One of my friends was in the hospital two nights ago having an emergency appendectomy. She’s okay now, but on Monday night I ended up staying up all night at the hospital, waiting for the surgery to finish so me and my friends could be there when she came out. We sat with her mother and father, awkwardly making conversation. Her mother, who hasn’t seen me since I got back from Ecuador (where I lost maybe 20 pounds by sheer accident), turned to me halfway through the conversation and said. “Chrissy, you look like you’ve lost a ton of weight. You just look fantastic.”
Now, I knew this was meant as a compliment, so I accepted it as such, “Well thank you,” I said. At that moment I realized it was the first time since I fully came to accept myself that I had been told that I looked fantastic because I’d lost a ton of weight. And it made me realized that the compliment didn’t feel satisfying. It was empty, felt superficial, and didn’t flatter me at all. In that moment all I could think about was how little this woman knew of me, and how I didn’t know what to say to her.
In comparison, I’ve received a number of compliments in the past few days that have reaped some satisfaction. Yesterday, for instance, I was trying something new with my hair and five (!!) of my friends commented that my hair looked great. Then today I got a comment on my Fat Documentary from Joy Nash herself, which made me squeee with happiness. Almost immediately after getting that, a girl I only sort of know from one of my classes came up to me in the cafeteria and asked if she could watch my Fat Documentary because she had heard it was really well done. I sent her to my YouTube page and jumped up and down in my head with glee.
Overall, what I’ve realized is that I feel satisfaction in compliments when people are acknowledging my successes. Getting my hair to look good was, for me, a triumph. My documentary is definitely an accomplishment. And people rewarding me for my hard work makes me feel good because they’re reinforcing my feelings of success. I think this shows a step forward for me because I’ve begun to disassociate my fat from failure.
All my life, I’ve overcompensated for what I saw as my biggest failure, my fat. I’ve gotten good grades. I’ve been nice to people, been a good support for everyone (except myself). I’ve worked hard to achieve everything in my life, hoping that my good intentions would cover for my fat. Hoping that no one would care about my fat if I were successful, and seemingly happy. Little did I know that I only ever failed when I criticized myself. My weight is not a failure, it’s a part of me. It is not a failure, nor is the loosing of weight a success. It all just is.
My friend’s mom considered my weight loss to be a success. And considering how little she knows of me, I’ll take it for what it was–an allusion that I am a successful individual. It was superficial because she knows me only superficially. But I hope that when people see who I really am, they’ll see a confident, happy person whose accomplishments are many and whose body shape or size doesn’t matter. For the first time in my life, I’m happy. And that’s what really matters.