100 lb. Club - How we handle compliments

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08-11-2012, 09:20 PM
I read all the posts about how we handle compliments (and the ones about snide remarks, too) with great interest. It never occurred to me to see it as a bad thing when someone else noticed I was losing weight and complimented me. I was surfing around the different forums and read a post from a year or so ago where someone said they wished they would lose so slowly that no one would even notice and then the memory of them being a former fat person would just cease to exist. That intrigued me because I would have hated that! The slow pace - not the fact that no one would remember me as fat!

I was not a heavy child. I was raised without fast food and there was never junk in the house because that's just the way it was in the 50s and 60s. I gained some weight (about 35 pounds - not a lot by my later standards) in my mid 20s. I lived on my own in a different town from where I was raised and no one but me was making the choices. I took it off when I turned 30 and kept it off for several years, even with a pregnancy thrown in. Then I started gaining in my mid to late 30s and got to be over 250 pounds. I stayed there until I turned 60 last year. Does all this - not having been overweight as a child/teen/young adult - serve to change my perspective? I read posts where people say they can't see themselves as thin even though they've lost lots of weight. I don't think I ever saw myself as fat! In my mind, I was still the same as I was at 30. Yes, I'd see photos. I'd see my reflection. I KNEW I was fat. I just didn't THINK I was fat, if that makes any kind of sense.

Now when people notice, I just think I'm back to normal and thank them for noticing. Someone stopped me on the way out of church tonight. I don't even know her name. She said she had been meaning to tell me for a long time that I looked wonderful and she had noticed. How could I take that as anything but a genuine compliment? To negate that uplifting feeling by thinking that for someone to comment on the fact that I lost weight, they first must have noticed that I needed to lose weight, makes no sense to me.

I wish there was a way to make sure that everyone who is losing weight (or not gaining weight) sees it as an accomplishment. And that every compliment is earned and deserved. I know there are a few who criticize. I'm not talking about them today. Just the people who notice and say something that was meant to be kind and encouraging. We need to accept those comments for the help and support they are. When someone says they like your new haircut or new hair color, for example, it doesn't mean they thought your old hair was bad. Though not exactly the same, I think this really is very close.

Let's try to accept compliments for what they are. Let them carry us through the rough spots. And remember how difficult it might have been for someone to comment, especially like the woman at church tonight who doesn't even know me. I try to make a point of telling parents of young children who are behaving exceptionally well in adult situations (restaurants, department stores, waiting at the bank, etc.) that I think their children are very well behaved and that they must be very proud of them. Most thank me and agree that the kids are very good, The kids usually smile from ear to ear. One time, though, the father shot the compliment to pieces by saying, "But you should see what horrible brats they are the rest of the time. You'd never say that if you knew." The 3 little girls looked crushed. I had to come back with something and said, "Then all the more reason to be proud of them right now." I never want to make someone else think their compliment to me was trivial or undeserved. We DO deserve to have people notice. I just hope we can all learn to accept that.


Arctic Mama
08-11-2012, 09:36 PM
Ditto that sentiment!

I just don't comment on the threads where people are biting off the heads of the people who compliment them (and doing so behind their backs, of course) because they either hate how they looked before and don't want someone acknowledging a change or are self absorbed that they can't just be gracious with someone else's poor attempt at complimenting, or take it in the spirit it is given, even if the wording is less than graceful.

I wasn't ugly, bad, evil, slothful, or unworthy of attention when I was fat. Someone acknowledging that my figure is hugely changed doesn't affect who I am on the inside, but it does draw attention (rightfully) to the fact that a huge amount of work and dedication went into that change. Why on earth that would upset me is beyond my comprehension. I DID lose weight, it WAS hard, and the change IS drastic. The sky is also blue, and my kids are cute. All truisms people acknowledge, that don't require discomfort, awkwardness, or drama on my part to accept.


08-11-2012, 10:46 PM
I've just started losing weight this summer, since spring I have lost just enough to go down one size in jeans. However, I didn't think it was enough for anyone else to actually notice. I was pleasantly surprised and thankful when my cousin noticed during a Skype conversation and gushed about how nice my face looked. I was also a little person when I was young and know that I am fat while still remembering myself as little; almost like the fat is a sickness that I am trying to recover from. In my life I have heard enough people make exclamations about how big I had gotten, that now if someone notices me working my way back to normal, I am almost unreasonably grateful. Sometimes (a lot) I am a bit thick and don't know when I am being complimented, but I don't think I have ever mistaken a compliment for a criticism. An example is a couple weeks ago the girl at Culligen asked me if I had done something different with my hair or make-up, I looked at her in complete confusion and said no I couldn't think of anything and she said something like 'well, you look nice'. It never occurred to me that she thought I looked bad before and now I realize that it must be that my face is thinning faster than my waste, but either way I was thankful at the time that someone who watches me washing, refilling, and lugging my 5-gallon water jugs actually thought I looked pleasant while doing it :)

I don't handle criticism very well, my mother is very critical and somehow I just shut down and give up when someone points out that I am doing something right or well enough. That is an issue that I am working on along with my weight and my clutter, I hope I never get so screwed up that I cannot be gracious when someone is being kind.

Lori Bell
08-11-2012, 11:48 PM
Amen sister. Actually, it's kind of sad, but reading on 3fc for several years has made me very leerey of giving any compliment whatsoever. I never realized that so many people HATE it when someone tries to offer some sort of encouragement or kind words on their hard work.

Oh, the snarky back handed compliments can be hurtful, but the honest to goodness compliments should be graciously excepted. That's what Amy Vanderbilt's book of etiquette would tell us to do. :lol: ;)

08-12-2012, 12:01 AM
When I first started losing (this time around), I had a hard time with compliments because it seemed weird to be complimented for fixing a problem I had caused myself. But that's my own issue, and I learned to be gracious and say "thanks" to people who were just trying to be supportive.

I'm glad I haven't gotten any snarky backhanded compliments. Seriously, what is wrong with some people??

08-12-2012, 12:06 AM
Yes, I'd see photos. I'd see my reflection. I KNEW I was fat. I just didn't THINK I was fat, if that makes any kind of sense.

I certainly know this feeling. And sometimes ignoring the reflection in fear of seeing how far I had "fallen off track", but this of course hurt me in the long run.

I never want to make someone else think their compliment to me was trivial or undeserved. We DO deserve to have people notice. I just hope we can all learn to accept that.

This is a really good reminder for me! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It's very refreshing to hear. Today is always a new day to start off fresh.. I no longer beat myself up about not doing something about it earlier. :)

08-12-2012, 05:43 AM
I'm not so sure, I think its all in how you see yourself. I wasn't really fat when I was young... but during the 80s I was considered "chubby" simply because everyone else around me was so skinny. I always thought of myself as healthy and the other girls were sickly.

After my first baby I knew I gained and just thought... oh I'm just a little overweight. But after my 2nd... and then when I quit smoking.... sigh.

08-12-2012, 07:30 PM
Steph7409 - I understand what you mean about difficulty in accepting compliments for fixing a problem we caused ourselves. But that doesn't make the compliment less valid. I feel the same way sometimes. I've even joked at myself about it when someone reacts with surprise that I lost 90 pounds. I say, Yea - 90 - how did I get that big to begin with?" And laugh about it. No one is judging but ourselves.

It's nice to hear others sharing the same perspective. Thanks for the comments.


Goddess Jessica
08-13-2012, 12:47 PM
I think a lot of people who have problems with the compliment were simply raised in a manner that people did not comment on your physicality and that it is rude to do so. I don't necessarily agreed but I understand.

For me there are two types of compliments.

The, "Wow, you've lost a lot of weight! Congratulations!"

and the, "Wow, you've lost a lot of weight! You look beautiful."

It's very difficult for me to accept the second compliment without retorting, "Thank you! I've always been beautiful." Which is so NOT the way to accept a compliment but I'm working on it.

I'm surprised that after the birth of the Little Goddess, I've had a lot more trouble accepting compliments. I got down to around this weight previously and then got pregnant. Now, many people didn't know I was pregnant until I had gained quite a bit in the first trimester (morning sickness) but now that I'm back down and I get compliments, I am like, "Everyone loses weight after they have a baby! I am just back to what I was!"

I think our psychology is very interesting.

08-13-2012, 02:30 PM
This is a very interesting thread.

I do not mind compliments, even the "You look great!" variety that Jessica highlights - because, well, I do look great, and I do look a lot better than I did 120 pounds ago.

Vanity was and remains the single biggest driver for this weight-loss and body-reshaping process. I prefer the way I look now to how I looked before. It's hardly shocking to me that other people also think I look better.

Moreover, there is no reason to begrudge people sincere compliments made in the moment awkward choice of words.

Back when I was in law school, a woman I knew got her long hair cut short. I wanted to tell her that I found her haircut unusual and fetching. I blurted out, "That isn't really the style nowadays but it sure looks good on you." Open mouth insert foot, Carter! (To make my mortification complete, I had known this woman before we were in law school together, and had liked her and asked her out - and she had turned me down, very kindly.)

Now this was a very nice woman (as I already said) and she accepted both my compliment and my stammering apology in the spirit in which they were intended.

That is the least we can do for people who want to praise us for all our hard work and extremely rare accomplishments, but can't always read our minds and find the most perfectly elegant and individually sensitive choice of words with which to express that praise.

08-13-2012, 02:36 PM
The only compliment I've ever had problems with is the same one I get from my mother in law, "you're wasting away." I know it's not meant to be snarky, knowing her. It really throws me off though and I end up saying something like 'um, no I'm not, I have a lot more to go."

I wish i could say "thank you" but it just sounds weird after something like that.

08-13-2012, 10:05 PM
Vex - I get what you mean. I have a hard time with that, too. I usually try, "Hardy wasting away, but thanks for noticing."

Carter - we'd all be millionaires if we had a dollar for every thing we ever said that came out awkwardly. Which reinforces my point that we need to be gracious and just learn to accept compliments.

Goddess - we ARE all beautiful from day one. But I imagine us as even more beautiful now, if that's even possible.


08-13-2012, 10:30 PM
I agree with so many things written here. Like you Lin, I did not grow up heavy. I have gained and and lost this weight since 17 and on. I don't expect people to never have noticed. Life can be hard enough. I don't see taking these positive comments as negative, as anything but disheartening.
I totally get not liking the words used, but I don't think many people are as calculated as we think they are. If someone tells me "You look fabulous" I simply take it as "I must look fabulous". Every person has their taste, what is and is not beautiful. As much as it sucks for some people fat does not equal beautiful. I can't fit into every single persons preference for beauty, not possible.
So I simply take the compliments for what they are and just like insults I have to remember "Just because someone says it about you doesn't mean it is true." I get to pick what I carry and I get to pick what I dump as far as compliments, insults, and self talk.
My hope is just that I can convey my thoughts in a way that is uplifting to others, and if I can't, if I say something the wrong way, that they will know my true intent. :)

08-20-2012, 04:46 PM
For me there are two types of compliments.

The, "Wow, you've lost a lot of weight! Congratulations!"

and the, "Wow, you've lost a lot of weight! You look beautiful."

This is my feeling EXACTLY!!

I would graciously accept the first compliment, the second one would really piss me off. Because I have and will always be beautiful. People who think beauty has anything to do with your weight/size/number on the scale really IRK me!

08-20-2012, 05:49 PM
I am one of those posters who is embarrassed by compliments and hoped to lose weight slowly so that no one would remember me fat. I think it has to do with me being ashamed that I went from someone who was always thin and attractive to someone who was fat and unattractive all within 6 or 7 years time. I felt very embarrassed over how I had let myself go. The entire time I was obese, I always felt like thin me was wearing a fat suit that I couldn't take off. It's like, I wanted to shout at everyone, "This isn't what I really look like!" The problem is, the longer I stayed fat, the more people forgot that thin me ever existed - it's like she was erased and all that was left was fat me. Also, new people that I met during that time only ever knew fat me - to them I was a big girl - not a thin girl who was going through some health issues and trying to get back on her feet.

Just as thin me had been erased, I wanted (want) fat me to be erased from people's memories too. Whenever someone would give me a compliment on losing weight, it brought home that fat me wasn't erased - people remember her crystal clear.

That being said, I know that this is MY issue and not anyone else's who may give me a compliment. Sure, I have received a few backhanded compliments, but most have been sincere. It's my own embarrassment at having let myself go that makes me cringe at compliments. It's my own desire to forget fat me - and when people bring up my weight loss - it reminds me of her. I will say that the more weight I lose, and the more distance between thin me and fat me, the more I don't mind and even appreciate compliments.

I'm funny like that.

08-20-2012, 06:10 PM
Great post!

I am of the opinion that yes, I was obese (currently overweight) and of course people around me would have realised this. Hence, I don't mind compliments. Maybe I'm just lucky in that I haven't received any back-handed compliments as yet. They have all had good intentions.

I enjoy receiving compliments because it confirms that I have actually lost weight! The scale isn't lying to me :D

ETA: I am now more wary about complimenting others on weight however, I don't want to offend anyone myself!

08-20-2012, 10:32 PM
Guacamole - I really do know how you feel because there were many times I felt exactly the same way - except for one thing. First off, I'd describe myself as having average looks - nothing fantastic, but I don't make small children run away screaming. I don't think I ever thought of myself as unattractive. I'm not sure how to explain that, because I certainly knew I looked better by most people's standards when I was thin. But gaining weight didn't make me unattractive in my own mind. And I never felt unhealthy, either. But here's a story that should make you feel better. I think in a very short while people may still remember the heavy person you were, but the thin person will be the "real" you. My daughter lives about 600 miles from home. We see each other every few months - 4 times a year on average. So I've been heavy for almost all of her 29 years. All her memories of me are of a heavy mom. OK - I'll say it - All her memories are of a fat mom. Last year, I saw her at -30 pounds in March when I visited, -50 pounds in May at a family wedding, -75 pounds in August at another wedding, and -90 pounds when I visited in October. She didn't have a lot of time to adjust how she "sees" me in her mind, if you know what I mean. She only saw me 4 times while I lost 90 pounds. then we saw each other at Christmas, but not again until April when I went to visit. She casually said, "You know what? When I think of you and see you in my mind, I see your thin face now. That only started happening recently." I thought about that for a long time and came to the conclusion (non-scientific) that it probably does take a while for others to adjust. We all have that way we picture someone in our mind and then all of a sudden the picture changes. I really think that people will start to remember the new you and when the surprise is no longer there, they won't comment anymore.

1987 - my thought would be to never hold back a compliment - just be wary of what you say rather than being wary of actually giving the compliment. I think everyone appreciates "You look great." I'd rather do that than have them think I didn't notice. Or worse, that I noticed but didn't care enough to tell them.


08-21-2012, 07:18 PM
I have been at the same (Still over 300lbs) weight for about 2 years I lost about 40 two years ago and have mostly kept it off, people still comment on the loss. I think they see me as thinner than I am because I am active. "you look so good, you walk everywhere" i've also grown my hair out a bit, i think it makes my face look thinner maybe?...

I just smile {slightly awkwardly} and say "Thanks I haven't really lost weight recently but thankyou...".

08-21-2012, 11:22 PM
Silent - you just reminded me of a "compliment" I got last winter. I'm in a charity knitting group that meets once a month - for the past 6 years - but I am not "social" friends with most of the people in the group. It's a small group - no more that 8 on a busy night, sometimes only 3 or 4 - so we all get to talk and interact with each other when we meet. Last winter one of the members said, "I love how you got your hair cut - it makes your face look so much thinner." My hair was exactly the same as it's been for years! She had never commented the whole time I was losing, but I guess it took 90 pounds for her to see a difference in my face. When I said, "Thanks, but my face probably looks thinner because I lost 90 pounds," she seemed surprised that I'd lost any weight at all! I must have carried it well . . .


08-22-2012, 12:22 AM
My mother in law is very short, and for most of the time I have known her, she was very heavy. I don't know exactly how much she lost, but she did weight watchers a few years ago and it was at least 50 lbs. She has kept off the weight, and now when I think of her or see her, I don't ever think of the "fat" her. She looks to me how I always think of her, even though I have known her since 3rd grade, and I am now 30. The weight loss did, however make her seem just a bit taller to me. That being said, I hope people forget the "fat" me and stop complimenting me, because it is awkward to me to have people making comments. I like receiving compliments on my hair or makeup/outfit, but NOT my body really. It will probably always be awkward for me.