So, I need to lose 10 pounds. But wait!--you cry. Isn't Miss Conduct all about accepting our bodies as they are, reducing fat prejudice, and deconstructing the diet industry?
Well, yeah. And if my current weight were my normal weight, I'd live it and love it. But it's not; it's the weight I get to when I don't go to the gym, when I stop eating a big salad every day, when I eat more bread and pasta than my wonky blood sugar can really handle, when I get too much into the habit of having a glass of wine or two every night to unwind. So when I say "I need to lose 10 pounds," it's really just shorthand for "I need to do the things that will, if I do them, make me happier and more energetic and oh, by the way, lead to me losing 10 pounds." Which is why I don't tend to freak out and get all preachy when other people claim they need to lose X pounds; maybe they too just mean that they need to get back to healthier habits. The weight isn't the point, it's just the most convenient metric.
(Also, I congratulate people who tell me they have lost weight. Yes, I have an issue with the idea of weight loss for its own sake. But who am I to withhold congratulations from someone who's done something meaningful to them? I also think it's a really bad idea to go to graduate school right after college, but I always congratulated my students who told me they got into their program of choice. I'm an encouraging adviser and friend, not a disapproving rabbit.)
Anyway, my point here is that until those pounds melt off, I can't fit into some of my regular clothes. I'm sure my female readers will know what I'm talking about here: you've got your "aspirational" clothes, your regular clothes, and your fat clothes.
Your fat clothes should be pretty. That's all I'm saying. I mostly wear skirts, and I've got a couple of "fat skirts" that are just gorgeous. I can't feel unhappy when I'm wearing them. I can't feel bad about myself. One is a full pleated green-and-white print with a deep yoke, very retro and cool; one is tan and crocheted with an elastic waist and an internal drawstring that can draw pretty far out; and one or two more excellent items that make me feel pretty and fashionable and me.
Ladies, get yourselves some pretty fat skirts, or fat pants. We all have weight fluctuations, due to our monthly cycles, or work or family busy-ness that makes it hard to exercise and easy to rely on takeout, or stress that drives us to the comforting arms of potato chips or chocolate, or travel adventures that make calorie-counting absurdly inappropriate. Don't punish those times when you're over your set point with hideous clothes that you think will "motivate" you to starve on broccoli and fake diet drinks until you're back to where you want to be. It won't work. Self-denigration is a stunningly inefficient route to motivation.
Knowing you need to make some changes and loving yourself as you are isn't a contradiction. Let your big fat beautiful fat skirts reflect that.
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Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.