"Ya Look Good": A Flurry Of Reactions To A Changed Body

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 7.236% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

So I’ve lost thirty pounds, and when people see me they’re kind of startled.  “Whoah!” they say.  “You look good!”
At which point I have several contradictory reactions going off like fireworks in my head.
First is, how feeble am I supposed to be?  Because, yeah, big ol’ heart operation two months ago, I was very frail, and here I am feeling half-decent again and now someone’s reminded me that I’m convalescent.  Which isn’t their fault.  I’m often the first youngish person they’ve known to have a bypass surgery, and so their expectations are low, and to see me popped up and walking about again is a pleasant surprise for them.  Still, I wonder what I looked like in their mind.  Maybe in a wheelchair, with an oxygen mask, clutching a cane in trembling hands.
Then: I don’t want to look good.  All this increased health?  The result of near-terminal illness.  I stand straighter, because my chest hurts when I slouch – a habit that makes me look taller, thinner, and also makes me feel stiff and Frankensteinish.  My weight is because a) I’m eating much better, b) exercising more, and c) have zero appetite because when they cut your fucking chest open like a crab, it takes a few months to feel hungry again.  I eat out of obligation for about four out of five meals, and will often forget if Gini doesn’t mention it.
So I’m not really looking better.  It’s just that my injuries take on societally-acceptable forms.
Then: this is bullshit.  Fucking weight-obsessed society revomiting.  Because when people say “You look good,” nine times out of ten that means “You’ve lost weight,” as nobody ever compliments someone on gaining a few pounds in strategic locations.  Maybe it’s the new hat, or the snazzy mustache, but I can’t help but think if “You look good” wasn’t such a synonym for “You looked bloated and pudgy before, but now your whale-like figure is approaching a societally-acceptable shape,” then everyone would be a lot happier.  And I hate, hate, buying into that idea that “good” is “skinnier.”
Then I go, “Oh, really?” and go into the bathroom and preen, as my new mustache looks good on my slimmer face, and my clothes fit better, and with this newer, more in-shape body, aren’t I just dapper.  How nice.
It’s nice looking good, it really is, once you force past the wave of revulsion.

8 Comments

  1. Reasie
    Mar 6, 2013

    Sometimes it’s hard to just take a compliment. I feel similarly whenever my weight is down and people compliment it. I’m like – I don’t /want/ to be thinner, I have f’n chron’s disease and every now and then my body decides it doesn’t like food anymore. But… yeah. The appropriate response is always “thank you.”

  2. Yolande
    Mar 6, 2013

    I’ not so selfish as to think this is about me, but I did just recently tell you that you looked good. And so I felt a need to clarify. 🙂
    When I said you looked good, I ment in the context of the two pictures you just posted (before and after shaving). I love beards, I truly do, but I prefer at least some grooming over a totally wild bush in someone’s face.
    Also, I don’t really care about your weight. If you get healthier from loosing weight, then that’s good for you, but it doesn’t add or detract from your looks. That’s my opinion, though. Others might feel differently.
    You look good. You looked good before. You look good now. You look good. 🙂

  3. Seamus
    Mar 6, 2013

    How about this, in spite of all you have gone through and how frail you feel, you appear healthier, and the loss of weight compliments your style and they way you carry yourself.
    Seamus

  4. Jericka
    Mar 6, 2013

    I have cancer, and am currently undergoing chemotherapy. I get an infusion of wonderful chemicals every three weeks that’s supposed to kill off the cancer, and only half kill me.
    Eating is work, and I have this off-taste hanging around in my mouth that makes everything taste odd. Keeping my weight up is hard, but, I am trying to do it, because I need the reserves to make it through this. I still have surgery and radiation to get through.
    I’m losing weight anyway. It’s just so hard to eat, sometimes.
    People keep telling me that I look great.
    I never really know what to say.

    • rengeko
      Mar 15, 2013

      I did that in 2011. I started chemo on 7/1/11, and was on it until January. I couldn’t taste anything right, and when I could find something that I liked, I threw it up. I lost 70lbs in 6 months. Then put it all back on. I looked pretty good when I was thinner, but since I started out about 100 lbs overweight, I could afford it. Chemo sucks so much-and I am still feeling the after effects, near a year and a half on. I was ‘lucky’ and had no radiation or surgery, so it’s just the chemo I suffered. They never tell you everything that will change, they make believe that you’ll be back to normal in a year. It’s a lie.

      • TheFerrett
        Mar 19, 2013

        Oof. I am so sorry you’re going through that. All my gentle hugs.

  5. Megan
    Mar 7, 2013

    I got chronically sick after high school, and lost 30 pounds pretty quickly (and grew 2 inches in height) and constantly, constantly had people telling me how good I looked. But I felt like they were complimenting my sickness. It wasn’t something I had done on purpose with any work, so there was no reason for me to accept those compliments, and in fact, they upset me. Especially because being so thin hurt. My bones stuck out in all directions, I got bruises just from sleeping on my side, and then there was dealing with being sick all the time. I hate this false equivalence between thinness and health, that losing weight makes people say “Glad to see you thinking about your health” when in fact a lack of health was why I was thin. It made me angry that my attempts to gain some weight made people tell me what I was doing was unhealthy. It breaks my heart to hear friends say “I was so sick for two weeks, but I lost 10 pounds, so it’s great!” And people wonder why eating disorders happen. We reward sickness all the time so long as the result looks good.

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