Over the past year I have been documenting my weight loss journey over on my personal Instagram account @claranotclara. I started purely so I could keep a record of how well I’d progressed and how I’m changing as a person. Weight loss has not only changed my physical appearance but my whole outlook on life. I have found an inner confidence, which I never really knew existed. I also wanted to show people that it CAN be done and hopefully inspire others to take that leap and change their lives for the better.
As with all social media platforms, it then opens up a world of comments. I have received so many compliments and words of encouragement which spurs me on and often stops me searching through the cupboards on those challenging days. The support has been wonderfully up-lifting.
However, I have come to learn there are two types of “compliments”.
There are the ones who say
“Wow, keep going!”
“You’re doing a great job!”
“Don’t give up, keep up the good work.”
These are the ones I love to see and can turn a bad day into a flipping awesome day. I’ve never been one to fully accept a compliment. If you ask my wife, she’ll tell you that it takes a hell of a lot to actually make me take the compliment and embrace it and although my adoring wife has always complimented me, I think I struggle because I’m just not used to receiving them.
You may have ready my last post ‘Always the Chubby Girl’ in which I explain that I’ve always had weight issues and I’ve always been the person whom people just expect to be “the fat one” and the only compliments I ever really received were,
“Oh, don’t you have a nice smile”
“You have a lovely BUBBLY personality”
Just FYI, calling a person ‘Bubbly’ is not a compliment, just don’t use it, and avoid it at all costs!
Then there are the “compliments”, which are meant with the very best intentions but are fully loaded with an added “I’ll take you back down a peg or two” for good measure.
These can be “compliments” like –
“You’ve done great but don’t go too far!”
“Well done but surely you don’t need to lose any more weight”
“That’s amazing but aren’t you losing weight too fast?!”
These comments I can handle and I usually end up being dragged into conversations regarding eating disorders and how easy it can be to get too obsessed about losing weight. I know this is purely because they care and they don’t want to see things spiral out of control and it is a very important subject matter. So I take these with love and I talk it out.
Then there is the stinker of a “compliment”, and this one I do not take very kindly –
“You’re actually quite pretty NOW”
Again, I can see the thought process and I’m sure they aren’t saying it to cause any offence but I find it incredibly hurtful and damn right shallow!
As I’ve already mentioned, I’ve always struggled with my weight and this in turn has always made me feel unattractive. I have never looked in a mirror and thought, you know what?! You’re actually quite a looker.
So these comments made with the best intentions, are actually confirming to me that, yes, I was right, I was highly unattractive when I was overweight, but apparently I’m not now I’ve lost a few stone. It also makes me wonder why we look at “thin” or “slim” people (or whatever adjective you wish to use) and think “attractive” because I know a lot of incredibly curvy men and women who, in my eyes, are highly attractive and I would be lucky if I was half as beautiful as them.
A person’s weight should not determine how beautiful or how attractive they are. It’s not always the conventional or conditioned idea of beauty that makes a person attractive. I know a lot of “stunners” who are incredibly self-centred and damn right rude, who think they stand taller because they have good looks. To me these people are highly unattractive and I have no time for them because they just aren’t nice people.
You’ll be surprised by just how many people have made this comment to me over the past year and each time I just do not have the words to respond and usually end up saying “Oh don’t be silly” or with spontaneous nervous laughter, which quite frankly can be highly embarrassing for everyone within ear shot. Not too long ago I was sitting with my GP and she turned to me, looked me up and down and said “Yes, you’re actually pretty now” whilst nodding her head up and down. I just sat there absolutely gobsmacked!
Kirsty has been great at trying to make light of those moments by telling me she has always found me beautiful, which I love her for but in truth, I know for a fact she is hurt by the comments as well. It’s one of those really complex situations that you find yourself in when really you should be quite flattered and should be grateful they paid you any compliment at all but you’re actually hurting quite badly on the inside.
It’s really made me think about the comments I make to other people, especially on social media where it’s easy to write something in a rush and not take a moment to think whether it’s appropriate or not. I won’t lie, I have seen a dramatic change in the way I look now, I post selfies and photos of me in my ‘Active Wear’ and I love the new shape of my face but I don’t post my pictures for anyone else but myself or because I think I’m now more attractive. I’m still the same person as before, just healthier, happier and a lot more confident in all aspects of my life. My weight does not define me as a person.