, but you look amazing." The workaholic had gotten himself a break and some exercise and without changing his shape noticeably, had changed entirely how he presented.
Perhaps your "upgrade", even if it still feels somewhat stiff and unnatural, has helped in a similar way. There are reasons other than weight that people give compliments.
It's true. But I think a lot of it is the weight.
And the stylin' mustache.
|Date:||March 6th, 2013 07:30 pm (UTC)|| |
It's funny how tough compliments on weight loss can be to navigate. I've lost 50 pounds over the past year and a half. I've gotten the super pc compliments where every single time someone tells you you look good they make sure to say that you looked good before too. I've gotten the complete opposite of that where someone says flat out how much better I look now than I used to. And I've gotten compliments that people mean in a nice way, but happen to hit my buttons. Telling me that I'm disappearing or I'm a stick. Or people just flat out not wanting to acknowledge that it's work that got me where I am right now and telling me that they'd like to get whatever illness I did that helped me lose all that weight.
People are beyond tactless sometimes. And I often feel lucky that I have a tough skin when it comes to all this. I didn't consider gaining weight the end of the world and I don't think losing weight is the key to happiness. I'm very much enjoying being able to do a lot more with a lot more energy, but that's much more due to my exercise than it is my eating less.
I'm glad that you're feeling better and I think you looked great in your post shave pic. But I'm also comparing that to pictures of uncombed, bruised, and very miserable you. And you look so much happier now. It makes a huge difference. :)
For the record, I think you're top-tier smoochable both before and after.
And I'm proud because I know how hard doing all that stuff is.
I lost 40 pounds without even trying on the Behcets Diet, due to the colon ulcers and the everything not-great that came with it. It's nice being a clothes hanger. It's nice looking fabulous. Sometimes it's interesting navigating the compliments and the 'you look greats' when you're not feeling so swell on the inside (understatement), but I'm still alive in 2013 and I'll take it.
And I'm a size 0 - 6, depending on clothing manufacturer, and I like that as well.
Look, you went through a thing. Take the silver lining. I do, because there's not much of a silver lining, really. So I take the ever-living hell out of looking fabulous and ride that pony for all she's worth. You do the same, yeah?
Take the silver lining. I do, because there's not much of a silver lining, really. So I take the ever-living hell out of looking fabulous and ride that pony for all she's worth. You do the same, yeah?
Probably not the worst advice, really. Though the advice I have problems with. :)
|Date:||March 6th, 2013 08:06 pm (UTC)|| |
Regarding Stiff and Frankensteinish
Maybe you're just not used to standing up straight, or maybe you're doing it wrong? Try to imagine a cord running the length of your body and coming out through the top of your head, and then someone pulling gently on the cord so that you are stretched out straight. You can still bend and move gently, but your default position will be pulled gently straight up. This imagery may help you to feel more natural about standing up straight, eventually. Or maybe not. But it's worth trying.
I took up Krav Maga, did a C25k so I could keep up in the studio's fitness classes gradually worked my way to where working out was a (small) part-time job of roughly 10ish hours a week of working out.
And yeah, a lot of people use smaller/weight, I just smile and nod, I have lost weight, just not as much as people thing I have. It is my lovers and my other close friends who notice that what's mostly happened is I've exchanged the weight from fat to muscle and I'm a condensed me. What's weird is while I'll see the changes occasionally - generally how a favorite T-shirt hangs down that I'm getting some definition in my pecs and shoulders - when I'm naked and looking down I can barely see the changes, it is slow enough my mental image as adjusted with it since my general "shape" hasn't changed, just the dimensions that my shape occupies.
It has definitely been an interesting 14 month journey since I got serious about getting healthy.
I really wanna do Krav Maga, but I'm gonna have to wait a couple of weeks on that. Or months.
|Date:||March 6th, 2013 08:24 pm (UTC)|| |
I've had people tell me that I looked good because I gained weight. Granted, I went from being 100 pounds soaking wet to the 160s...I looked pretty sickly before since I'm 5' 11".
My weight ballooned quite a bit over the past few years. No one said "wow, you've gained weight!" during that time. I have since gone on a diet and shed 20 pounds, give or take, and people are telling me I look good. Seems to be less about being overweight than falling into their perceived "normal" weight range.
While I like hearing the compliments now, you know what I liked most? Having my doctor tell me that I should stop taking my blood pressure medication. That was definitely a pleasant surprise. If I can stay off it permanently I can use the savings to offset the bill from my tailor since none of my pants fit anymore.
|Date:||March 6th, 2013 08:50 pm (UTC)|| |
Me too - I put on 2 stone (ummm .... 24 pounds / 12 kilos) and got a fair few compliments about it. I went from 55kg to about 67kg (8.5St to 10.5ish st) so I wasn't quite as thin as you, but not far off.
|Date:||March 6th, 2013 09:04 pm (UTC)|| |
Are you familiar with Tig Notaro's performance Live
? (That's "live" rhyming with "sieve", not rhyming with "hive".)
She's a standup comic who WAS known for her quirky, light, offbeat observational humor. And who was scheduled for a show at a comedy club one evening, and, a couple days before the show, found out she had cancer.
It's an amazing piece.
One thing she touches on in the piece is what you're talking about -- there's a lot more to it, and I think the piece where she's talking about the compliments is about thirty seconds, but, yeah.
Anyway, if you haven't heard it, I think you'd like it. I assume you can't laugh much these days, but, although it DOES fall under the rubric of comedy, there's not any real sidesplitting laugh lines in it... it's just somehow awesome.
I have! And feel like a beast because I thought it wasn't as good as advertised. Though I'm glad so many responded to it.
(Though I didn't know it was "Live." That's awesome.)
|Date:||March 6th, 2013 09:23 pm (UTC)|| |
I stand straighter, because my chest hurts when I slouch – a habit that makes me look taller, thinner, and also makes me feel stiff and Frankensteinish.
Yeah, similar effect having slightly burst one or two discs -- it's definitely an incentive to develop core muscles and use them. The stiffness you get used to, and if you look at it as not being dead or paralysed it's a win.
I hate, hate, buying into that idea that “good” is “skinnier.”
Well, extremes at either are generally bad, but for most people being a healthy weight equates to living longer and better. Society can fuck right off whether it's praising or condemning.
I think people automatically assume that telling someone they lost weight will make em feel better.
|Date:||March 7th, 2013 03:11 am (UTC)|| |
I have a coworker whose parents were immigrants from India. In their circles "you've lost weight" is still a very bad thing. Listening to her complain about it is hilarious.
Everything reminds me of everything.
It's good for writing, but for everything else it's a gigantic pain in the ass.
For instance, I am now recalling the Viet Nam War, in which America and Russia argued about who was going to get the heroin produced in Southeast Asia. (We only quit when cheaper heroin became available from Mexico.)
It was during this period that the Dead Junkie look first began really being rammed down our throats.
I have no idea whatsoever how much influence the Mob has on the fashion industry; but there's money in it, so it's amazing if they haven't gotten in up to their armpits.
I enjoy telling Health Nazis that I choose not to encourage drug abuse by example.
You might too.
You make me laugh, you good-looking guy, you.
It's such a nice change to be in the circus. The big t-shirt slogan these days is "Strong Is The New Skinny". It's a field that welcomes a lot of different body shapes, and people respect the ability to do things rather than the ability to be close to an "ideal" shape.
You do look better in your shaved photo than in your previous photos--it's because you're well-groomed and you don't look unhappy. You might also be more streamlined from the neck down. And hey, being overweight isn't a moral character failing, but losing some belly makes a number of sexual positions easier to achieve. So enjoy :)
Edited at 2013-03-06 10:33 pm (UTC)
Part of my dread of losing weight is that it might generate compliments. I'm not trying to lose weight but I know that people will assume that I am trying and that it's the desired outcome of any kind of dietary or exercise change. And it's hard to stifle the "My body isn't your business" sort of response when I know that someone is trying to be nice - while at the same time triggering a lot of body image issues that I've worked hard to be rid of.
I turn to Ragen Chastain and Hanne Blank in times like those.
*nods vigorously* Thank you for summing up how I feel.
then again, the slouching and pudge could have been a cumulative thing because your heart wasnt working at full capacity. now that it IS, you're moving around easier and the weight is coming off easier, too.
it's a change. looking better in your clothes, standing taller, all of that? is a side effect. and you're also looking good because dammit, you're still HERE and we're thankful for it!
Could be. But I slouched when I was a teen, so I think the slouching is just me trying not to be noticed.
But yes. I'm glad you're glad I'm here *hugs*
|Date:||March 6th, 2013 11:53 pm (UTC)|| |
Oh, man. I know EXACTLY what you mean. When I was anemic, the wolves came out of the woodwork.
Society is coming around. Hollywood is skinny and youth obsessed but real people like the old fat look better. Old and fat is becoming new young and skinny. Come on Snooki have some donuts and sausage you know we like you meatier.
One can hope. (I find Snooki terribly, terribly attractive. Like a flame to my mothy nature.)
|Date:||March 7th, 2013 12:36 am (UTC)|| |
I imagine a large part of it is that people don't expect someone to recover from open-heart surgery as well as you seem to have. When my dad had a quadruple, he looked like death warmed over for most of a year.
I've been told I'm bouncing back very quickly, even for a young patient. That's something.
(....43 is "young.")
Weight loss comments are a double-edged sword in most circumstances. Embrace it. You always look good, anyway!
Yeeeeeeah, my mother-in-law has lung cancer, and when we were at dinner with her last time, she was like "[[Litany of things that are genuinely horrifying about having cancer]] but at least I've lost 40 pounds!" And I was like:
And said nothing.
Or the time my sister was hating on herself for being fat and said "I hope I catch the stomach flu from [[nephew]]. I could lose 15 pounds of water weight that way!" And I was like:
And said nothing.
From the point of view of someone who HAD an eating disorder based on loathing myself for fatness, even when I was societally-acceptable-thinnish, it really is disturbing to hear people say that stuff, whether about themselves or to me directly.
This is why I never complement people on their weight loss. Because basically you are telling them they looked horrible before.
I've lost a bunch of weight because of my medication. I *hate* getting complimented on it. My weight loss is a source of stress. Trying to eat right is a constant background worry, because I don't always feel hungry when I need food. I think I've stabilized at this point, but I'd probably keep losing weight if I stopped paying so much attention.
|Date:||March 7th, 2013 02:59 pm (UTC)|| |
I have two friends who have trouble maintaining a healthy body weight: both of them have had times when their bodies gave up menstruation, for instance. They really, really hate it when people who KNOW about their difficulties tell them that they wish they had the same problem.
Because, no, no you don't. Now, I wouldn't mind AVERAGING my metabolism with theirs, but that's as much for their benefit as mine.
|Date:||March 7th, 2013 02:54 pm (UTC)|| |
Just so you know, in this circumstance, were I to tell you that you look good, I'd likely be meaning "not dead," rather than "thin."
|Date:||March 7th, 2013 11:13 pm (UTC)|| |
|Date:||March 7th, 2013 11:15 pm (UTC)|| |
It's really hard to compliment somebody on anything physical* without implying some criticism/insult in the shadows.
*(Though perhaps "Wow you're dick is AWESOME! YUM!" might be the exception to that?)