Let's Stop "Sympathizing" About One Another's Bodies

The next time a friend tells me she has gained weight, I'm going to say, "That's awesome. I hope you ate a lot of delicious things." 

"I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I think you might be a size 10."

Hold on. Let's back. The fuck. Up. 

Maybe the woman I was shopping with wasn't aware that the average American woman is a size 14 when she said this. 

Maybe she didn't realize that lamenting a size 10 is implying that the majority of women's bodies are "bad news."

Maybe she wasn't thinking about this when she nonchalantly told me another pair of size-8 pants looked too big on me, because loose pants are just a reason to look for a smaller size, but tight pants are "bad." 

Maybe she didn't understand that you can't even be a size anything because size is a property of an item of clothing, not a person, and a person can wear multiple sizes because it's not an objective measure of their bodies or themselves. 

And without a doubt, she thought she was sympathizing with me. She thought I must be distraught about the small chance that I'd gone from thin to slightly less thin. 

When we act like being less thin is a bad thing, what are we saying about people who are average size? 

And what are we saying about fat people? 

My shopping companion's behavior was part of a code: When a woman appears to gain weight, you feel bad for her. When she talks about eating "too much," you feign horror at what often sounds like a normal meal. When she complains that she looks like a baby whale in her bikini, you tell her that you look like a giant blue whale that just ate three elephants. 

But you know what? I'm so done with that.

The next time a friend tells me she has gained weight, I'm going to say, "That's awesome. I hope you ate a lot of delicious things." 

If she confesses that she ate a "sinful" amount of Ben and Jerry's Half Baked, I'm going to tell her that's the best ice cream flavor ever and I approve.

If she says she's afraid she looks pregnant in her bathing suit, I'll say, "You don't, but nobody would mind if you did."

And if I notice that the fabric looks tight on a pair of pants she's trying on, I'll say, "I think you'd look fantastic in those pants one size up." Because the problem is with the pants, not her. 

Not everyone will immediately get on board with this philosophy. Some will stare blankly as they wait for me to validate their warped views of their bodies. But I simply won't. 

And once people get that I won't play along, they'll slowly stop playing the game altogether.

Women — and everyone, for that matter — I invite you to join me in a new game. Instead of stooping down to sympathize when someone strays from societal body ideals, and instead of bringing others down with us when we're struggling with body image ourselves, let's all lift one another up by declaring that there's nothing wrong with what we've just eaten, how we look in a bathing suit, or what size pants we’re wearing. Rather than breaking “bad news” to one another, let’s treat our bodies as good news — because there’s much more about them to celebrate than there is to pity.

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