A Christmas Wish (A letter to my family and friends)

Dear Loved Ones,

I have only one Christmas gift on my wish list this year. To spend the day without weight comments. Is it possible to go back to the way celebrations used to be? A day with food, fun, love – and without healthism and sizism.

 

Can we please do our best to greet each other without weight based comments? Without appearance compliments, without blunt observations on how my size has changed? Can we filter the thought of “boy has she gained weight” and leave it unsaid?

It may have been 365 days since we last saw each other. You may be noticing that yes, my body shape IS different. I’m well aware of this, I’ve been living in my body every day. And it makes turning up to gatherings difficult.

Will they judge me?

Will they speak in hushed tones when I’m not in the room?

Will I be drowned in advice on how to drop the weight?

Will you go on to tell me how you managed to lose weight?

I will be thinking up how I can escape, how I can make myself more difficult to approach, how I can just be left alone.

I will feel pressured to fill up on the salad whilst I avoid all of the trimmings. I will restrain my dessert options to avoid adding any fuel to your thoughts of how I must have gained weight from being so indulgent and greedy. I will eat in silence, attempting to deflect your unspoken words.

I will feel angry, and insignificant, as you comment on another guest’s weight loss efforts, praising them for looking so marvellous. I will wish that you could hear what is behind your words, what is being implied by your so called congratulatory remarks.

They look so much better now than they did when they were heavier.

Their body is finally looking attractive.

They are now more acceptable to me.

 

If THEY could do it, what’s wrong with YOU?

YOU could look that good as well, and when you do – I’ll praise you too.

I will sit patiently waiting to hear their response:

I followed X diet religiously and cut out all of these foods

I worked really hard and was at the gym most days

I HAD AN ILLNESS, HAD BEEN REALLY UNWELL AND COULDN’T EAT

I DEVELOPED AN EATING DISORDER AND HAVE BEEN REALLY STRUGGLING

I will sit and feel overwhelmed, confused, with all of the mixed messages filling the air.

You look so great now, but don’t lose any more weight

Here, have another slice of pie, you can afford to

Are you REALLY sure you want that second serving?!

Is this what celebrations and gatherings have now become – a time to be more worried about the calories and nutrients than to be revelling in love and joy? How have they lost their focus, from a time when the food was to be celebrated? It was exciting to be surrounded by special dishes. Dishes that have been passed down over centuries, meals that have significance to them, slowly getting lost and replaced by healthier options. Low carb roast vegetables, paleo and raw desserts. Rewriting the history books - one diet fad at a time.

You may tell me not to be so silly, to stop being so sensitive. But I can’t. This is the world I live in every day. A secret, shameful world. A world that I used to be able to escape from on a few special days every year, where I could feel safe and protected by the ones I love. Where I could eat the food that was available without fear of reprimand.

So instead – please try this for me. Greet me with “it’s so good to see you.” If you notice my body shape is different – chances are I know too and don’t need you pointing it out. When we all sit down to eat – filter out the weight and calorie comments.

Let’s have fun, play games, tell jokes and stories. Do we REALLY need to be discussing diets and bodies?