Attention: Measured By the Pound

24 Sep

In my lifetime thus far, I have worn my hair short and I have worn my hair long. It has been light, dark, curly, wavy, straight, razored, bobbed and layered. I have been a cowgirl, a granola and a professional. I have dressed trendy when I could afford it, sporty or provocatively when I felt like it, and something I like to call “Shabby-Midwestern-Chic” for much of the remainder.

Throughout all of these different looks, phases or whatever you wish to call them, I have never noticed a difference in the amount of positive attention I have received. But in all of my years, I have noticed that one thing, ONE, single, solitary thing seems to make a difference no matter what I have on or how I choose to wear my hair. I am talking—as can be inferred from the title—about my weight.

I feel it fair to mention that I have never really struggled with my weight in the way that some people do. For my entire life (save for a brief period between 2007 and 2009) I have never been classified as “overweight” on the medical charts. I have always been a healthy, normal weight. As a child, I could eat whatever I wanted and it never mattered. Then, like a lot of women, once I entered my late 20’s I needed to start watching it a little more closely as the scale crept ever upward after too many pizza binges. But still I managed to keep it in check.

Then one day, tired of flying a little too close to the sun on the wings of pepperoni — I decided to make some radical changes to my diet and exercise routine, resulting in a 30 pound weight loss and a rock-hard, 95-pound body. To some friends and family, I was a little “too skinny,” and technically underweight but none of that mattered to me because I felt great. For the first time ever, I completely loved my body.

However, curious things began to happen as the pounds melted away. Stranger than needing to shop for smaller sizes and having my jewelry resized was the way I was being treated by others… particularly members of the opposite sex. Suddenly I had gone from being someone who received compliments or glances once in awhile to receiving them wherever I went. And in a word, it was: intoxicating. So intoxicating in fact, that it’s a wonder I ever let the lbs. climb back into my truck. Looks, stares and some additional suitors all became part of my reality for… a time.

But that wasn’t even the half of it! People were KINDER. They smiled more and when I walked into a store of any kind I was asked immediately if I needed assistance. It wouldn’t be until much later that I even noticed the additional attention. But eventually it registered. And do you want to know WHEN it registered? It grew clearer and clearer, little by little, as the pounds found their way back onto my frame. I know this to be true as I experienced another (more milder) yo-yo in recent years. Pounds melted away again and I received more positive feedback from total strangers.

Don’t get me wrong, I was never treated poorly when I was heavier. I simply grew invisible. Which is interesting when you consider the sheer physics of it! I mean, I BECAME larger. I took up MORE space. But the more space I took up, the less people noticed or acknowledged my existence. Now some of you may say that it was/is a matter of confidence. The better you feel, the more you get noticed. And that might be true.

Except that I spoke to a male co-worker once who had experienced the exact same thing. I asked him this question about self-esteem being linked to weight and body image and thus generating positive or negative attention, and he believed that they had no link. “I feel like the exact same person” he said. “I have the same amount of confidence no matter my size… People just look beyond me when I’m heavier.” Fascinating. I thought. Simply fascinating. He’s a GUY and it’s happening to HIM too!

I wonder if I am guilty of the same behavior toward others that I’ve encounter out in the world? Whether we want to acknowledge this or not… I am officially calling it out! We are a society that is ruled by beauty and any or all of the perceived trappings thereof. It’s a shame, I know, for the outside to hold so much power over the inside — that truly unique part of us which is of far greater value. And yet I’m certain that it’s a part of our motivation at times. Whether that’s good or bad? Well, only you can weigh the importance of that.

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13 Responses to “Attention: Measured By the Pound”

  1. Stephanie September 24, 2013 at 10:28 AM #

    The shallowness of humanity. Ugh.

    • Woman In Thrisis November 11, 2013 at 4:33 PM #

      No doubt Stephanie! It is interesting to see… though from the “heavier” side of the fence… not nearly as fun ;) Congrats to you!! I just read about the baby. That is exciting!! Hope all is well.

  2. Ashley September 24, 2013 at 12:57 PM #

    This post definitely made me think!

    • Woman In Thrisis November 11, 2013 at 4:34 PM #

      Thank you for stopping by (over a month ago) Ashley! I am so bad lately about managing this blog! But I hope to do better… I hope you’ll stop by again sometime, World Traveler!

  3. Todd Mayfield September 24, 2013 at 1:47 PM #

    Thanks for being so transparent!! You know who checks out women more than men?

    Women.

    Yup. I think healthier people get (generally) better treatment not just b/c of attraction, but b/c we want to be them. We want their approval and affection, and others to see that we’re receiving that attention from a beautiful person.

    I don’t think it’s bizarre or abnormal. Who would you rather be seen with Ryan Gosling or Arnold Schwarzenegger? One is way more powerful, rich, accomplished and has a crazy accent. But the other is popular and attractive. People want to be around that.

    I do find it interesting you didn’t notice getting different levels of attention with different hair styles though. Men generally say longer hair is more attractive, but you say your experience/attention level was no different based on this.

    • Woman In Thrisis November 11, 2013 at 4:39 PM #

      Hi Todd! Thank you so much for stopping and leaving your comment. It is a very true observation on your part and I totally agree with you. I just find the whole thing interesting. :) Also, about the hairstyles… I would have to say that long or short, I still received more positive attention when I have been thinner and more fit. BUT… that said… usually men that I would date would tell me that they preferred the longer hair. Either that they wanted to see me with it or if I had it long, they liked it that way. So you’re right on that account too. Once in awhile I would meet a male who when I had my short hair and they would say they particularly liked me for my short hair. But I can count those men on one hand ;) Thanks again for commenting!

  4. cravesadventure September 24, 2013 at 4:23 PM #

    Great Post – Great Topic too! I have been on the lighter as well as the heavier side in the past 10 years. I can say perfect strangers interact with the lighter version of me. My family and friends on the other hand notice the heavier side of me and with some not so good constructive feedback on what to do about it. Happy Week:)

    • Woman In Thrisis November 11, 2013 at 4:41 PM #

      Thanks Renee!! I am so sorry I just got around to responding. I have no excuse than pure, unadulterated neglect. I hope you’re well and thanks again for sharing your own experience with size. :)

  5. Deb Shields September 24, 2013 at 4:45 PM #

    It is ABSOLUTELY true. I have been 93 pounds as an adult and I have been 147. I can attest to this. It is absolutely just as you described it. We judge people by all the wrong things. Rich and beautiful and young ALL get the attention. We either want to be that way or we want to be associated with these people. It is sad. “Man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart.”

  6. JT September 25, 2013 at 2:52 PM #

    Hello there Joanna, I thought I would weigh in (groan) on the topic. I have lost nearly 100 pounds but I will say perhaps as a male my story is different. While losing the weight many people noticed and wanted to hear about the journey towards the end of the journey the comment slacked off and eventually stopped. Now rather than receiving additional attention, I actually receive less. It is a double edge sword though because at least with less attention I also receive less negative attention :-). Perhaps if I were good looking this would be be a different story.

    Anyway, all that to say, I am happy with who I am, and my self worth needs to be based on how God sees me and not how other people see me…. that is sometimes harder to do.

    • Woman In Thrisis November 11, 2013 at 4:52 PM #

      Hi JT! Thanks for responding with a male point of view! I’m sorry I’m just now getting back to you! It is interesting how everyone’s journey can be different and yet the same in some instances. I too, notice more comments “on the way down” if you will… after about 10 to 20 pounds have been lost. But eventually people get used to it as “the new you” and they stop. I hope you’re doing well! And congrats on the weight loss!!

  7. Booksphotographsandartwork September 26, 2013 at 11:25 PM #

    Wow I have been the exact same sizes as Deb. Isn’t that your mom? I was underweight most of life then I had to start taking meds for Fibromyalgia and in time flat I was slightly what rhymes with that. Ugh. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if it was evenly distributed but it’s all in the middle! And yes I think maybe women are worse at the condemnation of others. It’s a terrible thing and now I understand it much better.

    • Woman In Thrisis November 11, 2013 at 4:56 PM #

      Hi Linda! Yes, “Deb” is my mom :) I know it gets harder as we get older and I’m not looking forward to that. But yes, we are hard on ourselves and one another too for that matter! I hope you are doing well. I feel so bad that I haven’t been back on here in so long! I hope to be better this winter. My husband and I are hitting the gym and that should be an adventure! one that I hope yields some physical results, but also gives me some fodder for this forum! HA :D

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