Whenever I see family or family friends, aunts and uncles, one thing is certain, they will comment on my weight. Or my skin. It’s always either a pat on the back, “You’ve lost weight!”, paired with nodding in approval and looking to my mother for confirmation (which she refuses to give, reassuring them that I’ve actually gained weight), or a friendly warning, “You need to lose weight. If you lose weight, you’ll look pretty.” Sometimes, I’m surprised with a “Your skin looks lighter”. Because I’ve grown accustomed to hearing these remarks, over and over again, I no longer get upset. I get angry.
I assume it’s the only kind of compliment they know how to give. To a girl, that is. Well, to an overweight girl, what else is there to talk about? It’s sort of like telling young boys that they’ve grown taller or encouraging them to eat more so that they will grow taller. Tell a girl how fat she’s getting and she’ll be grateful for the warning. Tell a girl she’s successfully shed some rather uncomely pounds and she’ll positively glow and think, “That’s all I’ve wanted to hear my entire life! I can finally live happily ever after! (Once I’ve reached my goal weight and goal size and everyone else approves, that is)”.
When they come across someone like me, it’s cute to be fat when I’m little but a disaster when I’m older. I try to imagine that they mean well. But why not compliment a girl on how tall she’s getting? And not just because that’s the only thing you feel is appropriate since you don’t think she’s pretty even though she doesn’t need to lose weight. While we’re at it, let’s leave the concern for whether boy can or cannot grow a beard or how much they can or cannot dead-lift at the door. I see you, too, male beauty standards.
Better yet, let’s compliment girls and boys on their personality and their achievements. Let’s celebrate spelling bees and poetry competitions and hockey trophies. Winning or losing the genetic lottery should be irrelevant, at all times, when complimenting children and adults alike. Because, out of the many things in this world that we cannot always control, you have chosen to compliment or insult the one thing that we are led to believe we can control, the thing we must control. And you cannot begin to imagine the consequences that may follow.