9

I get a lot of strange compliments on my weight and I do not think I have ever been able to sort out an appropriate response.

I get compliments about my weight (and questions on how I stay so thin or lost weight after babies). I don't do anything specific for weight. I do try to be healthy and active, but that is totally about feeling good and having good energy, not about weight and frankly, I don't think it impacts my weight. I eat more when I am active, and naturally seem to eat less when I am not. I don't change size much when I am working out or not. I merely change the way my body feels, moves, posture, etc based on muscle tone. I am not more likely to get this compliment if I am working out 7 days a week or not working out at all for months and months. People focus on overall size it seems, not tone. The truth is it's genes. Everyone in my family loses baby weight easily, stays thin, etc. Lifestyle has absolutely nothing to do with my weight, never has, and maybe never will. It is just genetic luck in my case I believe and I happen to have been born a person who loves healthy foods. My mother says I was the easiest child ever to feed and literally used to beg her to make me a whole pot of Brussels sprouts. It is really how I prefer to eat for my taste. I am not some awesome machine of will power. I love vegetables more than sweets even. I don't like people thinking this is why (because people do comment if they see me eat that "this explains it"), because I have siblings that eat all fried and greasy and whatever and they are just as thin as I am and always have been. I do not think my food choice is why I am thin.

When I say "that is just how it is, I don't do anything" it is met with either total disbelief like I don't want to tell them the secret, or it makes me feel like it comes off as braggy or awkward no matter how I say it.

Now if people simply told me I looked good, then that is fine. I feel no weirdness there. It's when it worded differently I feel awkward on what to say. I can give you an example I have heard in various variations that is one I particularly disdain.

I just wanted to tell you how great you look after having kids. So many moms today just let themselves go and you look as good as you did before the babies. You took the weight right off.

I hate this because it compliments me on something I actually didn't do while insulting the "average mom" which I want no part of. I simply do not know what to say that makes sense to such a remark in passing. The person saying it also clearly always thinks they are paying me a massive compliment. I don't feel complimented at all. I feel like I was used for you to be able to spew out that you have a low opinion of the "average mother these days" and what I want to do is set you straight that your opinion on my weight is neither valuable nor warranted. I can tell you I have had this said to me in variations by anyone from teen to elderly and sometimes even other mothers, who themselves placed a high priority to get in shape, which is great for them if it's about them but not great if you want to compliment me while calling "other moms" lazy.

Honestly I really usually don't reply. If I am walking, I keep moving. If I am stuck, like in conversation, I literally just smile and ask if they can excuse me and insert something here like needing to find my kids, spouse, use the bathroom, get home, etc.

TL;DR - read the quote. I do not know how to respond to a compliment about my weight because I didn't lose weight on purpose and I don't like how complimenting me gets blurred in with insulting other people who are not as thin and I am asking if there is a good way to respond to that type of compliment which I actually think is more a comment versus compliment.

5

Body shaming is a pretty lame thing to do. Particularly when people do it to new moms...

Many of the women in my family have the opposite problem, after their first child they take on a curvier shape and it definitely isn't a matter of "letting themselves go" many worked really hard to try to retain and/or regain the shape they had before their kids. Most of them just had to accept their genetics and move on...

On the other side of the spectrum, one of my former partners couldn't gain weight no matter how hard she tried. While she was pregnant it was actually a real concern that she didn't put on as much weight as expected. She even went to be tested for thyroid issues. I was with her on one of her doctors appointments and the doctor looked at me and looked at her and said:

You need to eat what she's eating and she needs to eat what you're eating.

The thing was that she ate way worse than I ever did... She just had a naturally high metabolism. She could eat doughnuts every day and not gain an ounce.

People these days are much too hung up on beauty myths. I would invite anyone who disagrees to look back at previous generations and styles to see what was attractive 100 years ago, or 500 years ago... What is perceived as healthy or beautiful has changed quite a bit over the years.

The expectations people put on themselves and others are so often simply unreasonable and unrealistic. I would use these compliments as an opportunity to point that out to people.

You know, this is my natural shape, my natural body, I don't work for it and you shouldn't be shaming people into working towards something that isn't natural for them.

6

I think the people who compliment you mean well, and we should assume good intent.

Complimenting your weight loss doesn't necessarily imply insulting others who couldn't do so. It's only meant to compliment you for the hard work you put into it, albeit it is only their assumption you did so.

Most people struggle to either gain or lose weight. It's only natural to assume that you worked hard to lose your weight. It's quite less common to see people like you who lose or gain weight for other reasons.

I think it's best that you not make it awkward for them, and simply thank them or inform them what the reality is.

Thank you, but it wasn't my efforts that got rid of the weight. It was my (reasons in brief).

And if they understand you, they will respond with "I see" or something and maybe ask you further questions to know more about your reasons.


I lost too much weight during my initial hostel days, and some people thought I was working hard to achieve that, but in fact, I was working hard to do the opposite. The food I got from the hostel mess wasn't to my liking and I had no proper meals for many days, merely surviving with snacks and hotel foods. I would mention it to my relatives when they see me, that I didn't lose weight on purpose. And they would be like, "Oh, I didn't realize how difficult it would be for you there." (I grew up in the Middle East, and it was my first time attending a college in India, and it was difficult to fit in.)

  • 2
    I wouldn't think it was insulting others if it didn't so often include a portion about how "others let themselves go". That part is for sure meant as an insult to other people who likely aren't doing anything I am not doing. To give you some idea, I am a very small person. When pregnant on average I gained about 60% of my body weight and lost all that in under 2 months. I didn't do anything. I was just thinner every single day. I actually expected that to happen as it has been the same for all my sisters, my mother, etc. I would have been surprised if I kept the weight. – threetimes Aug 31 '17 at 7:10
  • "Most people struggle to either gain or lose weight." Really? I rarely hear people talk about weight. It may not be relevant to the question, but I'm curious about where this idea comes from. – user985366 Sep 19 '17 at 16:43
  • @user985366 I do hear people talk about weights. More often about losing weight, and sometimes about gaining it. – NVZ Sep 19 '17 at 20:32
4

Maybe you can respond with something like "Thanks for the complement, but the fact is that I didn't really do anything special, it's just the way my body is made. And i kinda hate when people compare me favorably with others like this, because maybe that's just the way their bodies are made."

2

I'd recommend a gentle smile and murmur "I lucked out; high metabolism". Then immediately move on to talk about something more interesting.

I mean, it's kind of general conversation advice here ... if you don't like the subject on the table, change the subject! ;D

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