Monday, November 5, 2012

Sick Chic

This is how I lost a lot of weight in a few weeks without trying:

Reactions to my new look remind me of a particularly awkward moment I was witness to in my friend's apartment in Brooklyn: a goddess-like female was visiting from Haiti, where she had been on a midwifing mission, determined to save the world, one proper birth at a time. Let's call her Hathor, after the Egyptian goddess of beauty and fertility. Hathor had had a rough time of late.

About a year and a half prior, she had a tough decision to make. She was in South Africa, the flagship country of her pilgrimage, and she got knocked up by a local man she thought she was madly in love with. As head midwife to the birthing program, she decided to set an example -- she kept the baby. The daddy then, predictably somehow only to Hathor's mother, turned out to be a dead beat. Single motherhood, in addition to being a power-housing saint, was really taking its toll and so she came home for a breather between godforsaken countries.

Hathor was once shining, bubbly, blonde, and as voluptuous as the clay sculptures of fertility totems with big hips and mesmerizing, pendulous breasts. Looking at her after, she had gotten skinny. The light had dimmed in her eyes, replaced by a dull luster and dark circles. Even her flaxen hair looked retired in its exhaustion. Every time you glanced at her, you somehow caught her in a moment of exhale.

That night at the apartment, our acquaintance joined us for dinner, arriving fashionably tardy. Upon seeing Hathor, the only aspect he noticed, unfortunately, was the weight loss.

A partial hug and a kiss on either cheek, the superficial city embrace.
"Wow, you look great!"
A brief silence in the room.
"... I contracted hepatitis." 
Aaaaaaaaaaaaand I'm calling it, time of death of a dinner party: 1 minute 32 seconds into the arrival of the relatively unobservant, situationally unfortunate guest. No other way to say it: that's awkward.

So! Looking to lose some? You should probably diet and exercise.

I absolutely do not recommend going to South Africa and drinking the water or somehow inducing life-threatening mental disorders to then medicate. You will be sick, and you will not give a damn what you look like. Compliments will seem hallow, and you will not know what to say to them because you will not feel grateful. Perhaps eventually, the compliments will stop coming from people you know. Worried glances will follow. Only strangers will still look at you and smile.


  1. In defense of my kind, he was trying to be nice. How could he know the truth?

    He did forget the golden rule, though: never comment on a woman's weight.

    It's always a gamble.

    1. Look, it could have been anyone who was so blind to her obscenely weak veneer of health. I didn't tag this post #chauvinism nor did I make efforts to point out the perpetrator's opposite sex. He happened to be male, but I didn't make a big stink about it in this post, so you don't have to defend "your kind"...
      ...unless your kind is the incredibly unobservant, foot-in-mouth kind. Is that what you were referring to?

      My following post does directly discuss male-female body image comment conflict -- perhaps this is where the defensiveness is coming from. I did pull the #chauvinism tag on that one. What can I say? It was personal.

      He was trying to be nice. But the whole comment was actually: "You look great, did you lose weight?"
      It is rude to comment on a woman's weight, no matter who you are. Even if "skinny." In our culture, "skinny" = good, so comments such as that give woman mental cookie and perpetuate disordered thinking. To women of other cultures, it may actually be insulting, so watch it. As in, shut yo damn mouth.

      It's along the same lines of asking a woman if she is pregnant. Just, no. Never. Ever.

    2. "In our culture, "skinny" = good, so comments such as that give woman mental cookie and perpetuate disordered thinking."

      This is the crux, isn't it. I think the situation is the equivalent of a person who genuinely believes that being gay is bad not because it is bad inherently, but because of the pain it might bring in society. It's not progressive at all, nor is it ultimately right, but it is done with good intentions using a flawed foundation. Granted, some of the worst things ever were done in the same fashion, but the fact remains that while this guy was insensitive and ignorant, he was trying to be kind. I know I'm playing devil's advocate here, but perspective is my thing if I can help it.

      Short point: You are right, in every way, and I feel sorry for him. I've been in his spot and felt that pain.