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When friends decide to lose weight

June 29, 2012

When friends decide to lose weight  try to lose weight it’s always a heartbreaking moment to the fat activist. Some people are laid back about other peoples’ decisions to lose weight or are comfortable to let them make their own decisions.

I’m not like that.

It kills me because I see myself and how far I’ve come. I see the potential. More so, as friends who often read my blog and posts on Facebook, Twitter, etc., I feel personally like I somehow failed in preventing this. One big reason is that I’m so ethically opposed to diet culture, which I view as a form of self-harm and disordered eating.

I can’t help but project my own experiences with a decade-long eating disorder and my almost miraculous turnaround after a single friend handed me a book and asked me to read it. I feel like I can’t help my friends the way my friend helped me.

Still, what can you do? If their Facebook posts are triggering you can unsubscribe, you can give them positive comments when they bring up their weight at lunch, you can tell them that their weight isn’t important until you’re blue in the face, but in the end you can only help so many people.

The people who want that help.

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. June 29, 2012 12:03 pm

    I can so relate to this. Whenever a friend of mine brings up the fact that they are dieting, or need to diet, or heard about this new diet, or want to try this new diet, I feel icky inside. One particular Facebook friend embarked on a diet recently and is putting up regular posts of his “progress”. He messaged me to ask what I thought of his decision to diet and I just didn’t feel like getting into a whole ‘nother diatribe about it. People who know me know what my attitude is toward dieting. If they know that and still insist on telling me about a diet they are on, then I know they really aren’t friends at the core, because our attitudes toward weight are fundamentally different. Polite, civil acquaintances maybe, but true, honest friends? I don’t see how it’s possible.

  2. Cat permalink
    June 29, 2012 12:05 pm

    I feel the same way. I have a friend on FB who lost 100 pounds in one year. While this is an accomplishment, what do I say? I can’t say anything except that she was fine whatever size she was. And now I wait with a bit of morbid curiosity to see if she gains it all back. This is a person who I have known to be heavy since I have known her and has lost and gained with the best of them. Sometimes I wonder if she had WLS. It’s like I don’t quite know how to react.

    • BBDee permalink
      July 1, 2012 12:25 pm

      and if you wish them luck at keeping it off, which is the best you can do knowing that 97% (or something like that) WON’T, you’re accused of being “jealous” and/or trying to “sabotage” them. You can’t even IGNORE them in peace.

  3. vesta44 permalink
    June 29, 2012 12:39 pm

    I have relatives who have lost and gained weight and still diet, and try to talk about their diets with me. I just tell them “You know how I feel about diets, you know I had WLS and it failed. Why do you think I’m interested in this kind of talk? It’s your body and you can do whatever you want with it, but I’m not going to be your cheerleader while you’re dieting, I’m not going to congratulate you when you lose weight, and I’m not going to commiserate with you when you regain the weight you lost. There are too many other interesting things to talk about, so let’s talk about them instead. This particular line of conversation is over.” Needless to say, a lot of them think I’m a bitch because of that, but I don’t really care. I don’t endlessly preach at them that they should quit dieting because diets don’t work for 95% of people, I don’t endlessly go on and on about HAES or how I think what they’re doing is wrong. I stated my views the first time they all talked about diets, told them it was a closed subject with me and I didn’t want to hear about their diets. But they seem to think that dieting is a perfectly suitable subject around me, so when they start in again, I change the subject and if they go back to their diet talk, I leave and let them know why I’m leaving. If they can’t respect me enough to keep that kind of talk for when I’m not around, then I just don’t have time for them. I worked too hard to give up that mindset and I’ll be damned if I let them drag me back into it.

    • Cat permalink
      June 29, 2012 12:57 pm

      Vesta, part of the problem is that Diet and Weight Loss talk are considered suitable topics of conversation EVERYWHERE! If you are a woman and not on a diet or talking about how awful your body is, you (we) are the exception. I never realized it was so prevalent until I started reading size/fat acceptance blogs.

      I also had WLS. When my mother tells me about the latest procedure out there or who she knows that just had it done, I tell her that I have altered the inside of my body and that STILL didn’t make me thin. I am done with diets! Cat

  4. June 29, 2012 2:07 pm

    “I feel personally like I somehow failed in preventing this. One big reason is that I’m so ethically opposed to diet culture, which I view as a form of self-harm and disordered eating.”

    THIS. Aaah, I so hear you on this. I take it personally (and shouldn’t) if/when friends make weight-loss comments or bash their bodies saying “Ugh, I’m so FAT. I NEED to lose weight. I’m UGLY.” It also makes me wonder what they think of ME, with my fat body.

    I really like what Vesta said here: It’s your body and you can do whatever you want with it, but I’m not going to be your cheerleader while you’re dieting, I’m not going to congratulate you when you lose weight, and I’m not going to commiserate with you when you regain the weight you lost. There are too many other interesting things to talk about, so let’s talk about them instead.” I dont’ know what to say when a friend or relative posts pictures or text about hey! Look at the weight I lost! I say nothing, but I know that silence can and usually does indicate acceptance. I should say *something* but I never know what because I don’t want to come off as preachy.

    • Cat permalink
      June 29, 2012 2:28 pm

      THIS. Aaah, I so hear you on this. I take it personally (and shouldn’t) if/when friends make weight-loss comments or bash their bodies saying “Ugh, I’m so FAT. I NEED to lose weight. I’m UGLY.” It also makes me wonder what they think of ME, with my fat body.

      Sometimes I think these people are looking for reassurance. They want you to break in and say “Oh! Don’t be silly, you look great”! And, I don’t think that they give much thought to your body at all. They are too focused on hating their own bodies. And it’s not entirely their fault. (Media, Society, Blah, Blah, Blah)

      I think we should come up with an appropriate answer or reply for these awkward social interactions. Something that shows intelligence without being preachy or terribly discouraging.

    • BBDee permalink
      July 1, 2012 12:28 pm

      and then i’ve gotten so many comments like “I hear ya…that may be OK for YOU…BUT…” and launching right back into the same old crap!

  5. June 29, 2012 3:25 pm

    I can understand you having personal feelings about their decision to diet, that it’s triggering, and you have a right to those feelings. I see my thin friends talking about how fat they are and I just can’t believe it. How can they think they are fat at 110 lbs? But I try to keep my nose out of their business. I try not to assume or judge them. I think if they ask your opinion, then tell them what you think and feel from your experience, but other than that, I think it’s best to really stay out of it.

    • BBDee permalink
      July 1, 2012 12:30 pm

      Ashley, you’re right of course, but like I mentioned before, you can’t even IGNORE them in peace. They persist in getting in your face trying to make it your business!

  6. Elizabeth permalink
    July 2, 2012 1:29 am

    Can I ask, what was the book your friend asked you to read?

  7. purple peonies permalink
    July 6, 2012 4:05 pm

    ive been wanting to leave a comment here for days but it actually makes me anxious to think about it…. weight loss has ended several friendships for me over the years, because i just couldn’t handle the implication that i was some kind of freak for not wanting to (literally) kill myself to be thin. i’ve always been a size positive person, even before i knew about HAES, i just knew if with my disordered restrictive eating, if i wasn’t getting thin, i wasn’t doing anything wrong, my body was just doing what it could to keep me alive, and why should i torture it with cruel weight loss attempts?

    i feel like a lot of the problem is that folks i talk to don’t understand basic human biology (and then don’t want to because “SCIENCE IS HARD!”) and they don’t understand basic marketing and media madness (if fat isn’t bad, why are these messages EVERYWHERE? the media & weight loss industry wouldn’t lie to us!)… and the majority of folks actually lack a solid grasp on reason and basic logic (mostly because of the messages we’re bombarded with daily)… which means it’s obviously not our fault when folks won’t listen to reason. but it still really stings.

    it seems like an awful way to live to be constantly hating your body and fighting against it… i really don’t understand why anyone willingly loathes themselves so much that they can’t listen to reason. those folks are just so fundamentally different from me that it’s probably for the best that we part ways.

    it just says so much about the world we live in.

  8. Janet permalink
    July 12, 2012 12:50 pm

    I recently spent the weekend with a life long friend who’s weight has gone up to 200, whereas when we were kids, she was never anything but skinny (seriously, like her bones sticking out, like if she wore a bikini to the beach or pool and laid on her back, the bottom of her rib cage stuck up higher than her miniscule breasts). All she did all weekend was harp on about how we both need to eat healthy and do this and do that. Now, that’s fine. I agree that everyone should eat healthy, and I do, especially now that I’m diabetic. I avoid sugar and use sugar substitutes in moderation and watch my carbs and fats. It’s all part of the new nutritution. Now, I’ve also been aware of food and how it affects us for years, partly due to my food allergies and partly because as a big girl, you know what’s bad for you and you have to decide if you want to indulge or not. Because it is a choice. So, over the years I have indulged, sometimes more than others. And in the last 10 years, I’ve been cutting foods out of my diet (such as processed foods like white flour, cheese slices, white sugar, etc). But again, she thinks she’s the expert. She also thinks she a therapist as she does hold a degree in psychology. She yammered at me about food all weekend, then analyzed me and told me what was wrong with my attitude. My whole point here is that you shouldn’t feel worse about yourself after spending time with someone who is supposed to be a friend and supporter. Now, if I were a drug addict or alcoholic, or even a foodaholic (I won’t lie, I used to eat all the wrong things for years then got smart as I got older), I would hope she would stage an intervention, but this isn’t what this weekend was. I felt I was being hijacked to a deprogramming that I obviously don’t need. I didn’t ask for her help. I don’t want her help. I only wanted her friendship, especially after knowing each other for 40 years. Instead, I have decided that I will distance myself from her because of her own insecurities, self esteem issues, dominating personality, brainwashed attutude and bullying! She has been there for me during hard times (family death and so on) but frankly, she’s too dysfunctional to stay close to. It’s time to cut that cord. I no longer want to listen to her drone on about dieting, when in her case as in many others, it hasn’t worked in the long term (she’s been through several weight loss programs and diets over the years and still can’t keep the weight off), and it just pisses me off. Eat healthy and shut the hell up!

    • Cat permalink
      July 13, 2012 11:22 am

      Janet, thank you for sharing your story. Did you tell your friend about your affiliation with FA and HAES, and let her know that you did not want to talk about such things? If you did and she continued yammering, then I am sorry that you have to distance yourself from a close friend. If you didn’t, try. Maybe you can set some ground rules and continue the close friendship.

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