“Having Your Fat-Free Cake and Eating It Too” [Advice]
This year, I have worked really hard to keep myself in shape. I’ve started running every day, even completing a half marathon, and overall have lost 40 pounds. It’s something I am really proud of. However, my best friend never congratulates or encourages me. She is somewhat overweight and has major body issues, so maybe she’s jealous or feeling insecure about herself. This is understandable, but I would really like my best friend to acknowledge something I’m proud of. We’ve always supported each other in everything, and I don’t want to have to keep feeling uncomfortable bringing it up around her. How can I approach the subject with her and let her know that she is hurting my feelings?
I’m having a really hard time thinking of ways to help you “confront” this friend about her being a “bad friend.” Because you know what? You’ve already won. You won the goddam jackpot. You’ve won the fucking trophy of being-accepted-into society. Congratulations, you will never be the object of jokes by hack comedians, tabloid covers, or general things that promote shame and self-hate. You get to identify with everyone who is on tv, ever. If your friend is “overweight” (please note my excessive use of apostrophes are intended in the language we use around bodies) she is probably dealing with some fucked up body issues. And I’m sorry, I think you’ll just have to let this one go. I’ll bet you are receiving praise left and right for your weight loss, probably more praise for anything you’ve ever done, not to mention, being considered “normal” looking in society, much less attractive. And on top of all that, you want a friend who is dealing with her own issues to bring you more validation? Sorry, I am having a hard time trying to think of ways your friend needs to respect YOUR feelings.
I am sure you have “worked hard” to lose the weight and get in shape. [I’m not even going to open the can of worms that “being healthy” automatically is associated with “losing weight”] If by working hard, you mean having discipline and willpower, sure. Congratulations. But the way I’ve seen people who have lost weight praised over, say, someone who has made an intellectual or creative achievement is pretty much bullshit. You say you are proud of your new body. Again, I have no problem with that. But takes the other praise you are getting from others on a daily basis and be satisfied with that, because your friend is going through some shit that is way more fucked up than you having your feelings hurt by her.
I think everyone has a fucked up relationship with food if you are affluent enough to consider it a luxury. [Look, I know people are starving, I get it. But I’m coming from my world in which everyone I know won’t shut up about what they are eating or taking pictures of it]. And I mean everyone, no matter what your size and health. You could have your “classic” food issues, anything from a full-blow anorexia/bulimia, compulsive overeating, to the more subtle ones that are deemed “acceptable”. In my privileged, West Coast world, there are so many “foodies” that in my opinion also have a fucked up relationship with food. They are all obsessed with finding the perfect arrangement of foods, if it is local, organic, who makes it, where they get it, and of course who knows you are eating it, especially with social media where people feel the need to share their intake with everyone, and pretty soon we will be taking pictures of the “after” effects of food if you know what I mean. This is really messed up. Food is supposed to be nourishment, not an object of obsession. Also? People’s obsession with food is so intensely boring. Period. This includes a discussion of what dishes you made for your meals, where you ate out. Okay great, I am glad you enjoyed it, but in reality, cooking or enjoying food does not take real intellect – it just takes time and money. I’m not putting down anyone that enjoys cooking and food, but seriously, I hope you have something else going for you (and if not take my advice here).
If you want to literally kill yourself from boredom, put yourself in a room with a group of people who are doing Weight Watchers. Discussions about how many points are in something and competition about how little points their lunches are will make you want to off yourself with celery stick. There’s a huge delusion of how they “tricked” themselves into thinking that the nachos they made out of lettuce leaves, vinegar, fat free cheese and canned corn is just “as good” as the real thing. While I agree that the idea of eating healthier and exercising more as a weight loss concept is better than, say, a miracle pill or fucked up selective eating, Weight Watchers also teaches a bullshit rhetoric: when you eat an indulgent food or too much, you were “bad” that day, and if you stuck to your eighteen points of tasteless food you are “good”. Fuck. That. When my life feels like it’s falling apart and I have no time to create a gourmet meal for myself and all I want is a Wendy’s Frostee, for god’s sakes, I am not a “bad” person. It’s a personal choice.
Which brings me back to your question and your friend: Food and food issues are a personal thing, so every needs to deal with it on their own. Even when you think you have a piece of advice to give, honestly, just shut your fucking mouth unless someone asks for help. When she’s looking at losing the amount of pounds equivalent to a recent decade and you are going on about how you are plateauing at your last three pounds, it is anything but helpful. And talking about your regimen of Greek yogurt, and, I don’t know, fucking coconut water, is not interesting or helpful.
I am sure you and this friend have other things in common that can maintain your friendship. And there are plenty of other people that will want to talk about your food and fitness, but you’ll just have to find that elsewhere.