Did you lose weight?

I have a bit of a bone to pick with Argentine society, surrounding the topic of weight loss. It has recently come to my attention that commenting on someone’s weight here is an acceptable form of flattery (as it is in many places in the world), even though it could be considered a very personal body decision. Over the past couple of months, my body has been changing, as it is going to do many times in my lifetime and after starting up with America (with up to three trainings per week) my body has also been reshaped. I’ve been receiving these kind of comments from family and friends:

“Perdiste peso! A mi me gustas mejor asi.”

“You lost weight! I like you better like this.”

“Che, vos estas mas flaca o yo me estoy poniendo mas gordo.”

“Hey, either your skinnier or I’m getting fatter.”

And the worst one given to me last Sunday, right before lunch:

“Si seguis asi, no va a quedar nada!”

“If you keep on like this, there won’t be anything left of you.”

The last one is particularly interesting because it was almost turned into a negative comment, in backward twist.

In public, people can’t comment on alopecia (hair loss), or if your teeth are straight or crooked. Only my grandmother will comment if I have a particularly bad zit that day. Instead, people feel completely comfortable talking about your weight. Of course, if you’ve gained weight they won’t be as inclined to say something. They directly equate your weight with your overall health. They don’t ask, how are you feeling? But how much you WEIGH?! How is this a factor of your health? I understand that most of these comments are meant as a compliment, with no malice intended. However, I feel it is about time the myth that the loss of weight = health must be cleared.

Also, from an athletic point of view, losing weight isn’t necessary a good thing. Yeah, I might be able to jump a bit higher and run faster, but I will also not be able to play in the post with the bigger girls since I will easily be shoved aside. There is a position for any weight, but I particularly love playing the tougher spots.

I’ve been experimenting with my response to these comments and have gone from mild to aggressive:

“Why don’t you flatter me on my intelligence, not my weight?”

“I don’t feel comfortable with you commenting on my body like that.”

My conclusion is that an aggressive approach is not the best reaction since people seem to come to the conclusion that it is some sort of personal issue of yours, surrounding weight. Instead, I’m working on the more informative approach of shinning light on the fact that weight is a tiny factor of many that leads to a healthy person. This includes emotional and mental health, which can’t be judged by the eye.

I still have yet to come up with a good response to the weight myth. Anyone have any ideas?


9 responses to “Did you lose weight?

  1. Thanks for raising this issue Cinthia! My standard response is usually, “My weight typically goes up and down.” I say it as a fact, something that doesn’t deserve a value judgment and I don’t say “thank you.” If they continue on with compliments, I usually shrug and say, “a little fatter or a little skinnier, I’m happy and healthy.”

  2. This is common in Argentina. In a way, it can be considered a compliment because they are “observing” your body. So it’s nice that someone is paying attention, no? So I just take all comments about my weight as compliments, with no justification or explanations. “Oh really?” Gracias por prestar atencion a observar la diferencia sobre mi figura.
    Or something like that.

    BTW, I have to say that I’ve noticed that lately you are looking especially fit and beautiful. No lie.

    • Hey Cherie,
      Yes compliments are nice, but I wish it wasn’t so obsessively on weight. If they commented just as often on my smile or skin then it wouldn’t bug me as much. Cultural thing, for sure.

      Thank you for the compliment!! 🙂 See you on Wednesday hopefully.

  3. Great post Cynthia…
    I have to agree with Sharon though. I think to shrug it off is the best way to deal with this. I find that getting annoyed serves only to get me labelled as “mala onda!” (yeah, me!)
    But I don’t think the issue lies solely in the hands of those commenting – There are a lot of women here that rely on these sorts of “complements” to feel good about themselves. Like so many body image issues, its going to take a massive shift in mentality before anything changes. But posts like this and a refusal to react positively to someone’s comments on your allegedly disappearing waistline is a move in the right direction…

    • Thanks for the input Ashley. I keep forgetting that a lot of men and women feel that they are given attention with this type of comment. I will admit that there was a time where I too felt good after being told I’d lost weight. It’s interesting..

  4. I also agree with Ashley. She said, “There are a lot of women here that rely on these sorts of “complements” to feel good about themselves. Like so many body image issues, its going to take a massive shift in mentality before anything changes.”

    It’s an issue I always had in Argentina. People only ever commented on my appearance — whether I’d lost weight or looked pretty. They’d call me “linda” but never anything equivalent pertaining to my intelligence or any talents I have. They wouldn’t say, “hola, escritora,” for example. There aren’t even any terms like that in popular use; I think we’d have to come up with some, like when feminists reclaimed “bitch” and “slut,” which I use with a few friends, along with “whore.” Imagine if you started calling your friends “puta” lovingly! AND IF IT SPREAD. Revolutionary.

    • Interesting idea Nat. The puta thing might be hard because it is used as a swear word commonly here, so it would be a big switch. Hope your doing well.

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