Well meaning friends and co-workers have remarked on my weight loss. "You're getting so skinny!" they'll exclaim.
While I appreciate the encouragement and boost to my self-esteem, it is simply a fact that I am not getting skinny. I'm simply less fat.
I still have to shop at a plus-size women's boutique. I'm still two sizes into that boutique. Perhaps in another four months, I'll have to find a new boutique that caters to a different body type.
Even then, however, I will not be skinny. I will still be less fat and approaching something closer to merely overweight, rather than obese. I will be average.
It is also a fact that who I am has not changed at all in the last 60 pounds. All of the me that make me, well, me, is still here. Rattling around in that huge head and slightly less huge body of mine.
I will say, I suppose, that I am more prepared this time around. When I lost weight in grad school, I had never been so thin before, and it was traumatic.
I didn't know or understand my body. That was hugely disconcerting. The image in my head didn't match the image in the mirror and I had no idea who the person looking back at me was.
I was walking down the street one day and passed a newly constructed building on campus. The entire front wall of the building was glass. I happened to glance at the building and saw the reflection of a stunning woman walking close to me. I turned to see who she was, and only then realized that I had caught a glimpse of my own, much thinner, reflection. I ran into a ladies' room, locked myself in the first stall, sat on the toilet and cried.
I would go shopping and pick up clothing that was supposed to fit me (if a bit tightly) 4x, and find that hung off of me, and I would have to back for the 3x; nope, the 2x; nope, the 1x; nope, the XL.
I would sit on the floor of the dressing room in a panic, sobbing, because I did not know this body; and it was my body.
Where did my body go?
How did my body now engage the world?
What did it mean that my body was taking up so much less space? And yet had become so much more visible to others?
How did my body fill a space differently?
How did my body fit the world differently?
Why did I suddenly garner so much more attention?
Men smiled at me. Asked me for the time. When the next bus was expected. The quickest way to the train. All of this was weird.
Frightening were the men who would remark about their desire to engage physically with me.
I cried. A lot.
I haven't had that experience this time around.
I suppose in part because the change feels and looks much less dramatic to me, and because I am not yet thin enough to attract the gaze of men. I do not see any actual changes to my body. Before, when I lost weight, I lost it everywhere, but not everywhere all at once. When I regained it, I regained it disproportionately. The entire shape of my body had changed.
As I lose weight now, I seem to be losing it proportionately. My basic body shape has remained the same. I may be thinner, but the basic outline has not been altered. This makes it difficult for me to see the changes at all.
I know that my panties have fallen off, my pants are sagging, my shirts are baggy, and my breasts no longer fill out the cups of my bra as the band sits just above my waist. Therefore, I know I need to buy panties, pants, shirts, dresses, and bras that are all a size smaller. So, I remember to grab the next size down.
I look at my body in the mirror and I see great folds of fat that just kind of hang out. They've been hanging out for awhile. They'll continue to hang out for awhile longer. I do notice that my belly button is lower, that I have slightly more wrinkles in place of the fat. But it's still there.
Sometimes, I sigh and wonder why I was so terrified of my thinner body all those years ago rather than appreciative of it.
Mostly, I just look at my saggy fat and think, just X number of pounds to go and I can start running again! Because that was the biggest benefit to being a much thinner fat girl: I could run.
None of that is what got me writing today, however.
Today, it is simply this: I appreciate the compliments and attention. It means a lot to me that people have noticed the change.
Please remain cognizant, however, that my value is not inversely proportionate to my weight.
And remember to compliment my character occasionally as well. Because that will never change.