"I need to go buy some smaller clothes. All the ones I own are hanging on me."
She stopped mid stride, mid parking lot to look at me. She didn't quite snort but almost, before she said she wanted whatever I had. I bit my lip before I said something I'd regret. I felt a surge of anger that caught me off guard. If I couldn't tell my best friend about needing new clothes who could I tell? If she couldn't hear the worry beneath my words, who then?
I hate that this is often the way it seems to be between women. Weight loss being the thing that matters. I've listened to co-workers the past several years exchange weight loss tips and diets and have seen them lose and gain the same 30, 40 or 50 pounds. Last week one of them yelled in the background as I was talking to another on the phone, "I'll have whatever she's got." and I thought, "Really?"
Did she forget that the doctors have been puzzling over what is causing my steady, unexpected weight loss? Did she forget the dreaded "C"word that has been bandied about for months now? Or is it really all about the number on the scale?
I think of an elderly woman I know who, at 83, talks about losing those last 10 pounds. I look at her frail body, the kind that looks like it would break if hugged too tight, and feel angry that this is her desire in old age. I wonder what she sees when she looks in the mirror or steps on the scale?
I have lost count of the number of women who have vocalized to me the past few months that they'd gladly have whatever it is that is going on with me if it meant they lost weight without effort like I am. They look concerned about the uncertainty of it and in the same breath tell me how great I am looking. How can it be bad when you look so great?
I've never felt twinges of guilt like I have these past few months for being concerned about weight loss. I feel like I have a dirty secret and there's an unwritten code of silence. It's made me question just how we, as women, relate to one another when it comes to body size and image. It's made me hesitant to tell someone, who has lost weight, that they look great. Who are we under all that? Surely we are more than the number on the scale.
I am closer to getting a confirmed answer about my unexplained weight loss. One, that if proved true, is far less sinister than what has lurked in the shadows all year. One that might mean the weight loss will go on and on with no ill effects, just the nuisance of having to buy ever smaller clothes. If so, it will feel like I dodged a bullet. And in the process stepped in front of one I never thought I'd face.