"You look like you've lost a lot of weight" my boss said, eyeing me up. I am dressed today in a cerise pink jumper dress and a pair of black leggings, and I am sweating slightly because underneath the jumper I am still wearing the vest that I wore on the ride in to work this morning. I wore the same vest in bed last night. I've been doing that a lot this winter. Taking things off only to put them back on again. I like the residual heat and the comforting smell of sleep that clings to the cotton.
"I haven't lost any" I tell her. I am not uncomfortable with our conversation, just practiced and a little resigned. She is interested in diet and exercise and discipline and control. I am not. We have had this conversation before. I have this conversation with a lot of people. This one and the baby one. Most of the time it's fine. I am open and frank and working on dropping the self-deprecation, which is as tired and unflattering as this bobbled cerise pink jumper. I haven't lost weight, is the truth of it. Not recently, anyway. I'm a little fitter than I was. "I've been cycling" I tell people, and then I bore the tits off them with tales of my triumphs over adversity on my bicycles. I have two now. Andrew thinks one of them is his.
My boss' comment on my weight is intended as a compliment, because she knows that I am self-conscious and that I would like there to be less of me. I have never told her that I hate being overweight, that I have always felt fat, that it has inhibited me socially, sartorially and sexually all my adult life. She can see it in how I stand, arms folded, or sit with a cushion clutched to my soft belly. It's stitched into the empire lines of the dresses I wear. Even if she couldn't see it there, she could presume. Because being fat is something to be ashamed of, isn't it? I don't know. I haven't read Fat is a Feminist Issue. I don't really read non-fiction. I would like to read a novel where the protagonist doesn't lose weight but feels better anyway. Some day I will write one.
I try to say "thank you" when someone tells me that my hair is nice or that my dress is lovely. I have a lot of hair and a few lovely dresses and anyone who compliments me on them does not really need to be told when I last had a haircut or where and for how much I bought my dresses. I hold compliments close and commit them to memory, turning them over and tickling their bellies when my own feels exposed and I need to feel soft fur under my fingers. And I try not to say "thank you" when someone tells me that I've lost weight.