“You Don’t *Look* Like You Weigh That Much”

Ever heard this line before?

I used to hear it all the time when I was heavy; it always made me feel better about myself … like “yea, I’m heavy, but I can carry my weight well.”

Or maybe, thanks to my mom’s guidance during my teenage years, I just knew how to dress to accentuate the “positives” of my heavier, hour-glass frame (a small waist, relatively flat tummy) and dampen the “negative” (broad hips and thick thighs).

When I lost weight, my figure changed pretty dramatically.

Yes, I was still curvy, but there wasn’t nearly as big a difference between my hips and waist like there used to be  — and now, since gaining a little weight over the past few years, this lack of difference has made me feel particularly “thick.”

Once again, I feel self-conscious about my weight. Though I was always a former daily weigher, I just ignored the scale during the holidays this year, and knew I had to have gained. I’ve been trying to focus on just living … and didn’t want to get tied to a machine.

So naturally, I was DREADING having to get on the scale today (at my husband’s company’s annual wellness assessment) for the first time since late November.

I weighed in at home in the morning to prepare myself mentally, and yes, there was a small, manageable gain — likely a combination of my monthly guest arriving in the next few days, coupled with a week of travel and more food/wine than I needed … but the important thing to note is that I wasn’t too concerned. Which is, in and of itself, progress.

But I digress.

Anyway, it’s been a long time since I’ve made any public comments about my weight. But after the nurse pricked my finger to do the bloodwork, it was time to step on the scale, and I was blabbering and anxious.

Truth be told, I was hoping not to have to get weighed there (in clothes and all) and told her that I’d just weighed in that morning for Weight Watchers.  So she asked what the number had been. I told her, and also noted how I was pretty bummed to have let myself gain back some of the weight I’d initially lost in 2004.

As I was talking, she looked at me, eyed me up and down, and said, “Wow, you don’t look like you weigh that much. I definitely would have guessed less.”

Once again, there was that line. This time it didn’t bother me so much, but it still always makes me question myself, wondering if I see what others see, and vice versa.

She suggested I step on their scale and, with their standard 3-lb deduction for clothes, it was actually a smidge less than what my home scale said.

But what stuck with me (besides my cholesterol being so good :)) was “you don’t look like you weigh that much.” I know I’m more than a number and all that, but seeing it spelled out that way — I know I have work to do. And I feel calm about it, serene even. I know what to do, and I just need to do it.

There’s no time like the present.

How about you? Has anyone ever said something similar to you? Did you take it as a compliment or an insult?


13 thoughts on ““You Don’t *Look* Like You Weigh That Much”

  1. I get this ALL THE TIME. I find it’s a double edged sword and it completely depends on my body image. If I’m feeling good I think, see I look great and the weight doesn’t matter. I look like a fit person. If I’m feeling crappy I think: there is a lot of extra fat over the muscle that is making me be this heavy and that’s not ok. The only reason I don’t look like I weigh that much is because I work out daily and therefore have some muscle to help with how I look. So for me it goes two weighs. Frankly I avoid talking about weight at all because I don’t want to hear any comments. Honesly I get that comment so much, I expect it. the last person that kknew my weight actually just dropped their jaw becaus they guessed 25 pounds lower. Then they asked me several times if I was joking. I can’t deny where I am in the BMI scale so sometimes if I get a reaction like that, coupled with my knowledge of BMI, even though I know I have quite a lot of muscle mass, it’s hard not to feel like I should be losing some of the weight. For someone that works out, weight is a really tricky tool for measuring health.

  2. I get that all the time too… partially, I think its because I carry a good 20 lbs right up there on my chest, and I always gain weight totally evenly. I’ve gained almost 15 lbs since the summer, and no one (even the husband) says they really notice. My clothes still fit (a bit differently, but they fit) and no one ever believes I weigh what I do. I try to not let the number bug me… but it always does.

  3. Wow….this really has me thinking. I remember in high school finding out one of my (very slim) friends weighed close to what I weigh. I didn’t say she looked like she didn’t weigh that much, but I DO remember how shocked I was. I always keep her in mind when thinking about weight, because it goes to show you that XXX number on the scale looks completely different on two people!

    I do honestly think that when people say that, they DO mean it as a compliment (unless they are just mean spirited!). I would take it as a compliment, too, because it just proves how some women carry their weight so differently.

    1. very true about how weights can look so different from person to person, even for the same height. People just carry it very differently, have different frame sizes, etc.

  4. I get this all the time too! Most recently from an instructor of a class at my gym who seemed surprised when I said I had 55 more pounds to lose. She seemed surprised so I told her my weight (235 at the time) and she said “Well, you carry it very well”

    You know what I think it is? People have a messed up idea of what different weights look like. I have this friend I would consider thin. In fact, I really always envied her body quite a bit. When I found out she weighed 160, I was shocked! I thought thin women weighed 125, lol! It’s just one small part of the whole spectrum of distorted images we have of women’s bodies.

    I’ve since realized that as a tall woman, I AM thin at 165. Maybe thinner than I would want to be. I try to stay away from any kind of chart. I’m not going to fit into the little boxes they make for us, and I’m not going to try to!

  5. I can’t recall if this has ever been said to me or not. I do get that about my age though as in people shocked when I say my age and they say “I didn’t know you were that old” LOL (41 I guess is OLD now)

    I always feel like I look much bigger than I weigh yet I know a lot of this is body image distortion. I only seem to “see” my lower body which is the bigger half of me (pear shape). I know I am small on top but it is like that is negated by the lower half and am shocked when someone refers to me as small.

  6. I always took it as a compliment. Even at my heaviest people never believed me what I told them I weighed. It is still the same. People think I weigh less than I do now and I’m fine with that. I carry my weight well.

  7. Oh gosh, weight comments are just hard. And it’s harder because “normal” people do not realize the “bomb” they are dropping when they say even the slightest thing.

    When I went to a foot doctor about 3 months into my “weight restoration phase”, after having seen my driver’s license picture (from high school, when I was 20lb heavier) he commented how much weight I had lost. He assumed it was a compliment, not knowing that I was in recover from anorexia. Talk about a trigger. At least I had my mom by my side to step in and just brush the comment off, while I sat there, my mouth agape.

  8. Someone told me recently that it was hard for him to recognize me since I had gotten so thin. Seeing as how I’ve gained 15 lbs. from my lowest and am 15 lbs from my high (which is where he probably remembers me), I started freaking out about gaining more weight. If losing 15 lbs. makes me unrecognizable to people who knew me then, what would 15 more make me to people who know me now?

  9. Just scooted over from WATRD. Yes, this comment is such a double-edged sword! It’s basically been the story of my life. Like you, I feel happy when someone makes that comment, but at the same time it reminds me that my weight is something I should “feel ashamed” about. In reality, everyone weighs what they weigh. It’s just a number. I may not feel like I look like an almost 200-lb girl, but I am, and there’s nothing wrong with me! I’m working on moving down and getting healthier, but for the time being I have to accept that I really do weigh that much.

    And for the record, I don’t think nurses should comment on your weight one way or the other–positive or negative. If weight needs to be discussed, leave it to the doctor. Medical professionals need to realize the power of their words over someone in a potentially vulnerable mindset.

  10. I used to get it all the time, too! I am naturally very muscular so I probably weigh 10-15 lbs. more than I look. I have to admit, it never really bothered me, particularly because I’m a horrible guesser of what other people weigh.

  11. yes i have gotten that line before from a few friends, my body form is very confusing to me. Right now people would think i way 120 pounds and so do I. I feel like i’ve gained about 10-15 pounds in the last 4 years but i weigh myself ALL THE TIME, or every week and the numbers have stayed the same. The scale only says 98-105, they change over time depending on how much I eat. My mom thinks i’ve gained weight and others say i’m fully developed but I look more than i actually weight which i quite ironic and uncommon for people. Somehow i put weight on my body but not on the scale.

    But i’m only 5″3, i was 96 pounds in 6th and 7th grade but wore a size extra small, now i’m medium.

    and same with my age, some people think i look younger and others think i look older,
    i guess my structure is just wider, deformed and not dense (lacking muscle) idkkk, imy stomach is pretty flat, but i’m just not “small”, i’ve got arm flabs too, can’t get rid of them

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