I have recently put on weight. I know this because I was there when the angry purple stretchmarks crept up on my waist. But for some reason everyone feels the need to tell me about my weight gain in greatly concerned tones.
People see bodies like mine and make their assumptions. They think they know the why of my body. They do not.Roxane Gay
There are a lot of reasons why people put on weight – all of which are no one’s business but their own. But I have been made to feel as though I owe people an explanation as to why “I let myself go”.
So I will say it, I am battling chronic illness and I am constantly on a cocktail of experimental medication. That is why I put on weight. The people who know and have been there through it all just want me to be healthy and happy.
I am also battling with my existence. People’s discomfort with my appearance has taken a toll on my mental health. I am deathly afraid of running into people I haven’t seen in a while because I know what they will say, and how deep it will cut.
I suppose people mean no harm when they tell me to lose weight. But I already have body dysmorphia and an unhealthy preoccupation with diets and thinness. So my take away from these comments is that my value as a human being has been tied to my appearance. And I don’t know how to exist in a world where people are dismayed over how I look.
I may lose the weight, I may not. When I am alone, I am not that bothered by it. I have fought and lost many battles with eating disorders since I was 14 and I am exhausted. I am now 26 and I am livid that conversations with other women still center thinness (desirability). That I still have to eat in secret or not at all for fear of reprisal.
There is no happy or profound conclusion to this. My only hope is that you think twice before you comment on other person’s appearance (weight gain, weight loss, tattoos, “disheveled appearance” etc) because you will never know the whys of somebody’s appearance .
But most importantly, I would like to ask that when it comes to me – please keep your comments to yourself or simply look way.
further reading - This essay by Warsan Shire on body dysmorphia and eating disorders has always been a favorite of mine.