Thursday, June 21, 2012

The great comment vs. compliment debate.

It's a pet peeve of mine. A friend or acquaintance notices something different about you. A hair cut. Or different hair color. And their observation yields a comment along the lines of "You cut your hair."
Yes, captain obvious, I did.
If the noted observation is followed by a compliment, say along the lines of "Your bangs really frame your face well." or "I never noticed how blue your eyes were- they are lovely.", that's frankly swell, as well as downright appropriate.
Before you roll your eyes at my nit-picking, allow me to explain.
I've worked really hard on myself this past year.

I was a chubby child, which can probably be traced back to having a mother who was more interested in scoring drugs than feeding me. My grandparents were horrified that I'd, at the tender age of 3, sit at a table cupping my forearms around my bowl or plate of food protectively. And was taken from my mother's care (or lack thereof) soon afterwards.
Which led to being a chubby pre- teen. There was a wonderful summer of being thin. I was 9, and by that Fall, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. My body had been digesting my own fat storage. Thin and allowed to wear a bikini while at the beach? Yes. Sick as hell and close to death? Double bonus.
The grandparents I was living with blamed my pre- teen hormone- induced blood sugar ups and downs on me directly. And taught me that being Diabetic, as my father (who they would not allow me to see) was, was not only an embarrassment, but a sign of weakness.
My father died from complications of DKA when I was 12. I'd started living with my mother again at that point.
I went through several teenage "Taking insulin is a pain in the ass" episodes, but have become quite good at making my health a priority, except where my weight was concerned.
My pancreas does not produce insulin. If I don't take injections, I will die. That will never really change- I'll always need a source of insulin. It's not that I hide my Diabetes from people, it's just that I don't talk about it. Ever.
My weight, however, has yo-yo ed for years. In order to lose weight, I'd eat very little, which would work for a while. Let's face it, no one will just wake up with Gisele's body one day.
My frame is top heavy, with broad shoulders and a larger bust. Slimmer hips and a flat arse allowed me to rectangle off quite easily, as did a lack of exercise.
I got tired of not being able to walk into any store and find something to buy. Of having shirts pull across my breasts, and buttons strain at my waist. I was on the upper edge of classic ladies' sizing, wearing a 12 or 14 pant and a Large or XL top. My leggy 5' 7" frame was not only overweight, but technically obese. So I decided to change it.
I lift weights on a regular basis, walk a lot, sprint, spend tons of quality time on my elliptical (while watching embarrassingly bad TV)  and eat every couple of hours. It works for me.
Do I miss quaffing gin? Yes. So I indulge a couple of times a week.
Enter a very flat and frighteningly firm arse, actual hipbones and a size 2 or 4 pant (same brands, for point of reference). I'll always be more top heavy, but am down three bra band sizes and at least one cup size. And I could store beverages in my collarbone area if lacking a water bottle. Which easily gets me into a size Small or Medium shirt. Dresses are still the devil, always way too big on the bottom, and I'd like a slightly trimmer waist area, but all in good time.
As of this morning, I am .6 lbs. from what I thought would be my final goal weight.
Last time I was at my endocrinologist's office, my chart revealed my goal weight to be one measly pound above the lowest weight he'd recorded for me. In 1997, when I was 19, and too poor for food. Working full time and carrying a full course load and closing The Black Cat every single night.
It's safe to say that if I still had my "skinny jeans" from that time in my life (Diesel black denim Wankers with 1970s style yellow contrast stitching on the back pockets and leg seams, size 29. Strange that I had enough money for fancy denim, no?), they'd be too big. And my new test for "too big" is when pants are buttoned and zipped and slip off my hips. I have a large bin of them under my bed. Overpriced Italian denim. Modern designer labels. Vintage designer labels. I doubt any can be salvaged by a tailor, but a few dozen pairs of pants remain just in case I find someone with amazing skill and an obsessive eye for detail.
At this point, I think I'd like to lose maybe another 10 lbs. And it may take a while. That's okay.
Do I have body image problems? Am I obsessed with being thin? No. I'm fit and healthy and muscular, with a 23.6 BMI. Which is lower than my endocrinologist's.
Friends have been for the most part complimentary, though some will always be the type to make observant comments and say nothing else. And some say nothing at all (which is okay).
While walking my dogs this morning, a nice neighbor who I wave at regularly but last had a conversation with maybe 10 months ago pulled over, told me that she and her husband comment to each other that I look amazing every time I walk by their house, and she thought it was well past time to tell me as much. The word "Amazing" was used eight times.
Maybe it's because I work in my basement most of the week. Or because the last person who commented that I'd lost weight was a leering, older man at a thrift store who was watching my try on a dress over my tee and shorts. "You look like someone I used to see here sometimes, but she was fat and you aren't." really isn't the panty- dropping observation/ comment you were going for, asshole. I'm sure the not fat version of me is now considered a total bitch for glaring back at him and not saying anything until he walked away, but c'est la vie.
There you have it- an insanely personal blog post from a very private person.
Next time you notice something about someone, don't just tell them. Compliment them. Because, be it weight loss, new glasses, or a new hair style, you will make their day.

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