by Sandra Meunier, Fattitude Guest Blogger
I had some serious issues at work and it all got a bit too much – so I ended up taking 2 months off. It just so happens that, as I was away, self-pitying, I also got a stomach bug. *Regardless* I lost some weight throughout those weeks.
I was really worried about going back to work. I was worried about what type of gossips had gone around, about looking drawn and tired, about being asked questions I didn’t want to answer, about not having the energy to work, about not wanting to work … I didn’t want to have to justify my hollow cheeks and why my hair looked so sh*tty. In short, I was worried about being worried.
But I was also relieved that I had a reason to get dressed and get out of bed; that I could eventually go back to the outside world and see real people in the flesh (I ended up thinking they were only on TV or Facebook); and that my social life could get back on track. And all of those reasons tipped the balance towards going back to work.
I got asked questions, indeed. But not the type I expected. “You look amazing! Have you lost weight?” “Beautiful! You went on a diet!” “Fantastic new look! So thin!” I was stampeded by overexcited questions and comments about how great I looked, all because I was “thinner.”
Those were not award-winning performances from my colleagues. They actually meant it.
It was really upsetting, because I liked how I looked before. I looked like myself. I looked happy and well-fed. I was fab-fat. My stomach rolls showed that I enjoyed life and food, that I went out with friends to eat. Yes! Being fab-fat, as I like to say, meant I had a great social life. Getting thin had meant weeks away, by myself, over the loo, holding my own hair up, under the intrigued eyes of my cat Rigel – the only companion I had in those tough times. Chicken broth, the only thing that would not flush out directly – and even if it did, it was at least a painless thing. *That* level of pathetic, yes.
I associate my weight loss and becoming thin with feeling miserable.
However, to others, it apparently triggers ‘fabulous’ as a Pavlovian response.
It is like two parallel universes rushing in the same tunnel. They will crash. *eventually*
I sarcastically doled out beauty tips to anyone who asked how I lost so much weight. Water. Nothing else. For days on end. But throw it up after 30 seconds, just in case it’s got hidden calories. Clears up your skin as well – all that natural acid will kill all the derma’s germs and bacteria. And no sleep – pillows give you wrinkles. My sarcasm was basically throwing back mishmash of all the gobbledygook you read in beauty magazines. And, sadly, people swallowed it because it rang the bell of the usual lies they are told.
I really wanted to scream at people, “I might have had cancer, I might even have had some bizarre illnesses you can not even pronounce, *yes, that bad* …. yet you find me prettier …?” As I was telling them I was way worse off than I looked, I could see their little faces crumbling under the effect of reality thuggishly pounding onto their mental construction that thin is always better. Screaming at them with, “but I am so sick inside,” was not helping anyone, not the least me. It made everyone believe I was a psycho – a terrible side-effect no one really wants. And my little fab-fat heart just accepted that this is a case of cognitive dissonance. They were not ready for the truth. Yet.
People are so brain-washed by, ‘thin is good,’ that they do not think any further. It is their reality, their truth. They might not even know it, they are just Pavlov – responding with ‘beautiful’. It is not their fault. They have been raised that way. No matter what you say, they won’t see it.
So I started smiling instead, and accepted each compliment they were giving me for what it truly was – the truth, for at least half of the sentence.
“You look amazing!” “Oh, yes,” (cutting them short) “I look amazing! I always have! Thank you!”
Move along, nothing else to see or discuss.
I had to remember that people give compliments with good intentions, even if it sometimes feels more like a judgment, but positive or negative, none of what they say matters. It is what I think of myself that is important because true beauty comes from feeling at peace in our minds and hearts. That means, no matter how my size fluctuates throughout my life, the true essence of who I am will never change.
Sandra is a ginger-haired actress, comedian, and a sometimes writer, living in London with her cat Rigel. She has performed burlesque dancing and was a semi-finalist at “Funny Women” in London! Sandra was raised in French Speaking Belgium and has degrees in Communication studies & Cultural Anthropology, Geosciences, Linguistics, and a MA in English.
*This blog post is the opinion of a particular guest blogger – and does not necessarily reflect the position of Fattitude, Inc.