Monday, February 28, 2011

Weighty Matters

"You look good." These words have been on my mind a lot lately. No, no... don't get me wrong, that's not a self-indulgent compliment. Read on. There was a time when I longed to hear someone say I looked good or pretty. It built my self-confidence and made me feel special, not in a conceited manner, but in a genuine appreciation for a compliment.

In order to explain how those words have changed, allow me to deviate for just a moment.

I started to get sick. I don't talk about this too much here, because who wants to discuss their gastrointestinal health in a public venue? The details aren't pretty. For some reason my body seemed to be rejecting everything I ate. I had always struggled with stomach problems, but it was becoming increasingly frequent and debilitating. I had my gallbladder removed and hoped I would start feeling better soon thereafter. It only got worse from there. In a matter of months I had lost over thirty pounds. I was sick.

Throughout that time, people started telling me, "You look good, what are you doing?" I couldn't believe it. I felt terrible, and yet others were applauding my weight loss. People I didn't know that well were suddenly comfortable sharing their opinions about my body. I tried to joke about it and brush it off as much as possible, but it wasn't easy.

I know some thought I had an eating disorder. Others seemed to think it was all in my head. I was physically depleted and losing the emotional strength to cope with a health crisis and the added social dynamics.

I began a gluten and dairy free lifestyle and am still working towards recovery. I have good days and bad days. My weight fluctuates, as does my health.

These days, when I run into people who saw me at my worst, they all seem to say the same three words, "You look good." I try to receive them graciously knowing they mean to be supportive. But I guess I kind of wonder if they're really saying, "Your face isn't so gaunt anymore and you have curves again." It just makes me feel awkward and embarrassed. Sometimes I just wish they would ask how I'm doing without the assessment of my outward appearance. It's uncomfortable feeling like others are so aware of every pound lost or gained.

I know the real weighty matter is my own perception. I need to stop worrying about what others think and come to terms with my own body, no matter its current size or condition. I am grateful for my body. I am grateful for what's on the inside. I think I look good on the inside.


Whitney said...

Thank you for your honest words. You kind of feel like you are under a microscope when people make comments like that don't you? I hate feeling that way myself. You know what though? You have always been so beautiful to me! You are beautiful because you have a smile on your face every day, even when you don't feel good. You are beautiful because you are you! There is a goodness and light about you that shines from within. Your being sick could never change that. I wish I could protect you from all those prying comments. I sure do love ya!

Tessa said...

I so appreciate your perspective on this and your personal experiences! I must say what you said is close to my heart because I worked with women with eating disorders for years- and people commenting on weight and body never helps, no matter how good the intentions. It's always triggering for them, and it isn't what really matters. The main thing I learned from that is to talk to people about their lives and their "insides" if you will instead of the outsides. Anyway, so this is something I've tried to change about myself. Thanks for sharing! Also, I'm glad you are recovering, albeit slow, and I hope it gets better and better.

Lynley Jill said...

Thanks you two for your kind and insightful comments. That was a pretty honest post, but I felt it was important to share. I wish everyone could know the danger of focusing on appearances so much. The Lord looks on our hearts. This whole experience has really taught me to try and do the same.